World Of Warcraft STILL Has 10 Million Subscribers!

By John Walker on November 8th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

He damn well should look pleased.

It may not seem like an immediately fascinating news story to say that an MMOs subscriber numbers have stayed the same, as mentioned in Nathan’s post earlier, but I think there’s an interesting point to be made when noting that World Of Warcraft is back over 10m. While the game has previously peaked at over 12m paying subscribers, a lot of fuss and soothsaying took place over the past year, declaring the MMO’s demise as inevitable. Subs numbers dropped to 9.1m, and much of the media declared, or at least speculated, that this was it. Rather than noticing that it was just a long time since there’d been a new expansion, so as you’d expect some players would have felt they’d seen all the current content so looked elsewhere for their gaming crack. In fact, the media has been gleefully predicting the doom of WoW for years. So why isn’t anyone reporting the real story here? Why isn’t anyone spotting that this is a phenomenon?

Yes, I’m absolutely about to be smug about this, but I think it’s a relevant point. Every time the reported subscriber numbers dip, it’s a news story. And not just in the gaming press – the mainstream jumps on it too. Search the BBC’s news site for World Of Warcraft and you’ll find five stories about the game’s subs numbers in the last year. In one of those stories you’ll find me pointing out that ten million subscribers is bloody loads for a seven year old game (as it was at the time). They didn’t include the line where I pointed out when Pandaria comes out, they’ll go back up again. Which they did. Smugface.

The real story here, that no one is reporting, is this:

World Of Warcraft Still Has Ten Million Subscribers Despite Being Eight Years Old!

Not just players. Subscribers. Free-to-play MMOs can boast far higher numbers (and indeed a number of Eastern subbed MMOs can boast even higher), but we’re talking about 10 million people who are still paying £9 a month. That’s (…) £90 million a month entering Blizzard’s bank. NINETY MILLION POUNDS. A MONTH. £1,080,000,000 a year. Did you read that? ONE BILLION POUNDS A YEAR. Let’s make it dollars for maximum effect. ONE POINT SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR! And that’s not even including the £30 a copy of Pandaria costs. (Three million sold on the first day, some at far higher prices for deluxe versions, making at least another £90m in a day.)

So yes, it dipped to a measly £82m a month in August. Ring the bells of doom! Except, stop ringing, because it’s back up again now.

And here’s an exclusive news story for the entire gaming and worldwide media: In six months time WoW’s subscriber numbers will have dropped again! You heard it here first. After a year or so they’ll likely nudge 8m. And then probably in mid 2014 Blizzard will release another expansion, and they’ll climb their way back up to 9, 9.5m. And we’ll see a hundred-thousand news stories declaring it the end of WoW, crediting these number drops to Game X coming along, then forgetting that when they report how Game X has gone free to play, before being scrapped entirely.

And I say this as someone who finds WoW about as exciting as vacuuming. And I’d rather stuff fiery plutonium in my testicles than play anything else in their catalogue. This isn’t some WoW-fan-rant here. This is someone saying, “Er, guys – this very old game still has more subscribers than most Western MMOs put together.” It’s just completely ludicrous that everyone is hell-bent on reporting this story as if Blizzard are having some sort of failure on their hands. This is the most ridiculous success imaginable, and while I’m sure their sky-headed accounts people probably expected it to eventually have eighty-billion subscribers by 2020, the realists and the developers at Blizzard probably walk into work every day with the jaws scraping the doorstep. Any sane business model from eight years ago would have expected Blizzard not only to have completed a WoW 2 or a new MMO by now, but have absolutely needed to to keep their business afloat.

Yes, WoW’s numbers are in ‘decline’. No, it’s very unlikely they’ll ever reach their peak again. Why does anyone on the planet think they would? What mad-headed expectations did people create to think that this game would defy logic and reality and maintain an ever-growing player-base for all of infinity? But why isn’t the gaming press, and indeed the mainstream news, saying, “Bloody hell! World Of Warcraft still has ten million subscribers?! How the hell?” Instead we’ll have a hundred more stories explaining that the subscription model for MMOs doesn’t work, and a conflation of Activision’s inability to sell with Blizzard’s success.

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117 Comments »

  1. TsunamiWombat says:

    “Instead we’ll have a hundred more stories explaining that the subscription model for MMOs doesn’t work”

    Because it doesn’t. WoW is grandfathered in. There is no room for WoW and any other paid sub mmo.

    • Emeraude says:

      I may give you “there is no room for another WoW-sized subscription MMO”. I’m far from convinced niche games delivering exactly what their audience wants couldn’t successfully use the model.

      • Belsameth says:

        Eve Online.

        • Emeraude says:

          Well, yes, niche game. 350k users.

          • President Weasel says:

            350k subscribers isn’t “niche” for an MMO.
            350k subscribers makes it one of the most successful paid MMOs of all time in the West, especially half a decade after launch.

            Unfortunately WOW is there, miles off the top of the chart, making people (commentators, people having a chat about MMOs on an internet, finance people at software companies) think that a million subscribers is a reasonable and attainable figure to aim for, and that less than that represents failure.

          • Emeraude says:

            The thing is, we are in agreement about the situation. Just not the wording.

            350k is niche for investors who all want WoW-sized success, and have (had ?) been disregarding it as a desirable objective. It’s niche for the game market in general. It’s pretty great numbers as far as the MMO market is concerned.

          • derbefrier says:

            350,000 players is not a niche game sorry that’s an extremely popular game. The premise of the game may not appeal to millions but it wouldn’t really make sense to use that as a metric anyways. That would be like saying Battlefield 3 is niche because it doesn’t have near as many players as the latest CoD. Does that makes sense? of course not. IF we are judging this purely by numbers and those numbers have to approach an anomaly likes WoWs player base to not be considered a niche game then your system is broken.

          • Blucid says:

            EvE doesnt have 350k Users, to properly play eve you need 2-3 accounts so more like 100,000 users.

          • thebigJ_A says:

            That’s bollocks, and even if it weren’t, you’re figures would *still* be wrong. It’s simple division, man.

          • Emeraude says:

            Average dev cost of a PS360 game: between 15 and 30 million dollars.
            Minimum number of sales before such games become profitable: 500k.

            In the current market (and you may not like it, but the consoles *are* part of the current video game market) 350k is not considered a huge success. Niche may be a stretch, but huge is ridiculous.

            Now the whole approach may be wrong, I do believe so, but I’ll let you go argue about that with financiers.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Don’t forget that WoW usurped Everquest’s throne. Blizzard had to wrest those $15 from the incumbent, and if they can do it anyone can steal it from them.

      • solymer89 says:

        They didn’t have to wrest it from me. WoW was a revelation compared to Everquest. A revelation that lasted six years for me. I’m currently considering going back as well… i do feel a bit dirty thinking about it though.

        The one thing that Everquest did better then Wow, nay, the ONLY thing it did better was the Enchanter class as it opened up the ability for them to make actual challenging dungeon content.

      • Shuck says:

        If you look at the subscriber numbers for MMOs over time, you’ll see that WoW didn’t fill its user base by stealing other MMO’s subscribers. WoW created the modern MMO audience – within a very short time of starting up, WoW had more people playing than had ever played all the previous MMOs put together, and by some orders of magnitude. In other words, most WoW players hadn’t ever played an MMO before (anecdotally, I can say that some had never played video games before). So while WoW may have stolen subscribers from other games, that made up a small portion of their player base.

        This makes the idea that anyone can steal WoW’s players away even more ridiculous. These players’ whole notion of what an MMO is is Warcraft. Trying to pick up disaffected former Wow players is problematic too – since you can’t compete with Wow in terms of features, breadth or player audience size, making a game that’s enough like WoW to draw former players is likely to be a turn-off, as the game will lack in comparison to WoW. The only way to recreate even a portion of WoW’s success is to do what they did – create your own audience. That’s more easily said than done.

        • Brun says:

          WoW created the modern MMO audience

          These players’ whole notion of what an MMO is is Warcraft.

          This is really spot on, and it’s really the rub when you’re trying to make your own MMO.

          • Shuck says:

            Having worked on MMOs, I can say we were quite conscious of the catch-22 involved. The MMO audience had gotten huge, but it’s really a WoW audience. And you can’t compete with WoW. So how does one make an MMO that’s alike enough to WoW to attract former players while offering an experience that’s fundamentally different enough that players won’t dismiss it as more of the same? (My experience tells me that you simply don’t.)

          • Derppy says:

            @Shuck

            Indeed.

            One of the key issues is that World of Warcraft is so extremely polished and rich in content, that it’s impossible to compete with it upon release of your game.

            The game has been developed for over 10 years, getting a hundred million dollars every month from subscriptions alone allows them to put more effort into polishing the released product, than most studios have for the whole development cycle of their game.

            Such a ridiculous, continuous budget stream allows Blizzard to create an expansion that completely replaces all the original content of the game, while still adding more content than most MMO releases have in the first place.

            It’s like they are developing a game that’s already working great, with 10 million testers constantly giving feedback and tons of genuine player data, with budget of billions. How could you compete with that? When you release your game, it will seem like a mess with fraction of content and before you can get the development and polish with subscription money going, the players have already moved back to WoW.

            It’s a shame one game holds such position, but I believe the “WoW killer” will be the next Blizzard MMO. They have the experience and budget to create a game that’s superior to competitors and if people rather stick with WoW, they have the power to “force” majority of them to their new title, by giving it and a month or two of subscription for free and intentionally making changes that drive people away from WoW, to the next best thing, that conveniently happens to be free for a while and is also a Blizzard product.

        • Emeraude says:

          Yup, great way of putting it.

          There may not be much intersecting between, say, the WoW audience, the EVE audience and the people who love the idea of what an MMO could be but have found little to enjoy on the market right now.

          • Shuck says:

            And unfortunately for those looking for something different, there are multiple economic/design pressures that push MMORPGs towards being WoW-like (and thereby towards failure).

          • BooleanBob says:

            Great contributions, here. You keep putting your finger on it.

            Thanks, Shuck. Thuck.

    • Jenks says:

      Subs work for people who want to be immersed in a virtual world. They don’t work for on rails, quest hub driven, gamified, might as well be single player “MMOs.” All we’ve gotten for 7~ years is the latter.

      • Banana_Republic says:

        No, subs work because most people can’t imagine it any other way. But as more titles come out and throw into their faces, that quality isn’t necessarily tied to set-in-stone monthly fees, sub-based games are going to have to go much further in justifying the ongoing expense they require, in comparison to what other games are doing.

        WoW is one of the very few games active today that can justify a subscription, based on nothing more than the quantity of content, let alone the quality. New games won’t have that crutch to lean on. They’ve got to show that their subscription, plus their box price (and very likely their cash shop), provides equal or better value to games that don’t ask for a subscription. That gets increasingly unlikely, every day.

        • Emeraude says:

          The main quality/draw of subs is the leveling field. It delimits and enforces the Magic Circle. Some people don’t want/enjoy the F2P model and what it entails – even if just cosmetic, even more so from a design perspective. They’re well willing to pay a monthly subscription to do away with it.

      • Wreckdum says:

        There is immersion in WoW? Last time I leveled I just quested to level 30 and did dungeon speed runs with a level capped player all the way to end game… Then at end game I just click a button and port into a dungeon… Then when I get all that gear I sit in vent with the same 24 people and run the same dungeons on the same nights of the week. WOOOO for immersion!

        WoW had immersion 7 years ago. Absolutely none today.

        Guild Wars 2 and Planetside 2 are about to carve in to stone F2P is the only way.

        By the way. If you haven’t played Guild Wars 2 but know someone who has an account. Ask them for a free trial invite. Starts next week for the big event.

        https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/info/news/Refer-a-Friend-Free-Trial-is-Coming

        • Azradesh says:

          @ Wreckdum

          “There is immersion in WoW?”

          Yes, it’s there if you want it, it just sounds like you don’t/didn’t.

        • Bahoxu says:

          If you really want to avoid immersion you can probably install a bot to level for you as well.

          That way, its not even a game anymore! Bad warcraft!

    • Eamo says:

      Before WoW came out nobody believed an MMO could top one million subscribers, Everquest the poster child had peaked at under 500k subscribers and everyone was saying that they had the market completely cornered, that no competitor could succeed etc. Now, 8 years later WoW is still running strong with more than 20 times as many subscribers as Everquest had at its peak.

      I think it is wrong to declare any market dead, the reality is there are a lot of people who like the benefits a subscription model has to offer and right now WoW seems to be best at working within that model. The advent of casual games, browser games and now free to play games all have grown the number of gamers by finding new ways to reach potential customers. Just because the new flavour of the month is doing well doesn’t mean the older method is dead. I suspect it is quite likely that the Free to Play space will become saturated soon enough, just like any other successful business model within gaming has, there will still be games that do well within it, just like there are games that still do well with a box game, and games that still do well with subscription but gradually the gimmick will fail to work as the potential market gets diluted by the size of the competition.

    • Domino says:

      Can guarantee that those numbers are inflated by the 10 day trials that you can get for pandaria, heck I used it logged in twice and completely forgot about it, nothing held my interest anymore. It’s turned to the ‘next generation’ of players.

      • Unrein says:

        No, they do not count trial accounts, only full subscriptions.

      • Nevard says:

        Only if you were mad enough to set up and pay a monthly subscription for a ten day free trial would you count on their list of active subscriptions.

    • Megakoresh says:

      Smart man right here.

  2. Meat Circus says:

    For the same reason RPS doesn’t post many WoW stories either: nobody reads them.

    • Nevard says:

      On the contrary, I’m pretty certain this is going to be one of those articles that generates hundreds of comments.
      Look back here in two days and compare it to the comment numbers on other articles posted today.

  3. Quatlo says:

    I expect very rapid drop of subs since they’ve begun to turn Recruit-a-Friend off for people who bought them cheaply from chinese traders. I know no one who is willing to pay for wow subsription in any other currency than ingame gold.

    • Surlywombat says:

      Allow me to introduce myself.

      Now you know someone willing to pay a wow subscription in real life money.

    • mynsc says:

      Hi there, my name is Gabriel, I’m 27 years old and I’m paying for my WoW subscription with real-life, hard-earned may I add, money.

      Now you can say that you know someone.

    • Loopy says:

      Hello! You can also add me to that list. Now you know three people who pay for their subscription with hard-earned cash! ;)

    • Nevard says:

      I’ve actually never met anyone in the game who doesn’t pay for it with real life cash, and my guild has ~70 people in it

    • Quatlo says:

      Nice to meet you, it is interesting as I’ve played in many multi-national guilds and most of them bought pp’s from chinese. I gues I was overexaggerating a bit.

      • thebigJ_A says:

        “Overexaggerating” isn’t a word. The word you’re looking for is “exaggerating”. It means precisely what you’re trying to say without the superfluous ‘over-’.

      • Nevard says:

        Did they even have RaF in TBC? It certainly didn’t have the exp bonus back then, and that’s when their subs were rising the fastest.

  4. InternetBatman says:

    I think the math might be a bit wrong for the amount of money they make. They offer people discounts if they buy large blocks at a time, and most people still playing probably do that.

    • mynsc says:

      Plus, many of these players are from China, where as far as I know WoW has no subscription. The players there pay depending on how many hours they play. It might come out cheaper or more expensive, can’t say, but I doubt that the average cost is the same as one western subscription.

  5. Chris England says:

    I may be incorrect about this, but haven’t the WoW subscription figures always included a (large) number of Asian “subscribers” who don’t pay the normal monthly fee, but pay via gamecards that give a fixed number of days of access instead?

    I only mention it because I seem to recall that the Asian chaps bring in a lot less money than a subscriber in the traditional Western model would, so that $1.7 billion revenue may be substantially less in reality. Not that I’d turn my nose up at a mere billion dollars or so per year…

    • mynsc says:

      Straight from the horse’s mouth, from last night’s Conference Call press release to be more exact:

      “Subscriber Definition: Consistent with past practice, World of Warcraft subscribers include individuals who have paid a subscription fee or have an active prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access. Internet Game Room players who have accessed the game over the last thirty days are also counted as subscribers. The above definition excludes all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or cancelled subscriptions, and expired prepaid cards. Subscribers in licensees’ territories are defined along the same rules.”

    • Arglebargle says:

      Yes, the Asian players should really be sequestered out as a different group, as their monetary contributions to the game’s income doesn’t fit the ‘Subscribers# X Fee = Profit!’ numbers. Probably drops the game to 4 million in the West, nothing to sneeze at. But it is defined the way it is to make things look better.

      Also some of the info I have seen has shown WoW trying to move into new areas of the world, despite the very different levels of money to be made. In part, those moves keep out competitors from gaining footholds there.

      WoW is still an outlier, a one time, right time, right place event. I personally don’t get it. One week was enough for me.

    • KilgoreTrout_XL says:

      I’m pretty sure the pay by the hour rule is required by the law in a lot of the places you’re referring to. But you can buy large chunks of gameplay- including 3 months’ worth- ahead of time. It costs less, but the average yearly income in China (for example) is something like $4,300. So are you saying that they aren’t actual subscribers because they pay less and via a payment mechanic required by law?

      And if you just want Activision to make separate categories for “subscribers” and for “asian subscribers”, I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to do that.

      • Llewyn says:

        No, he just wants to point out that it doesn’t work to take that gross subscriber number and multiply it by a subscription level paid by a portion of those subscribers and declare that Blizzard are raking in £1bn/year.

        • KilgoreTrout_XL says:

          Oh, ok. Well that’s fair enough.

          And yeah, it was $4.76 billion in revenue in 2011.

  6. Sulaco says:

    The mind boggles at how much money this crap is still raking in.

    • po says:

      And where it’s going, because it’s certainly not going into development.

  7. Shantara says:

    I quit WoW back in 2009 and never looked back. It boggles me that some people still continue playing the same game with small cosmetic tweaks after all these years. There are so many fascinating games, movies, books and so little free time that it just seems like an enormous waste…

    • djbriandamage says:

      The game has changed enormously every expansion. My subscription flits in and out as I play other games but I keep coming back to WoW for the mechanics, community, and ever-increasing variety of quest activities. Mists of Pandaria is Blizzard’s best content yet and it was a pleasure to level a new toon to 90 these past several weeks.

    • Moraven says:

      Wife, friends and new content is interesting and different enough. Boggles my mind why people still complain about people having fun. I mean, why keep coming back to XCom over 20 years when you got the new one to play! Or people that still play EQ and Ultima Online.

      They have shown new character models with high profile NPCs. I agree they need to get quicker on that and give us new race models.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Forget the game content, that’s only part of it. I spent 2 years on Call of Duty 1 servers, 2 years on The Movies, more on Jedi Academy. When you find a community you love, it’s very hard to break away from that.

    • mynsc says:

      And it boggles my mind how some people can be so closed-minded.

      It’s well polished, constantly updated, with TONS of content and countless ways to play. Because of how long it’s been active, the game is so huge you can play for months and not touch any of the content from the current expansion.

      Even more, forming a group of 25 players and learning to work as a team to overcome challenges (that are usually very well designed may I add) has got to be one of the most fun activities available now in any MMO.

      If you think fighting against an AI is stupid, then you can do exactly the same thing against other players, through rated Battlegrounds or Arenas, if you prefer being in a smaller team.

      Don’t like fighting of any form? Well Ok then, you can get into crafting, into Auction House peddling, try the Pet Battles, RP with your friends, get into Achievements hunting etc etc

      Having said this, why does it seem so hard for you to understand how some people still enjoy this game? Would be pretty funny if you were a SWtoR or Rift player too, 2 games that can easily be mistaken for WoW if you close one eye.

      • Kyrius says:

        ^ this! SO much this. I’ve been playing wow for 2 years now and those points are so true! There is so much to do, see, read… And I agree when you say that MoP was the best content provided yet (even though they could have added a little more background for the people who didn’t read all the books – not my case).

      • Unrein says:

        Those “countless ways to play”, frankly, are a bit shit. Most MMO gameplay is a fairly shallow grind you only withstand because of the “extended family” and a chatroom a guild is. MMO gameplay is essentially checking boxes on a form, and then comparing your forms with others.

        • InternetBatman says:

          That’s not really true of WoW. Some of their bosses are dumb gear checks, but a lot of them require an unorthodox strategy, teamwork, and reactive tactics. The original Naxx was a great example of this, where they had a dance fight which required constant movement and a fight where a priest had to mind control a minion to tank them. They do a lot of neat variations on a basic theme.

          Outside bosses and the weird encounter group, grinding is grinding. Sometimes it gets neat, like nether dragon grinding (where badass dragon riders are patrolling overhead, so you have to duck in, get the eggs, and duck out), but on average grinding is just the filler in the middle of exploration.

          It is reaching limits, but what game wouldn’t be after this long?

          • Brun says:

            Comparing some of the more recent bosses to the original raid bosses from Vanilla, the complexity is like night and day. Blizzard has had to go to some truly extraordinary lengths to keep their encounters ahead of mods, strategy videos, and a playerbase that has steadily gotten better at its own game over the past 8 years.

        • KilgoreTrout_XL says:

          The complexity of Warcraft’s gameplay is most certainly “a bit shit” when the person calling it “a bit shit” is doing so because he wants to describe it that way and is hampered by not knowing anything about that MMO’s gameplay.

          In order to mask the ignorance of the subject matter, that person could always just go ahead and say “it’s shit”, and then maybe add in a line about “clicking a box”, and then use the word “form”. Forms are pretty lame.

          And then us players would suddenly realize: we pay a monthly fee in order to log into an IRC and fill out some forms and click a box and then proofread other people’s forms and papers and checked boxes.

          And then we’d all feel pathetic and intellectually inferior on account of the powerful strength of your argument.

      • Vorphalack says:

        ”Having said this, why does it seem so hard for you to understand how some people still enjoy this game?”

        I’d say because everything you listed, except WoW styled raids, are done better (often much better) in other games. Mashing a few relatively bland features together does not make the experience greater than the sum of its parts. While WoW’s raids continue to be the biggest strong point, the game even torpedoes that by releasing new content at the glacial pace of a 6 month patch cycle. 6 months is a long time, and frankly an embarrassment for a game with such a large revenue base.

        • Azradesh says:

          That’s true, but what other game has them all? For me the sum is greater than the parts.

          • Apocalypse says:

            The problem is, we get way better value for our money with different games. I spend literally thousands of dollars and I have to admit that I feel like I wasted about half my money. The industry has whole would have been better off without the world of Warcraft, huge amounts of PC gamers time and budgets got sucked into this single game for many years. Not good for gamers in general, even for those who enjoyed wow.

          • Azradesh says:

            Hmm, I find I save huge sums of money when I’m playing WoW, because when I’m not bored of it I don’t need to buy any new games.

            So yes I’ve spent £100s on WoW over the years, but I’d have spent £100s more if I hadn’t been playing it. At least 4 times more each month.

          • KilgoreTrout_XL says:

            Absolutely. The $15 (but more accurately, me enjoying the game) has kept me from wasting money on games I probably won’t enjoy dozens of times.

            Besides, $15? You should see my cable/internet bill.

  8. djbriandamage says:

    Blizzard is one hell of a talented, smart developer. Much of WoW’s popularity is due to pure momentum (i.e., you play what your friends play) but people remain loyal to the game because of Blizzard’s savvy, adaptability, and innovation. Personally, if I ask myself at any given moment of an MMO gaming session “am I having a good time right now?” I’m much more likely to answer in the affirmative playing WoW than any other MMO to date.

    I’d wager Mists of Pandaria will have the longest tail yet, retaining more subscribers than previous expansions, due to the addition of more endgame content and grindy reputation titles to earn.

  9. sinister agent says:

    Even today, if you say “MMO”, people – even those who don’t play games – will think “world of warcraft”. It’s still one of, if not the most successful game ever made. Nobody else has managed that with another genre – even Mario had competition from Sonic, and both had to spew out nine bajillion sequels and increasingly tenuous spin-offs just to stay visible.

    And yet I’d still rather walk around the city trying to find and original nintendo and all the cables and televisions that would work with them, then original cartridges, and play those games than play WoW. It would involve less work, for a start.

  10. db1331 says:

    I played WoW on and off since vanilla and through the first 3 expansions. I had a couple characters at the level cap. I did some raids, but mostly enjoyed the solo leveling and 5 mans. I got burned out on it pretty bad a couple months after Cata and quit cold turkey, probably for almost a year.

    I pre-ordered GW2 the week before their last beta weekend, just so I could get in on it. I had been following the game for what felt like forever, and was really itching to play it. I played maybe almost 2 hours that Friday night, and about 30 minutes the next morning before putting in a request for a refund. I hated it. Oddly enough, it just made me want to play WoW again. So I thought.

    So a week later, I reinstalled WoW and renewed my sub for just a month (thank goodness). I thought I would make a new character and see all the changes to the classic zones from Cata, since I hadn’t done that yet. I absolutely hated it. I couldn’t even get a character to level 4 before the boredom set in. Turns out I didn’t hate GW2, I was just tired of MMOs in general. I cancelled my sub and uninstalled the game with like 27 days still active on my account. At least I know I’m done with WoW (and possibly all MMOs) for good now.

    • Emeraude says:

      I’m in a somewhat similar position, though now that I take time to think about it, the problem is more that I’ve grown unwilling to commit to any MMO unless it’s been made clear that the game will given to the community when it ceases to be commercially used (i.e: no such thing, for sad but understandable reasons).

      I’m just tired of spending all the time and effort to build and manage a community – sometimes it’s almost akin to having a second management job – only to see it all go down the drain when the owners of the game decide they can’t profit from it anymore. It’s like – whether by design or as a byproduct of diverse structuring imperatives – they hold whole communities hostage. And I can’t bear to deal with it anymore.

    • apocraphyn says:

      Same story as you for the majority of the first paragraph, albeit with a lot more H4RDC0R3 R41D1NG towards the end of TBC and throughout WOTLK. Had lots of great fun with the game, but despite the fact that Cataclysm seemed to be offering what was considered a more challenging and meaty experience, it only amounted in draining far too much time out of the weeks I played it. Balancing a job and a raid schedule meant it was almost impossible to catch up with the initial prepping for Cataclysm’s raids, meaning I was massively disadvantaged compared to others. In the end, one thing led to another and I cancelled my subscription.

      Since that point, many others I knew have quit WoW too – most much more fervent than I ever was about the game. None of them have returned to WoW for Pandaria. Nor have I. First time I haven’t returned to WoW upon them bringing out a new expansion.

      And again, quite contrarily – I also bought Guild Wars 2. Quite enjoyed it! Got a character to level 80, completed the personal story and have returned to it on an occasional basis to either have a jaunt around, participate in the seasonal events or to get my ass handed to me in PvP/WvW. The lack of a subscription fee makes the experience far more liberating.

    • antoniodamala says:

      Even though GW2 was far more interesting than WoW to me, the same feeling about MMO has crossed my mind. I can’t see a point anymore in grinding all day long and such.

    • Naum says:

      Similar story here as well. I had high hopes for GW2, but it turns out that MMOs in general probably won’t work for me until huge leaps in design and technology happen. Singleplayer games and smaller-scale multiplayer shooters simply do the story and/or gameplay so very much better than any MMO, and the community part doesn’t make up for the deficits. Which is kind of unfortunate because I really like the idea of games as an inherently social experience.

  11. Noburu says:

    ” And I’d rather stuff fiery plutonium in my testicles than play anything else in their catalogue. ”

    Its quotes like this that keep me coming back and reading every single story, even if its about something I dont particularly care about.

  12. iucounu says:

    Do we know these numbers are true?

    • caddyB says:

      No, but if they lied it would be very, very bad for them, legally.

      • iucounu says:

        Why, are they a PLC?

        • drewski says:

          Blizzard’s parent company, Activision Blizzard, is publicly traded, yes. Vivendi own about 61%, and if you’ve got US$4b or so, you can snap up the rest on the NASDAQ.

    • frightlever says:

      Who knows? Reality could be no more than a dream.

      Just saying.

  13. mrmalodor says:

    Why?

  14. trjp says:

    This thread is going to turn into a mixture of a pub full of old people singing songs about the old days and a rehab clinic of people who have no self-esteem, never go out and blame it all on a game

    isn’t it…

    I’ll be by the piano singing songs of a lost world – showing pictures of my adventures – and grumbling a bit about how there wasn’t actually any WAR in it.

    I once called it Barbie Orc Adventures and so many people got their knickers in a knot that I knew I was right about that – but I still have my “Barbies” :)

    • Lysaara says:

      Barbie Orc Adventures! I love it :D

      I like to think of myself as neither a nostalgic old fart nor a shivering junkie. I like WoW, it’s bright and pretty and fun, there’s lots to do, and my guildmates are horrible jerks/lovely people. There’s little more to it than that.

  15. Cooper says:

    WoW’s mac client just works. And on 5 year old Macbooks too. Which means it’s pretty much the only MMO I can play with my partner (City of Heroes is now closing) that doesn’t involve pissing about with wine wrappers.

    Until GW2′s client for the Mac reduces it’s requirement in line with minimum PC specs, I’m stuck with WoW. Despite everyone I know berating it, it’s surprisingly not a steaming pile of shit and – on occasion – quite fun in its own right. It’s certainly fun if you’re playing it with someone else. It’s also surprisingly accessible for someone who’s never really played games.

    However, I would tear my own eyes out before I ever played it solo.

  16. Banana_Republic says:

    Why isn’t anyone reporting this? Because it isn’t news. 10M subscribers means the game is still in decline, just like the trends have been showing for a while now. If it had managed to reach 12M again, that would have been interesting. That would have been worth reporting. The fact that it received a very average bump after the release of an expansion is par for the course, and something that any gamer who was even slightly plugged into the industry could have predicted.

    Not sure why the author here seems to think he’s got cause to shake his finger in people’s faces. This “news” is anything but insightful and hardly constitutes the zinger that he seems to think it is. Come back when numbers either hit 8M or 12M. Everything in between is just content filler for a slow news day.

    • sinister agent says:

      The numbers have gone up. This is the opposite of a decline.

      • Banana_Republic says:

        With an expansion released, that’s exactly what was expected. A moderate bump in numbers. Nothing even vaguely intriguing about that. If it had jumped to it’s previous high of 12M, that would have been worth discussing. Or if there was no bump at all, that also would have been interesting.

        The trend continues as before: lower numbers with a shorter retention. Surprise me and tell me when that changes.

        • mynsc says:

          You completely missed the point of the article. Yes, the peak days are probably gone, but an 8 year old game, in an industry that has to go F2P to keep surviving, has just gained almost 1 million paying subscribers, reaching a total number of 10 million. You know what any SWtoR dev would give to achieve something like that for their not yet 1 year old AAA game? Nothing, because they already dont even dare dream such a thing.

          Another point I think is that some people like to keep yelling that the game is dying, even if history and the present constantly contradict them. Yes, the game will eventually die, but by now it should be pretty clear to anyone with an unbiased mind that it will die on its own terms.

  17. ahac says:

    > we’re talking about 10 million people who are still paying £9 a month.

    No, we are not. Most of the “subscribers” are in China and they pay much less.
    The number of subscribers in the west (US, Europe, …) is probably somewhere around 4 million…. which is still amazing.

    • Moraven says:

      And not all pay ~$15/£9. Some will pay $10-$14 a month. You can use $15 to see the most they could potentially get but it won’t be near that.

    • frightlever says:

      John Walker from RPS should launch one of his legendary investigations into the crazy numbers being quoted in this article. How long are journalists going to keep lying to us?

  18. antoniodamala says:

    Is Blizzard the EA/Zynga of “hardcore” gaming? This idea has been passing through my head lately. Not that their games are shit or something, is jut that ever since WoW i have this feeling that the main objectives of their is games is controling and milking money from their players.

    • Moraven says:

      Well the one Klaxxi Paragon does have a strong mind control spell, but Blizzard gave it to me to use so I think I am safe.

      Or gasp, people enjoy their games still and like to play!

    • Emeraude says:

      Mostly yes, everything they do seem to point at their no more tying to expand their market, but rather close it and maximize profit-per-capita.

  19. Walf says:

    I’m not surprised. It’s a damn good expansion with a good amount of content to play through. Does it feel old hat at times? Sure, but I’ve honestly have yet to play an MMO yet that feels like it hits all the same notes as perfectly, or strays away from the perfected and polished gameplay they’ve been refining the last 8 plus years. So good on you Blizzard. :) Now, if they can just keep the content coming regularly now, then I’ll be extremely happy. :D

  20. sdancer says:

    Now for the hard part:

    Telling all the other MMO studios that no, they can’t have 10 million subscribers too.

    It’s like dragging a child past the sweets at the checkout.

  21. aliksy says:

    I kind of think less of people who only play WoW. It’s like someone who tells you they like music, but all they listen to is Kiss.

    • Azradesh says:

      No doubt many people play it just a little too much. I dislike the idea of mono gaming, in any game, not just WoW, but I get why many people do it.

  22. ScubaMonster says:

    How many annual passes are still active? I think it’s starting to get close for those to expire. I have a feeling you’re going to be seeing some big dips in numbers after that. Then again, people can’t seem to get enough of doing the same crap over and over in WoW (this coming from a former long time WoW subscriber).

    • Nevard says:

      I’m pretty sure a lot of the early ones have already expired

    • Moraven says:

      They came out Late Oct of last year (mine expired 2 weeks ago or so). I think they kept the promo going until D3 release.

      D3 gave something for people to do until the Expansion came out. You might have logged in a few days a week but there was nothing new to do or keep you engaged at the end of Cata.

  23. Xaromir says:

    I just wish WoW would go away. I wasted my youth with that BS. Well, half of those accounts are probably just gold/bot farms anyways.

    • Nevard says:

      That argument always confused me because if your bot makes up a significant portion of the playerbase of an MMO you are going to be spending more money than you are bringing in by selling the gains of it to any of the actual players. It doesn’t take much thinking to show how it doesn’t make any sense at all.

    • KilgoreTrout_XL says:

      Exactly right. At least half the accounts are bots. I bet my “friends” are bots too.

      Either that or I’m a bot myself and I just became self-aware.

  24. Manfred says:

    I think WoW may have picked up a lot of new players in this expansion, that is people who have never played it before or who left a few expansions back. Looking at my peer group, which admittedly is in no way large enough to represent anything, only two have bought MoP and only one of them is still playing, and this is the same group of people who all said they had more than enough of WoW, but still bought and played Cata for at least a month.
    That tells me that Blizzard may have found that new group of players Pandaria (and some updates before) was designed to grab, casual players. From what I have heard, the new Zones reward exploration and just puttering around, the raids have been made available for everyone, the new systems like transmogrification and the pet battle system seems to be tailor made for more casual and social players who just like to hang out in-game.
    And I think this group will be more likely stick around, both because they consume the new content slower, but also because they, as I said before just like to hang out around the game, they dont have that drive and urgency to get the best gear from dungeons and later raids or reach the top of the arena ladders and therefore will not be as likely to burn out from doing the same content again and again. And consequently, these players are gonna be the ones who make WoW profitable between the big bursts of cash it generates with expansions (from the box price and maybe 2-3 months of paid subs from players like me).

  25. Rudel says:

    Guys, c’mon. I really like your page but this is another article posted in a few weeks (still remembering that strange SC2 esport article) that feels not right. Please think before posting an article. There are NOT 10 million subscribers that pay 9 £ a month, because the vast majority of the subs comes from countries where people pay way less. I am not a hater btw, actually I am one of those 10 million. But I really dislike reading stupid stuff…

    • Moraven says:

      Then you must really hate every other game site writing an Article about Acti/Blizzard’s quarterly report.

      The eSports articles are reprints from EFSI. Smaller audience for this site but hopefully gets more people to read up on it.

    • Gozuu says:

      Straight from the horse’s mouth, from last night’s Conference Call press release to be more exact:

      “Subscriber Definition: Consistent with past practice, World of Warcraft subscribers include individuals who have paid a subscription fee or have an active prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access. Internet Game Room players who have accessed the game over the last thirty days are also counted as subscribers. The above definition excludes all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or cancelled subscriptions, and expired prepaid cards. Subscribers in licensees’ territories are defined along the same rules.”

  26. Carra says:

    The problem I’m starting to have is a general MMO burnout. I had a lot of fun playing through the Pandaria content but I’m tired of it after a month. The same with the latest mmo’s like Guild Wars or SWTor. A lot of fun for a month but after that I stopped playing. It’s nothing like the start of WoW where I spent years playing.

    It’s time someone brings out a new, revolutionary MMO.

  27. afarrell says:

    Where is Wulf to tell us to wait until Guild Wars 2 comes out, and then the spell will be broken?

  28. nimzy says:

    To put this in perspective, they released World of Warcraft in 2004. Between then and now Blizzard has released exactly two games: Diablo III and Starcraft II.

    They’re clearly sitting on an enormous pile of money, but what are they spending it on? Titan and the Starcraft expansions? Fancy offices? No wonder Vivendi wants to dump them.

  29. thebigJ_A says:

    Who *are* those people? They’re like some kind of foreign life to me. Rather like those odd hypocritical superstitious beings in the redder areas of my country.

    Effing Pandas. Boggles the mind.

  30. Kyrius says:

    One last comment, just to bring some “new” clarifications:

    http://www.joystiq.com/2012/11/09/mists-of-pandaria-and-the-new-age-of-the-world-of-warcraft/