So It Goes: World Of Warcraft Loses 1.3 Million More Subs

By Nathan Grayson on May 9th, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

Clearly, all this 'massively multiplayer' silliness was a fad. Can we have Warcraft IV now?

That’s subscribers. Not subway sandwiches. Don’t get me wrong: I’d definitely put out a press release and hold an investor call if I misplaced a veritable volcano fortress of sandwiches. In it, I would drastically downgrade my quarterly expectations and ask if I could borrow a few hundred-thousand loaves of bread from anyone. But anyway. Activision gathered its friends and countrymen for another sermon on the moneymount today, and of course, World of Warcraft was a big focus. And while the previous reported total of 9.6 million subscribers was still quite impressive in its own way, it wasn’t exactly on the up-and-up. Since the end of last year, the most massive player in the massively multiplayer arena has bled another 1.3 million people, their shiny crimson change pooling into the gutters below. The kicker? In a decidedly un-Activision move, the publishing behemoth’s actually starting to feel a bit worried.

Emerging from his impregnable cocoon of businessly solitude, Acti CEO Bobby Kotick explained/screeched in some unfathomable tongue:

“Though the majority of our subscriber decline occurred mainly in the East, where we have more subscribers and lower revenue per subscriber, we saw declines in the West as well. While we do believe further declines are likely and we expect to have fewer subscribers at year-end than we do today, World of Warcraft remains one of the most successful franchises in the history of entertainment.”

The plan? Release more content more frequently, which is something Blizzard’s been promising (and inconsistently delivering on) for years. Meanwhile, in spite of WoW’s status as a household name, the MMO titan (who did not once mention its other MMO, Titan) admitted that it’s starting to feel pressure from free-to-play. At least, in, um, Asia. “There has been an increase in competition with free-to-play games in Asia,” said Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime. “People consume content quickly. We need to create more innovative content to keep people engaged.”

For now, though, 8.3 million is quite a ways to fall from a one-time high of 12 million. I doubt another expansion will be along for quite some time, either, seeing as Mists of Pandaria’s only been in the wild since last fall. Can smaller, meatier content chunks fill the gap? Does it even matter anymore? Obviously, WoW’s far from doomed, but eventually people just get bored of stuff – except for, you know, breathing and kitties. Personally, I’ll probably never touch WoW again, even though it was my life a few years ago. How about you?

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164 Comments »

  1. Apocalypse says:

    Personally, I’ll probably never touch WoW again, even though it was my life a few years ago.
    Bobby stole the life of WoW and I am not interested about his business sheets. Developers with bed sheets was fine for me.

    • Shooop says:

      How can you steal something from a game if it never had it to begin with?

  2. Armante says:

    Never, ever played it. Not going to.

    The endless grind isn’t my favourite way to pass the few precious hours of game time I have a week.

  3. vexis58 says:

    When “release more content more frequently” ends up being a bunch of 3-person “heroic scenarios” that completely ignore the trinity that is the main reason some of us stick with this particular game (my husband doesn’t like GW2 because he can’t be a tank), while simultaneously not using the queue system that they’ve been building up for the last couple of years (I don’t see how spamming trade chat for random strangers is any different from having the server do it for me), we’ve been logging in less and less lately.

    I had a lot of fun back in Burning Crusade, but nowadays I only slog through the new stuff in WoW so that I can see the content and keep current in conversation with my friends who still play. I’d really love to see more RPGs that I can play with my husband without requiring us to grab three other random people in order to see most of the content. Single-player games are fun, but two-player games would be even better. Alas, the Skyrim multiplayer mod still doesn’t work, last time I checked.

  4. sophof says:

    Frankly I’m surprised they still have so many…

  5. Stephen Roberts says:

    They could always bring back content that they have overwritten. I would return to World of Warcraft to Play ‘Vanilla’ content, if it was still there. Player level should define the expansion you are playing in and with it the content you can experience, and the mechanics. Vanilla talent trees until the player opts to start receiving XP at level 60, at which point they are in the Burning Crusade expansion. This would drastically increase the time it takes to level and allow whole guilds to re-experience old raid bosses and mechanics as they were at the time. I started playing WoW when Burning Crusade was in full swing. The game progressed way faster than I could. It felt like I was at a sushi bar and the belt was moving too quickly to get the food. I could see it. But I couldn’t get to it.

    It would mean there are several ‘end games’ as you hit each expansion at 60-70-80-85 and now 90 (guessing a little here). It would mean the game is more about fun and enjoyment than some odd near-obsessional focus on ‘grinding’. I don’t think I ever grinded anything ever in WoW. If it wasn’t (subjective) fun, I didn’t do it.

    • Kaddrius says:

      My wife and I met playing WoW, back when it was vanilla and it took months to level. There were lots of people running around, and lots of PVP too, so aside from the usual AI mobs there were other players to worry about. It was grindy and fun and rewards felt like they were earned for a reason.

      Now? Everyone flies. Nobody walks, and outside the cities the place is a ghost town. Kiddies level up so fast I don’t know what the point of a sub is, except to stupidly grind for the next set of armor to do dungeons….

      After a couple years away my wife tried it again and were very disappointed. It was way too easy to get stuff and pointless to do quests when toons level past even the main ones. WoW has been bleeding subscribers for years because there is absolutely no social aspect any more. It’s only about how you grind.

      I always liked the battlegrounds but they can get repetitive if that’s the only thing worth playing.

  6. VerdisQuo says:

    Yeah, I feel Blizz killed it by trying to make the game appeal to a larger player base. my .02

    So I went here: http://www.emeralddream.com It’s a pure vanilla WoW experience (patch 1.12,) with a good player base, and raiding possible through AQ. Currently, BWL is in the works by guilds. I’m 38 and excited for my mount! That is after I grind out the gold to buy it.

    There’s PvP, twinks, raids on towns, raids on cities, PvE progression, you name it. And everyone’s fricking polite! You’ve got eauropean players, US players, canadian players, russian, everything! Everyone speaks English though.

  7. Jeditech says:

    I’ll Say it if no one else will.
    Mists of Pandaria is stupid. Most players are mature enough that they find the Pandas Juvenile and especially their little Pokemon pets. Pandas killed WOW. I hate to admit it but I bought the Panda crap expansion and it turned me off to the game and I stopped playing the next month.

    The panda idea started as an April Fools Joke about having a Pandaren Brewmaster character. Some moron got the “bright” idea to make another full expansion out of it. Just plain DUMB. Here is an axiom – Just because some dumba$$ executive has an idea, doesn’t mean it’s a good one.

    So, Blizzard if you want your subscribers back, bring out another REAL expansion like Burning Crusade, or Lich King or Cataclysm. Not another cutsy stupid expansion, Get an expansion with TEETH and subscribers will return.