It’s interesting to follow the fate of World of Warcraft [official site]. It’s the MMORPG which made MMORPGs mainstream, the MMO which accidentally stunted ’em by inspiring so many homogenising imitators, and one of the few which has managed to hold onto a subscription model (heck, even EVE Online is getting a free option). So how’s WoW doing? Pretty well! In their traditional post-expansion boast, Blizzard say Legion has sold over 3.3 million copies (or so they think) and seen player numbers (by one measure) at their highest since the launch of 2010’s expansion Catalysm.
As ever, they can’t just say “We’ve looked at the numbers on that whole Battle.net doodad we have with registrated accounts and whatnot and here are the actual numbers.”
Instead, the announcement says things like “as of the expansion’s first full day of launch on August 30, more than 3.3 million copies of Legion had sold through, matching the all-time record achieved by previous expansions and making it one of the fastest-selling PC games ever.” With a little citation note saying that’s “Based on internal company records and/or reports from key distribution partners.”
That’ll cover pre-orders and launch day sales, and presumably it’s sold a few more copies since. (‘Sold through’ is the number actually sold – ‘sold in’ is the figure publishers often announce in the hope that people don’t realise it includes copies sitting on shop shelves.)
If those 3.3 million copies were gumballs and someone fired them out a paintball gun at you, it’d flipping hurt.
As for player numbers, they say “World of Warcraft’s launch-week player concurrency climbed to its highest point since the 2010 launch of the Cataclysm expansion”. Because they couldn’t say anything simply, could they.
If you hosted a barbecue for all those concurrent players, you might need to make three trips to the shop for baps alone. At least two trips. And you’d definitely want a hand on the fizzy pop run.
Blizzard don’t report WoW subscriber numbers anymore. Which is fair enough – it’s their business – but I was always curious to follow how it was doing. Even squinting at curious metrics is still fun. The subscriber count is certainly down from its peak of 12 million (though Blizzard’s definition of ‘subscriber’ might be different to yours – it’s not strictly people paying fees, also including folks who’ve played in Internet game rooms at any point in the past 30 days) but 3.3 million copies sold is still a mighty big number.
I believe we’ll have someone telling you Wot They Think of Legion soonish.