Blizzard No Longer Expects Growth in WoW Subscriptions
After its release in November, 2004, World of Warcraft’s growth was unstoppable. It was so fast that Blizzard couldn’t cope with the huge demand for its first and only MMO and had to pull the game from store shelves until it could upgrade the hardware to cope with the subscriber numbers.
Since then, WoW subscriber numbers have been dropping, moreso during the “dead period” between the announcement of the next expansion and its launch date. Usually, subscriber numbers pick up after a new expansion’s launch, and hits a peak amount of activity during the first 30 days, before the subscription period kicks in after the “free month” included with a copy of the title.
However, after the launch of WoW’s last expansion, Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft has bled a large number of subscribers, down to 6.8 million as of July this year. While that’s still a large number for an MMO that’s reaching its 10th birthday, compared to WoW’s peak, it’s a harsh reality that WoW isn’t doing as well as it used to be.
With the fifth expansion on the horizon in Warlords of Draenor, Blizzard expects subscription numbers to be juiced up a little, just as they have been with previous expansions. In an interview with MCV, Lead Game Designer Tom Chilton admitted, “We really don’t know if it will grow again. It is possible, but I wouldn’t say it’s something that we expect. Our goal is to make the most compelling content we can.”
Chilton added: “By building expansions, you are effectively building up barriers to people coming back. But by including the level 90 character with this expansion, it gives people the opportunity to jump right into the new content.”
Only time will tell after Warlords of Draenor is released if Blizzard’s expectations of little or no growth are realized, but one wonders what this could mean for the future of WoW and Blizzard’s plans for the future. Meanwhile, expect the expansion to be released on Nov. 13.