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.

At its peak, World of Warcraft hit a staggering 12 million active subscriptions. That was at the end of 2010, during the launch of its third expansion, Cataclysm.

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.

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5 Comments on Blizzard No Longer Expects Growth in WoW Subscriptions

Michael

On August 21, 2014 at 5:42 pm

The problem was really not Pandas. Its is Blizzards detouring from the lore of the game. The game has been having big problems with there story telling since the beginning. Vanilla nothing really mattered. Then Burning crusade there was no lore on the new Blood elves or Draenai races as well as a fitting end to Illidian. When Wrath was released they tried improving there story but failed at the climatic end of it. I really was waiting for an epic ending since Warcraft 3 the frozen throne. Then Cataclysm remade Vanilla WOW and I really thought they will fix all the problems lorewise and still nothing. Its like you are playing to kill x number of creatures to return x number of items. People gave up here. The whole game then became an orccentric game and Warlords is proving that once again.

The game content really needs to cater to the side you chose, not a universal goal. Both factions has the same quests, the same common enemy, the same dungeons, the same gear etc. Nothing is indistinguishable between the two factions. No matter if you are horde or alliance you are still playing the same game. This is what they need to change.

Tim

On August 21, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Michael’s post is dead accurate, the game has serious problems with lore and gameplay, meaning it can’t hold the casual player’s attention.

GazH

On August 22, 2014 at 12:16 am

Having come from years in original EverQuest, starting pre-expansions, moving over to WoW was like jumping into a childrens game. I really didn’t like it, it kept me until around level 40ish and then I’d had enough of quest chains and being guided around by the nose. But more importantly, I hated being able to solo my way through just about everything.

And with that in mind, I’ll be happy to see the last subscriber leave WoW and the game be shut down, because ever since it’s launch MMO’s have gone downhill in an effort to copy the game and gain some of those massive amounts of subscribers.

Quest chains are now the only way to advance in MMO’s, solo based gameplay is the name of the game with multiplayer being an afterthought, the worlds have become linear with small areas full of wandering mobs that you have to kill X of before progressing to the next small area full of wandering mobs that you have to kill X of.

When I played original EverQuest I imagined a future with advanced hardware, where the worlds would be almost realistic, artificial intelligence would astound us as mobs went from static spawns to moving around the world under their own guidance, building settlements and attacking cities. And then WoW came along and turned the genre into a linear quest chasing cartoon.

Good riddance.

rickshaw

On August 23, 2014 at 5:40 pm

“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.”
This is why wow is failing. n falling.

Judas

On August 24, 2014 at 8:57 pm

I used to Love WoW, then Cataclysm changed so much content. The difficulty spike was frustating, the talents got trimmed and dumbed down, and the class balancing was relentless with mastery being introduced. Lich King was the height of the Franchise for me. Since then many more MMO’s have released and faded away, each showing a new engine and mechanic. Over 10 years WoW has not changed to keep pace, but the consumer has. I am happily enjoying TESO for the time being. I left WoW and revisited it for a short time in Mists. It was a pretty expansion and did a nice job, but I felt little motivation to want to pay a monthly sub for the dated MMO. Blizzard made a ton of money.