Cherry Picked: WoW Revenue Fell 54 Percent in 7 Months

World of Warcraft is nearly a decade old and it still has more than 7 million monthly subscribers. Blizzard’s golden child has warded off countless challengers in that lengthy span, not the least of which is Father Time, and it is still the undisputed champion of MMORPGs. But according to a new report (which is greatly exaggerated, but we’ll get to that in a bit), WoW not only lost another 2.3 million subs over the past year, its revenue has been cut in half. According to SuperData Research, WoW’s revenue plummeted from $204 million in September 2012 to $93 million in April 2013.

Tom’s Hardware directs us to the SuperData Research report entitled, “World of Warcraft is thinking about microtransations, and that’s a good thing.” The researchers make the case that while WoW should maintain its monthly subscription fee, it needs to act quickly to stem the revenue slide by adding microtransactions — something Blizzard already announced it is actively exploring.

WoW is following in the footsteps of a number of formerly subscription-based titles that have dabbled in the hybrid or free-to-play realm, like Star Wars: The Old Republic, Aion, and more recently, RIFT,” SuperData Research states. “Many industry players have eyed this hybrid space, but navigating it requires a lot of knowledge. How do you get someone to shell out $50 for a retail title, or $15 for a subscription, and engage them enough to spend more money on microtransactions? The current plan has a precedent, and is a good easing into the space, giving gamers what Blizzard already knows they want (in-game transactions), but not alienating the hardcore fan base. It remains to be seen, however, whether they’ll clinch the transition and remain relevant to a new generation of gamers.”

One big note about SuperData Research’s report: using September 2012 and its $204 million in revenue as the starting point for a comparison completely skews and greatly exaggerates the results. Why? World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria launched in September 2012 and sold 2.7 million copies… in a single day. And yes, SuperData takes those sales into account. Hence the Cherry Picked headline — these guys completely cherry picked their data.

No, the end is not nigh for WoW, not with a monthly subscriber base that’s still the envy of the MMORPG world, but it is absolutely in the midst of its long and steady decline. It’s just not as sharp a decline as this report would suggest.

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1 Comment on Cherry Picked: WoW Revenue Fell 54 Percent in 7 Months


On September 13, 2013 at 10:54 am

That article as a whole really irritates the crap out of me. The entire situation is thoroughly misrepresented (they don’t even bother, whatsoever, to mention the expansion launching) as the biggest drop came in the two months following the release of the expansion (as fewer and fewer people bought it…because they already had it). That’s bad enough…

But the juxtaposition of the revenue graph is super irritating. Note that the blue bars represent about 1/10th of the amount of the orange line…but for April, the blue bar is twice the height.

Really, really and truly shoddy journalism and misrepresentation of the situation. Don’t get me wrong, I think WoW is probably declining but that report is just not grounded in any factual analysis of the situation and is essentially tabloid journalism at it’s finest.