World of Warcraft Numbers Down Again

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World of Warcraft Numbers Down Again

world of warcraft patch 5.3 2

World of Warcraft is still the king, but its kingdom continues to shrink.

Activision announced this morning that it plans to buy back roughly 429 million shares from parent company Vivendi at a cost of over $5.8 billion, a pretty big bit of news for the biggest videogame publisher on the planet. Crowded in near the bottom of the email making that news public was a note relevant to the biggest subscription-based MMO on the planet: World of Warcraft finished the second quarter of 2013 with 7.7 million subscribers, down from 8.3 million at the end of March.

It's still a huge number but it's nonetheless a dramatic decline from its peak of 12 million back in 2010. It's also not necessarily a surprise: When Activision Blizzard announced the first-quarter subscriber numbers in May, CEO Bobby Kotick said further declines were likely and that "we expect to have fewer subscribers in a year than we do today."

The number of World of Warcraft subscribers has been declining for the past few years but Kotick committed to slowing or stopping the slide, saying Activision Blizzard "will continue to commit substantial resources to World of Warcraft." The company took a big step in that direction earlier this month when it confirmed the forthcoming addition of microtransactions.

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Na na, na na na na, hey, hey, hey, good bye!

I'm glad this market encircling monster is slowly going the way of the dinosaurs. This makes room for more innovative, and fun, games to sweep and pick up a reasonable audience to stay in operation with. It expands the market and makes sure there's far less clones of a dying game (and yes, losing millions of customers over 2 years is dying).

P.S. GW2 is ever expanding. Maybe it's concept of content-updates every 2 weeks, and a real evolving story (instead of a freakin' dungeon every 2 months) is the answer to LIVING WORLD that MMO's were supposed to be all about. I can see people playing WoW and paying $15 a month to get content updates every 2-3 months, while looking over the fence to see the green grass with GW2 having cost nothing more than the box and free content every 2 weeks. No wonder those people are saying "WTF are we playing this game paying $15 a month for...where's our updates?!"

Yes! fucking die you monster!

Seriously though, it's no wonder why people are quitting, it's fucking boring playing the same game for years (especially if it isn't PvP), especially something as, well, static, as WoW. When the only reason you're playing is either because it's a way to hang out with your friends or because you like to see your numbers to up (I've never ever seen another reason than those two to play WoW for a long period of time and then keep playing), there's no fucking wonder why people grow bored with it.

WoW is basically a dying giant, and I think it'll take the entire MMORPG (or atleast the way they're designed now) with it down into the abyss.

Microtransactions on Asian servers. Look up the Asian subscription model for World of Warcraft, it is almost free-to-play already and much different from the monthly payments on Western Servers.

Hey I love GW2 a lot as well but I won't necessarily be yelling "WoW-killer" or anything yet.

I've always said WoW is so big the only thing that'll kill it is itself... and while it's nowhere near dead, declining to almost half its peak in 3 years is no small thing. sure, the fact that many MMOs have been going F2P has helped, and the fact there's so many other options, but I think the main reason of the decline is just... people being tired of it. The game is old, people have been playing it for, what, a decade? No matter how much you like a game there's a point where you've just had enough.

You're good WoW. But nobody is ten-years good. Not to that degree.

Evercrack waits to say hi.

SecretNegative:
Yes! fucking die you monster!

Well that made me laugh more then it should have.

OT. It is kinda sad seeing a game that I loved playing for such a long time dying. But then I realize that while this is sad, it's also a good thing, because it finally means that mmo market can grow and be much better it has been the last 8-10 years now.

Competition between multiple giants of the mmo market can finally happen soon, instead of this giant titan that no one has been able to figure out how to deal with. The only question though, will we happy about the offer those giants will give us? Here's hoping that at least one giant wont be trying to screw us up and instead will give us the wonderful experience that mmos can give us.

Do the subscribers die with their MMO?

Cross-realm zones, ridiculous amounts of rep grinding, taking away regular dungeon queues for level 90s, removing the ability to trade Valor for Justice Points, I can keep going. I was leveling a Warrior this month with Mining and Blacksmithing. Mining is easy to level, but when I got to Mithril I needed well over 500 bars just to get from 175-250. FIVE HUNDRED. Then I needed at least the same amount in Thorium just to go from 250-295, yet getting any was an exercise in futility by trying to compete with 90s and their flying mounts and it's just not possible.

Whoever's making the decisions now is an idiot.

I don't think anyone is surprised that Wow is due to die eventually.

It just means that the MMO market will either be more spread out in future or another will take its' place. The problem with MMOs is that they require a subscription though, which generally means people only play just the 1. Whereas, with games like COD and BF, people could play both as the only fee is the initial buying fee (I know they have other content too, but it's not required to play)

The original Starcraft was 10 years good, more in fact. SC1 enjoyed the longes continuous
print run in video game history.

WoW's numbers dropping isn't surprising, as was previously said it's an old game. I have a lot of friends who just play for the social aspects, and old or not it's the most polished product out there and the system requirements are negligible. I personally don't play it currently, Since Lich King I've been reupping my account a couple months before an expansion hits, powering through to see the content then cancelling a few months after the expansion. I'm actually ok with doing that given the quality of the product.

I'd really like to see a breakdown of subscriber numbers for returning players around the expansion times, I'm pretty sure there are a lot of people who do the same thing I do.

Inb4 all the "Wow is dead" comm........

Well shit, you guys work fast don't you?

frobalt:
The problem with MMOs is that they require a subscription though, which generally means people only play just the 1. Whereas, with games like COD and BF, people could play both as the only fee is the initial buying fee (I know they have other content too, but it's not required to play)

With the rise of the free-to-play scene that's just not true anymore. Even healthy MMOs have made the transition and gotten greater success. In fact the only major MMOs I can think of that still mandate a sub to play are WoW and EVE. Maybe The Secret World but I can't remember if that went F2P.

The sun shines
Birds sing
And WoW loses subs due to changes in preference of Western gamers making it up in the Eastern market.

These are constant.

MCerberus:
The sun shines
Birds sing

And brudda, I hurt people!

MCerberus:

And WoW loses subs due to changes in preference of Western gamers making it up in the Eastern market.

These are constant.

Oh. ne'er mind then.

Why am I not surprised to see WoW hate on the Escapist?

It's probably because every time news about the game comes out you get a bunch of people whining about how it's WoW's fault that every other company is pathetic and chooses not to make anything new or because, shockingly, a nine year old game has gotten a bit boring to play.

As has been said before, WoW, you are good. Have been amazing. But no-one should be dominating the market for an entire decade. That said, I do hope you are the most played MMO come your ten year anniversary. Would be a fitting end.

I don't think it's pandaria alone killing the sub numbers, I think it's the massive increase in quality of F2P games and the success of GW2 among other things.

I've personally not jumped back into the grind because of time constraints and I honestly miss those times. But all must pass so that the future can... well happen.

Here's to the re-announcement of Titan in another three fucking years.

Not really that big of a deal. WoW subscriptions aren't the "cash cow" that everyone expects. A financial analysis I did of them back in 2010-11 showed that their subscription fees only accounted for about 10-15% of their total income (not profit, income). The majority of their income was "new product sales". They actually make more money on investments than their WoW player base.

Update: Just pulled their Financial Statements from Q1 FY13. Net revenues are as follows:

Product Sales: $990MM
Subs, Lic, & Other Rev: $334MM
Invest Income: $2MM

So, yeah, things have shifted for them. Subscriptions and licensing are now 25% of their total net revenues and investments are negligible (which makes sense, since companies have been dumping their outside investments for the past couple years).

MinionJoe:
Not really that big of a deal. WoW subscriptions aren't the "cash cow" that everyone expects. A financial analysis I did of them back in 2010-11 showed that their subscription fees only accounted for about 10-15% of their total income (not profit, income). The majority of their income was "new product sales". They actually make more money on investments than their WoW player base.

Wasn't 2010 the year Starcraft 2 and Cataclysm came out? Because that would probably explain why new sales outdid the subscriptions.

Still awesome, still the biggest, still the best.

image

With the speed that it is declining, we could start seeing WoW Server closures in a year or two, and the game reaching development unsustainability (not enough subscribers to warrant placing developers on patches) within 4-6 years, and server unsustainability (not enough income to warrant keeping the servers up) within 7-10 years.

I hope Blizz finishes Titan quickly, and its a smash hit like WoW Original, because, otherwise, we could see the Blizzard side of Activision/Blizzard tanking very quickly. Call of Duty can only sustain the revenue of the publishing giant for so long.

Seventh Actuality:
Still awesome, still the biggest, still the best.

I think "most accessible" is a more apt descriptor than "best," and "awesome" is subjective term.

image

Imper1um:
With the speed that it is declining, we could start seeing WoW Server closures in a year or two, and the game reaching development unsustainability (not enough subscribers to warrant placing developers on patches) within 4-6 years, and server unsustainability (not enough income to warrant keeping the servers up) within 7-10 years.

I hope Blizz finishes Titan quickly, and its a smash hit like WoW Original, because, otherwise, we could see the Blizzard side of Activision/Blizzard tanking very quickly. Call of Duty can only sustain the revenue of the publishing giant for so long.

CROSS-REALM SERVERS. They are already closing servers down without having to migrate people or get rid of server names. In the new patch, certain battlegroups (cluster of servers) are merging so they all run a-kin to one server. They can keep on doing this without saying once they are closing a server down and keeping populations on servers stable.

WoW's numbers are down...again?

http://mlkshk.com/r/28CZ

Seriously, the game's old, it doesn't try to make any improvements unless it must to stay competitive, its only real staying power now is either a) people who still find its story interesting, b) people who've sunk too much time and effort into it to just drop it or c) people who want to get in on the game that really started MMOs as a viable genre. But the fact the game's lost a chunk of customers really isn't all that huge anymore, since it's happened in the past, and more than once, in fact. Now when it gets below the number of players it had during the core game's initial release, THAT will be something of note.

Oh, and just something to note; they say that microtransactions are coming to the game...but do they say subscriptions are LEAVING? Personally I don't see that in the announcement, so it makes me wonder if they're going to still require your $15 a month...and then try to get you to buy additional in-game items with MORE real money.

"Our numbers are dropping! Quick, we must make people want to play our game by making them pay more!"
Brilliant move. I already can't wait to play the game hearing this.

7.7 million subscribers at $15 a month each......is still almost 120 million a month, or well over a billion a year.

Not sure how they only got $334 million from subs in 2010 when their numbers were much greater then that. Are they counting free trials accounts as subs or something?

Also...what are they investing as far as resources into this game each year? It seems like it's just plain out a cash cow...with more profit then most movies, games etc make each year without them having to do any work at all.

The shear insane amount of money WoW has made over the years, both from subs and from selling expansions and the base game.......it's mind boggling. As far as games go, I can't think of any game that has been more profitable over all. Even at the rate it's losing subs..it's probably going to be years before other games even start to catch up with it's current profits...let alone ever come close to encroaching on it's over all total.

I'm actually surprised there is no word of another expansion to keep players interested right now. How long can people care about rescuing panda's in the same setting anyways?

LifeCharacter:
Why am I not surprised to see WoW hate on the Escapist?

It's probably because every time news about the game comes out you get a bunch of people whining about how it's WoW's fault that every other company is pathetic and chooses not to make anything new or because, shockingly, a nine year old game has gotten a bit boring to play.

While to be fair it kind of is WoW's fault, it's not necessarily that every other company is pathetic but rather they need investors money to build these expensive games and investors want a safe bet... so WoW clone v101 it is.

But when I stop and think about it I find it odd how much of a disconnect I have with WoW and the MMORPG scene in general when I've been playing and enjoying RPG's of all variety for 20+ years. Well I liked Guild Wars 1 and would probably like 2 but it's on the accursed back log.

Highest Earning publisher. The amount of titles they actually bring is minuscule with basically all their bank riding on COD's back. It's a gigantic franchise sure, but I wouldn't call a publisher that released 4 tie in games and 1 shooter per year a big publisher.

I'm flabbergasted to see people are still playing it. The game is a shadow of its former self.

And I'm not saying that with rose-tinted goggles on either. Let's just say there are ways of still experiencing the game as it was at its best (The Burning Crusade).

SecretNegative:
Yes! fucking die you monster!

And a year from now, a new, zombie themed expansion, with the motto "The drop in subscriptions last year was merely a setback!" appears. Calling it now.

Ah, how the mighty have fallen. You know, there was a time when WoW was really good and fun. As much as I'm glad it seems to be on its last legs, it's also a bit sad to see it go that way. A bit of nostalgia I suppose.

What goes up must come down.

They can count me among the number that unsubbed since the last count. Maybe I'll go back when it inevitably goes F2P.

People suggesting that WoW is going to "die" anytime soon are laughably ignorant. It will keep rolling on for at least another decade, I expect. Don't forget that people are still playing Everquest and other ancient MMOs.

thetoddo:
The original Starcraft was 10 years good, more in fact. SC1 enjoyed the longes continuous
print run in video game history.

WoW's numbers dropping isn't surprising, as was previously said it's an old game. I have a lot of friends who just play for the social aspects, and old or not it's the most polished product out there and the system requirements are negligible. I personally don't play it currently, Since Lich King I've been reupping my account a couple months before an expansion hits, powering through to see the content then cancelling a few months after the expansion. I'm actually ok with doing that given the quality of the product.

I'd really like to see a breakdown of subscriber numbers for returning players around the expansion times, I'm pretty sure there are a lot of people who do the same thing I do.

Blizzard expects their numbers to drop due to people leaving for a bit and returning. The problem is that the numbers are continuously dropping. That means that, not only are new players not playing or sticking with the game, but old players aren't returning in the numbers they use to. Also, the game can't run on veteran players alone. Without new players to help it grow, the game will decline. Right now, it looks like that's exactly what's happening.

wulfy42:
7.7 million subscribers at $15 a month each......is still almost 120 million a month, or well over a billion a year.

Not sure how they only got $334 million from subs in 2010 when their numbers were much greater then that. Are they counting free trials accounts as subs or something?

The headline 7.7m figure includes players in Asian regions, regions which have a different business model that last time I checked was essentially pay2play rather than pay-monthly. Therefore if they log in just once a month they're still counted as a subscriber, even though their gross monetary worth as a player was extremely low.

$334m Net revenue from subs most likely also accounts for sales tax and other processing costs, whilst Products would also include microtransactions (which would only be made by a subscriber of course). So you're probably looking at between 2 and 4 million monthly subscribers in the US & EU, and 7.7m total active player accounts. Any hit to those number would significantly impact microtransaction numbers, and probably overall revenue in years where no new franchise title or expansion is release.

Falling subscriber numbers is no joke, as evidenced by the new ways Blizzard are trying to squeeze money out of an every-dwindling player base. Not grounds to panic, but merely to be wary and keep an eye on potential micro-transaction models being implemented whilst still charging a monthly fee.

Microtransactions aren't going to do crap to help the game. That isn't why people are quitting and it isn't going to do that much to help.

Releasing decent updates would help. But they don't seem too interested in doing that any more.

WoW's biggest mistake was abandoning it's own World. Think about it. More griffon ride stops, mounts at sooner levels. Heck there is literally no need to set foot out of orgrim or storm once you hit level 15 you just cue up for instances and Bgs. It's a game that literally tells you, 90% of it's content doesn't matter. Nothing you do has any real impact on the game world, so what's the point, it's basically like playing TF2. The system has also reached the point where everything is so simple and easy. I could almost swear Wizard 101 has a deeper mechanics than WoW at this point. I mean I actually miss the old days when hunters actually required ammo... that was a chance to add some depth and nuance to the mechanics but nope.

It's not that I don't like wow. seriously if a BC server opened up I'd jump right on that. Heck even a Wrath Server. I miss actually getting lost, I miss having to worry about things like ammo. WoW made themselves easy and more accesssible and that basically meant that they made themselves forgettable. They've become the equivalent of a big Mac.

There's also the fact that the environment has changed. Was a time when $10 a month was reasonable because there weren't that many alternatives ... Then Steam Sales, GoG and Gog Sales became a thing. In short, the people who were playing 5 years ago have a different life now, , likely a job, a new family, a car payment. Those that are younger have far more options I mean you don't Need an MMO for an epic sprawling fantasy world... you have Skyrim for that now. Best of all with Skyrim you don't have to deal with a bunch of asswipes griping at you for not being optimally spec'ed.

WoW has literally become the worst kind of sandbox, the sandbox where you have to play how someone else says you should play and until WoW starts trying to add some actual depth to their game play and some substance back to their world then those number will continue to drop at an ever quickening rate... especially once the gold farmers realize there's hardly anyone left to buy the gold :p

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