More people now play World of Warcraft than live in the Chinese capital of Beijing.
The population numbers of World of Warcraft have pretty much leveled off after spectacular growth in 2005. As you can tell from our handy-dandy timeline chronicling every event in the game's history, the population in WoW grew exponentially from 1.5 million in March 2005 to over 4.5 million in December and eventually 6 million in March 2006. The population growth of WoW slowed over the next few years and eventually topped off at 11.5 million after the release of the third expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, in late 2008. But now that expansion has finally been launched in China, and Blizzard is reporting that World of Warcraft has finally capped the 12 million mark.
"The support and enthusiasm that gamers across the world continue to show for World of Warcraft reaffirms our belief that it offers one of the best entertainment values available today," said Blizzard head Mike Morhaime. "We are as committed as ever to taking the game to new heights, and we look forward to demonstrating that with Cataclysm in December."
If that's not great marketing copy, I don't know what is.
With many current and ex-WoW players excited for the third expansion Cataclysm to drop on December 7th, it's possible that Blizzard will see another jump in subscribers. For many, Cataclysm is a reboot of the old world that launched back in November 2004. I remember the grandeur of those old zones, but Blizzard is revamping many antiquated questlines and retelling the stories of a few races, including the new Worgen and Goblins.
Check back soon for more coverage from Cataclysm beta as we all prepare for it to drop.