It's becoming increasingly obvious that Mike Morhaime has sold his soul to the Devil: The Blizzard CEO announced yesterday that gamers who left World of Warcraft for the greener pastures of Age of Conan or Warhammer Online are already streaming back in droves.
Despite its age, despite the much-ballyhooed launch of competing MMOGs Age of Conan and Warhammer Online, despite a worldwide economic meltdown of epic proportions, Blizzard's venerable MMOG keeps marching along, seemingly oblivious to it all. The developer announced at the end of October that the game had reached 11 million subscribers, and that number will likely only increase after the launch of the game's second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, just one week from today. Perhaps even more significantly, the launch of the two most likely candidates for "WoW-killer" appeared to have little lasting impact on the game's momentum.
"Even though the quarter was book-ended by competitors in the MMO space, the World of Warcraft subscriber base continued to grow," Morhaime said during Activision's quarterly earnings call. "Age of Conan launched toward the end of the June quarter, and Warhammer Online came out in mid-September. To date, 68% of the players who listed Age of Conan as their reason for cancellation and 46% of the players who listed Warhammer as their reason for cancellation have reactivated their subscriptions to World of Warcraft."
"World of Warcraft also managed to grow its subscribership, despite the Olympics and the summer vacation period," he added. "At the end of the quarter, World of Warcraft had 1.5 million more subscribers than during the same time last year."
Morhaime's numbers support similar comments made by Blizzard COO Paul Sams, who said in October that "well over half" of the people who cited Warhammer Online as their reason for leaving World of Warcraft had already returned to the game. In light of all this, only one question remains unanswered: How is Bobby Kotick going to feel when he finds out Morhaime signed a secret contract with Peter Moore?