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NPD: World of Warcraft has sold 8.6 million boxes at retail

Gamasutra has received an interesting stat from the good folks at NPD: after hearing that The Sims 3 sold over 800,000 copies in its first month, they were curious to see what kind of unit sales our own World of Warcraft has experienced. And the numbers are pretty big: among the original game and all of the expansion packs since the vanilla release over four years ago, NPD says 8.6 million boxes of WoW have been sold in the US. That's a little misleading if you're comparing it to actual subscription numbers: remember that this is over three different releases (so the actual number of all-time players, not current players, is probably 1/3 of that), and it includes different collectors' editions of each of the three game editions. So there are nowhere near 8.6 million US players of WoW -- that's just how many times players have come through the retail line with the various releases.

What that is, however, is a lot of money. Gamasutra estimates that at an average of $30 for each unit sold (the vanilla game currently retails at $20, but the expansions all sell at $40, and of course the original game was more expensive once upon a time), that's $258 million in income for Blizzard. In short, Blizzard's making a mint at the retail counter, even before they sign anyone up for subscriptions.

Then again, if you look at their own costs, those aren't insubstantial, either -- Activision's Bobby Kotick claimed that anyone starting up an MMO to compete with WoW would have to throw at least half a billion dollars into the mix just to get started, so we can presume Blizzard has spent at least $500 million on their staff, development, and hardware. So it's not like they're taking it all to the bank, though we can at least presume they're sitting firmly in the black.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath of the Lich King falls off the top sales spot (for now)


It only took four months, but a new title has knocked Wrath of the Lich King off the top of the PC sales charts, according to industry trackers NPD. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II, the much-awaited RTS title featuring that other fantasy universe with "war" in the title, has taken the top spot, knocking Wrath down to number two (and the original version of WoW and the Battle Chest hold their spots around six and seven).

We suppose it had to happen at some point -- with PTR interest kicking in this past week, and the game having sold so many copies already, there had to be a point where something else jumped up above Wrath. But don't count the award winning expansion out of the number one spot yet. While Dawn of War II is getting reviewed very favorably, this little bump is likely due to an audience of fans who wanted to get the sequel on day one. Once first-week sales for that game level off, it's entirely likely that we'll see WotLK back up on top. Not that Blizzard needs any more money, of course. But it is good to be the (Lich) King.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Expansions, Making money

Wrath tops the PC sales charts for November

Surprised? You probably shouldn't be -- NPD has released the top sales list for November, and our favorite game is sitting right on top. In fact, the most interesting thing about the list is what's not on it: games. Wrath is at number one, followed up by such great titles like Office 2007 and Trend Micro Anti-virus. The collector's edition of Wrath comes in at number four, and after that it's all utilities except Call of Duty: World at War at number six and Spore at number 10.

That's a sad month for PC gaming, especially during a time when sales are supposed to be at their highest. Blizzard's leading the charge (and they're not leaving PC anytime soon), but they seem to be pretty much the only PC studio able to bring it home this year.

Videogame sales in general are doing just great: even in a bad economy, console companies -- both developers and retailers -- are seeing nice growth. But those saying PC gaming is dead will only have to point to November's sales for proof. Maybe in 2009 we can get a couple more titles quality enough to give World of Warcraft a run for its money.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

Four of the top ten PC games are World of Warcraft

Normally, we don't concern ourselves with sales charts too much -- we really only cover the one game, so comparing it to others really isn't our thing. Unless it's the only game in town, which, according to this month's NPD PC game software sales charts, posted by WorldofWar.net, it pretty much is. Out of the top ten PC games, Blizzard is responsible for a full half, and of those five, four are World of Warcraft related.

1. WoW: Battle Chest
2. The Sims 2 Double Deluxe
3. World Of Warcraft
4. Nancy Drew: The Phantom Of Venice
5. Spore Creature Creator
6. Diablo Battle Chest
7. Warcraft III Battle Chest
8. WoW: Burning Crusade
9. The Sims 2 Ikea Home Stuff
10. Call of Duty 4


Just wild. Diablo's Battle Chest is undoubtedly there because of the Diablo III announcement, but the rest is all World of Warcraft -- people are picking up the game, its expansion, the Battle Chest (which combines both), and even the predecessor Warcraft III (in which the Wrath backstory features prominently) in droves.

PC gaming isn't dead at all. But there's no question that of the struts keeping it standing, Blizzard is definitely one of the strongest.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Blizzard, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

Activision Blizzard leads the gaming industry

Within the last week, articles on a couple different websites has given us a little look at how much of a juggernaut Activision Blizzard really is on the gaming front.

The first comes from VentureBeat. Not directly about Activision Blizzard, this article talks a little about the current state of PC gaming. VentureBeat mentions that The NPD Group, a market researching group, has said that online gaming subscriptions generate around $1 billion per year with World of Warcraft leading the pack. I wouldn't use this as proof of PC gaming still going strong as VentureBeat does, but rather that the PC gaming community has shifted toward subscription based multiplayer experiences with consoles taking over single player experiences, for the most part. You can probably thank piracy for that. That bit is a topic for another time, though.

Our other bit comes from Gaming Today on Filefront. This one is quite directly about Activision Blizzard, mentioning that they've become the number one game publisher around with a net earning of over $2.9 billion. That's a lot of money! Again according to The NPD Group, Activision dominated both the console and handheld markets. Between the Guitar Hero series still going strong and the upcoming release of Wrath of the Lich King, it won't be much of a surprise to anybody if Activision Blizzard comes out on top again in 2009.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

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