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Posts with tag subscribers

World of Warcraft back up to 7.4 million subscribers

Though Activision Blizzard's quarterly earnings call isn't for another month, Blizzard has released their latest subscriber numbers a little early. As of October 14, World of Warcraft sits at 7.4 million subscribers, up 600,000 from their previously reported 6.8 million.

Warlords of Draenor's impending release is having an effect -- players are finding a renewed interest in the game. More than ever, it's clear that the long wait between content releases is Warcraft's worst enemy. If you build it, they'll come. But in the meantime, they'll have fun somewhere else.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Hearthstone hits 20 million registered players

Hearthstone header
Blizzard hit a milestone recently with the free-to-play digital card game Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft breaking 20 million registered players. For scale, that's double the number of players WoW had at its peak during Wrath of the Lich King in 2010. The most amazing thing about that is Hearthstone has yet to release on all intended platforms: Android tablet, Android phone, and iOS phone versions are still forthcoming.

All in all, the registration numbers indicate that there is very widespread interest in Hearthstone indeed, and for good reason. It's a ton of fun to play!

Filed under: News items, Hearthstone Insider

World of Warcraft down to 6.8 million subscribers

According to today's Activision Blizzard earnings call, World of Warcraft is down to 6.8 million subscribers. That's a loss of 800,000 subscribers since the previous quarter. Once more, the losses are said to have occurred primarily in the Eastern market.

We think it's safe to say a year without any new content carries the bulk of the blame for these losses. Historically, since WoW's subscriber peak in 2011, content droughts tend to see the largest drop in subscribers. It's also safe to say some of the losses will return with the release of Warlords of Draenor, though it's unlikely that all lost subscribers will be recovered -- and it remains to be seen how long recovered subscriptions will hang around.

Filed under: News items

World of Warcraft down to 7.6 million subscribers

Today's Activision Blizzard investor call, covering the first quarter of 2014, revealed that World of Warcraft stands at 7.6 million subscribers. That's a 200,000 subscriber drop as of the most recent call, which set subscribers at 7.8 million.

All things considered, that seems to be a mild drop for the state of the game -- players collectively waiting for Warlords of Draenor without so much as an ETA.

Filed under: News items

Activision earnings call offers more insight on WoW subscriber losses

In addition to the news that Titan may not be subscription-based, today's Activision investor call also shed some light on WoW's most recent round of subscriber losses. Blizzard says that the subscriber loss was more or less evenly split between Eastern and Western markets, which is to say that they've lost subscribers in North America, Europe, and Asia. However, patch 5.2 and 5.3 both had a positive impact on subscriber numbers and Blizzard is working on making returning to the game easier for players who have left.

While there's been a lot of panic over the subscriber losses, Blizzard isn't throwing in the towel yet: in this call they assured everyone that they're committed to the World of Warcraft playerbase (that's us!) in spite of the subscriber downturn and other projects like Titan on the horizon.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Community Blog Topic: What's wrong with WoW?

Elf hands
We've talked a lot recently about what's right with WoW. Whether it's the metacommunity, making with the stabby, lore, friends, etc., World of Warcraft keeps us coming back for more. But at the same time, 1.3 million people have left the game since February of this year. WoW still has the most active accounts over all other MMOs at 8.3 million, but people are leaving. Why do you think that is?

Many people complain about the dailies. There are so many and if you are a completionist, your daily to-do list is overwhelming. Others complain about the people. The perceived preponderance of funsuckers in Azeroth can make you not want to log back in, particularly after an unpleasant experience.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Blizzard's Frank Pearce predicts renewed subscriber growth with Cataclysm, China

If you've been following World of Warcraft's published subscriber numbers for a while now, you know that we haven't seen a rise in WoW subscribers since late 2008. Blizzard's been holding steady on a figure of 11.5 million subscribers. But, according to Frank Pearce, Blizzard's Executive Vice President of Product Development, that's going to change.

When asked if by VG247's Adam Hartley if he thought WoW's subscribers had permanently peaked, Pearce had this to say:
"I mean, you can look at that number and if you look at some of the details around it ... In China, for example, we haven't even launched Wrath of the Lich King yet, and that expansion is already 18-plus months old. They're still playing The Burning Crusade there, because we're waiting for approval for Wrath from the appropriate agencies. And once we get that approval and launch Wrath in China then I think we will see growth."
Pearce also noted that "win-back" of subscribers who had left the game after previous expansions is particularly high for WoW, and that subscriber counts should grow when Cataclysm is released.
"Hopefully we will get some people back from Cataclysm as well. I don't think 11.5 million is a peak, necessarily, but there are certain things that we need to do and need to do well in order to see it go further."
Like refining the 1-60 game, an area many players have never gotten past, no doubt. You can read the full interview with Frank Pearce at VG247.

[via Massively]

Filed under: Blizzard

Jeff Kaplan looks back at WoW's launch

The 5th anniversary press continues -- this time it's a site called Techland, where our friend Tracey John (who also writes for Massively) interviews Jeff Kaplan about his reflections on the last five years of the game. It's surprising to hear that early on, Blizzard wasn't so sure of their success. Despite the fact that even before WoW, they had made some of the most classic PC games of all time, they weren't sure that going the subscription route was a good idea. But one of the companies' founders stood up and gave a pep talk, and promised a whole million subscribers, apparently. Of course, they'd go on to make many times that, but that was good enough to get the team going again.

Kaplan also says that he is a little bummed that Blizzard didn't scale back raiding earlier -- 40-man raids were a little unwieldy, he admits now, and smaller raids would have meant more content in the vanilla days. But he does say that since the game has been updated so much, most of the stuff they wish they'd done different has actually been done differently. And in the future, he says that better technology will play a big role -- bigger instance capacity, and things like cross-server instances and other innovations. The next five years, he seems to hint, should be just as interesting as the first.

[via HolyPaladin]

Filed under: Patches, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Raiding

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

Blizzard moves from #47 to #1 in studio rankings

According to a recent list by Develop magazine, Blizzard has dethroned Nintendo to become the most bankable game studio in the world. I'm surprised they weren't there already, but I guess it's just this side of possible that Nintendo is hard to budge. Develop's top 100 is compiled by their editorial team and accounts for total sales, reputation within the industry, and a variety of other criteria. When all was said and done, the editors wrote, Warcraft "continues to do the sort of numbers previously reserved for crime syndicates and smaller members of the United Nations."

Nicely put, but what I find most bizarre about the list is that Blizzard jumped from #47 to #1 within the space of a year (you'll find Blizzard's 2008 listing on page 82 of a highly annoying-to-navigate Issuu archive). While part of that's due to the merge with Activision, Develop claims that Wrath of the Lich King being the fastest-selling PC game in history was the greatest contributing factor. Hang on. WoW was doing just fine even before Wrath hit, so how did Blizzard manage to get itself ranked behind do-little studios with sales of around $1-2 million per game on the 2008 list?

Read more →

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Activision conference call: WoW still at 11.5 million subscribers

The OC Register has a great breakdown of what Activision said on their earnings conference call today. Perhaps the biggest WoW-related stat to come out of the call is that the number of subscribers to the game has apparently leveled off: they're holding steady at 11.5 million. Which is nothing to cough at, but it's what we were told four months ago, and if, as Ghostcrawler claimed, the numbers are still going up, then they're going up very, very slowly. Morhaime says that numbers are growing everywhere, but that China will be a main focus of growth this year as Wrath of the Lich King releases there soon.

In non-WoW Blizzard news, the Starcraft 2 beta will start this summer and will be the "final" phase of development for that game. The new Battle.net interface will be tested then as well, so keep an eye out for that. And Blizzard expects big things there in China also -- NetEase, the company that will now be handling Wrath's launch, is already set up to run both Diablo III and Starcraft 2 out there, so it'll all be under one umbrella.

In short, there's no really bad news from Blizzard, but no really great news either -- the best news to come out of the call is that even in the slow economy lately, Blizzard is holding steady. Not a bad thing at all, but we probably won't see any spikes in player interest in Blizzard or WoW until they announce what's next on the content plate, whether that be at BlizzCon or before.

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

WoW subscriber numbers still increasing, multi-boxers trivial

There has been a long thread about WoW and the philosophical changes and approaches over the past four years, and in particular to some of the larger design decisions made recently (dual specs). In it Ghostcrawler makes an offhand remark about WoW's subscriber numbers:

"Wrath of the Lich King is still selling very well and our subscribers are increasing."

Now I want to be clear that this was made off-hand and is not from an official earnings statement. But that doesn't discount it from being full of truthiness; and nonetheless, this is rather significant in that it's been a while since we last heard any indication of current subscriber numbers. To some this news won't be very surprising, given that Wrath of the Lich King has been a huge hit. But others might raise an eyebrow that after five months of Wrath things are still up-ticking.

He also mentions the ever hot topic of multi-boxers:

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items

Developer resolution for 2009: Beat Warcraft

Our friends at GameDaily have a nice set of resolutions for game developers next year, and it's definitely worth a read if you're interested in seeing where they think the game industry might improve in 2009. But number three is the most interesting one for us: they suggest that game developers (and MMO devs in specific, we'd imagine) should make this the year that something else beats World of Warcraft.

It seems much more unlikely than last year: last year, we were looking down the barrel of Age of Conan and Warhammer Online, and wondering if either one of those might cause a road bump in WoW's traffic. Age of Conan was called the steak to our game's McDonald's, but in the end, WoW players didn't do much more than give it a cursory glance. And while Warhammer seemed like a good contender to the throne, it hasn't come close to taking a bite out of Azeroth. This year, it doesn't even seem like there will be any MMO contenders. GameDaily cites Bioware's Star Wars MMO, but that's not coming out in 2009, and while The Agency and DC Universe Online might be getting close to finished, it's unlikely we'll see them on the shelves this year either.

This might be a year of recuperation, for both Blizzard and their competitors. Lord of the Rings Online is doing well, so their big task is just to keep the content moving, and unlike last year, Blizzard has no real impetus this year to really push their playerbase to stick with the game. As with everything, we'll have to see what happens, but I'd expect a much more subdued year this go-around for the MMO market. When the MMOs in progress now come to fruition in 2010, then things will likely get more interesting.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Making money

World of Warcraft hits 11 million subscribers worldwide


Even in the middle of zombies, nerfs, and Death Knights, World of Warcraft has continued to grow. Blizzard announced today that World of Warcraft has achieved 11 million subscribers. To help with perspective, that's as many people as had been employed by the construction industry last year, or just slightly under the population of Greece.

When WoW hit 10 million back in January, Blizzard acknowledged how big the holiday season had been for them. Now consider that we're going into a new holiday season with a brand new expansion on the way. Even if other games are looking to get a piece of the action, we should expect Blizzard to keep steamrolling with their great success. Word of mouth from the recent zombie event might be exciting older players to return, and programs like Recruit-a-Friend will keep growing their active base.

We should expect to see the 12 million landmark sometime in 2009. WoW had hit 9 million subscribers back in July of 2007. Like we said, 10 million subscribers was reached in January of 2008. It took a little longer to grow from 10 to 11 than it did to get from 9 to 10, but if they keep up this rate, we should see the 12 million announcement around February or March.

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

EA: You don't need $1 billion to compete with WoW


You just need $100 million to beat it. No, we're kidding -- after Activizzard founder Bobby Kotick's presumptuous statement a few months ago that any game company would need at least half a billion dollars to challenge World of Warcraft, EA/Mythic's Mark Jacobs has responded in kind on the eve of their big Warhammer Online release, telling MTV Multiplayer that the number is closer to around $100 million. And that they spent less than that on their big MMO.

We'll be realistic here: we don't think anyone believes, including EA, that WoW's numbers are attainable for another MMO coming out this year -- even Blizzard believes that eventually WoW will go by the wayside, but as Jacobs says, anyone releasing a game today isn't just competing with WoW, they're competing with WoW and Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. And no matter how long your development cycle or how big your budget, you can't compete with three years of people working around the clock to make the game better for live players.

But EA does want to be successful, and Jacobs says success for him would mean upwards of half a million players. Six months from now, he says, if Warhammer is folding servers and not adding them, the writing is on the wall. There's no reason to think that will be the case, of course -- Warhammer looks like a great game led by one of the biggest publishers in the world supporting one of the best MMO developers, and it's about as close to guaranteed a success gets in the MMO space. But even Mythic would say WoW stands on its own -- while WoW is running, it's highly unlikely we'll see any MMO come anywhere near its 10 million total subscribers.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Economy, Expansions, The Burning Crusade, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

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