In their latest quarterly earnings report released on August 5th, Activision Blizzard reported that World of Warcraft suffered a loss of approximately 800,000 subscriptions between Q2 and Q3 of this year. The decline comes despite the company exceeding its quarterly earnings expectations by $60 million, something Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick attributed to “strong digital sales” from Blizzard’s other titles, namely Hearthstone and Diablo III: Reaper of Souls.
The drops in subscribers was largely expected, according to Blizzard, citing similar numbers in 2012 when World of Warcraft players saw a large gap in between new game content. Kotick noted high expectations for the next expansion, Warlords of Draenor, which has received more than 1.5 million pre-orders to date. Blizzard will reveal the expansion trailer and release date at Gamescon on Thursday, August 14th.
It’s no secret subscriber numbers have been on a steady decline since they peaked during 2009-2010 at over 12 million paying players. Is Warcraft dying? It’d be odd to think Blizzard would spend an exorbitant amount of resources updating both the game’s coding engine and character models, not to mention make a movie, just to abandon the franchise after the next expansion’s end.
If history’s any indicator, Blizzard will see a sharp jump in subscriptions following the Warlords of Draenor release, only to have them level off during the expansion, and will likely see another drop after the final content of the expansion is exhausted by players. To six million? Five? Who knows. But even a few million paying players is a fiscal opportunity that can’t be ignored.
So yes, World of Warcraft is dying. But it won’t be dead for a long time.
Source: Activision Blizzard