World Of Warcraft: No Growth Since 2008

World Of Warcraft: No Growth Since 2008

When we last checked World of Warcraft subscriber numbers in December of 2008, the game had 11.5 million subscribers. According to Blizzard’s Mike Morhaime, today’s numbers are exactly the same. Has the mighty MMO plateaued?

During Activision’s calendar year 2009 conference call today, Blizzard top dog Mike Morhaime spoke of the stability of the company’s flagship title, World of Warcraft, and he wasn’t kidding. Talking numbers, Morhaime revealed that the game currently had approximately 11.5 million subsribers, “about on par with last time we announced”.

The only problem is, the last time they announced was in December of 2008, following the release of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, which should have caused a spike in numbers. Perhaps it did, but the spike faded without the company saying word one about it. At the time of the previous announcement, I questioned why the company had decided to announce half a million more than the 11 million they announced in September of 2008. Perhaps a decline in new subscriptions was behind the incremental update?

Now mind you, WoW subscriber numbers are culled from all over the world, and with China currently having issues with getting The Burning Crusade expansion reviewed, much less Wrath of the Lich King, a great many players in that region could be backing off until the smoke clears.

Could that account for the stagnant numbers, or are players just growing weary of the game, five years after its explosive release? Either way, we’ll be keeping a close eye on those numbers in the months to come. With Cataclysm refreshing the starting content, perhaps we’ll see a large influx of new and old players, coming to see how the face of Azeroth has changed.


  • Does it matter? 11.5 million people all paying $16 a month is still a huge income. And I do think that China’s bureaucratic furball is what’s keeping the numbers down from their overall high

    • Your not exactly correct there. A massive amount of that 11.5M are in china. They pay only cents an hour, are limited in the number of hours they can play and a portion of that money goes to the chinese distributor.

      It would be interesting to see the growth/decline per region.

    • Exactly. You’re no longer cool walking around in tier 9.5 or 10 gear. Every noob and his dog is covered in it. They’ve dulled it down to make it more accessible for the scrubs, and in turn pushed away a lot of their long term ‘hardcore’ subscribers.

      • i can see you judge your life by a group of random people you will never see or associate with in real life.

        Heres a tip; go out to a pub or a club, and shout from the top of your lungs, im cool because i did kara when it was hard.

        Accomplishments in game do not equate to real life accomplishments, and putting them on a pedestal is hilarious.

        ps: the “Hardcore” is a tiny fraction of the playerbase, the casuals outnumber you vastly.

      • The “hardcore” still don’t get that not everyone has 4 hours 2 nights a week to raid and another 2 nights to farm.

        Just because I’m not an obsessive freak with Asperger’s, doesn’t mean I should miss out on playing with the cool toys.

        Feel free to rage-quit, we “casuals” vastly outnumber you, so I doubt Blizzard would notice much more than a blip.

    • Its an mmo, its not like any of the warcraft games before it.

      it is also full with pop-culture references, out of place/lore humor ect.

    • Peter> It’s a completely different game, more of an RPQ where you just have one character in the warcraft world and work together with other players. If you like the story or design from warcraft 1 and 2 then there is some rewarding stuff to be discovered in WoW. The human starting area is even the lands from the first warcraft game 🙂

    • I dont know what you mean Peter. But I will answer by saying it’s not like any of the previous 3 games. It looks like Warcraft 3 but plays from a 3rd person perspective. You play as one character, don’t control an army, and fight/grind much like you would in any other massive online RPG.

      I personally haven’t played much of the game and saw my friend playing a bit but I can say my experience and what I saw has been incredibly dull from a pure gameplay perspective.

  • I’d find it more interesting to know how many concurrent users they have, I’m guessing it would have dropped a fair bit from 2008

    • Blizzard has a disclaimer where they tell u exactly whats included in their subsrcriber count. But im preety sure that IS the amount of concurrent players. They only count accounts currently active. Not frozen accounts

    • Not really. But i would suggest if possible, grabbing a friend or 2 to level up with. Now u will always find people leveling up, but there arnt many “new” people, so when u see a lvl 5, they ask whats ur main because they have x amount of 80’s already.

      But dont be put off by that either, 11.5m and ur gona get some douchebags, but as long as u dont act like a douche yourself, most people find it nice to teach a newcomer, since its something different lol.

      I play wow on and off, it gets boring now for me. But its def worth the free trial just to check it out. It is the best mmo out there, hands down.

  • I’ve just come back to the game after over a year not playing it. After I got my mount the game became a deeply unfun grind session.

    But now they’ve streamlined so much of the game and made the interface so mcuh more intuitive and easy to use it’s actualy fun again.

  • I’d been playing religiously since open beta until WotLK hit, then the casualization just became to much to handle after the awesomeness of Sunwell. I really wish the epeen flexing days would come back, it would spark my interest again.

  • WotLK came out November 2008, Cataclysm is supposedly coming out sometime this year, but from what I’ve heard, it’s about 50/50 who either hate the idea that Blizzard is not thinking up new content and just redoing what content they have, and loving the idea that they can now explore all the vanilla content, but with a twist.

    Personally, I think WoW’s subscribers have plateaued, and if anything, started to go downhill, because Blizzard just can’t think up new worlds or areas that they could introduce into Azeroth without changing or adding to the lore dramatically.

  • I played wow since beta and finished up in july last year. Its a fantastic game with a great community and i highly recommend playing it, especially if you are a fan of blizzard.

    I quit because it felt like the right time to. After playing a game for such along time it was good to end on a high. The only reason i haven’t gone back since is that i deleted my mage that i had for all that time.

    So if u have had thoughts on playing Wow, go and give it a go.

  • I’d be curious to see whether gold sellers and gold farmers, who use those 1 week free accounts before they get banned, are bolstering the numbers.

    There’s been a generation shift over the last ten years. Warcraft really appealed to the X and Y generations, but most cant’ afford to spend that much time playing any more. I used to hear young children playing behind other players’ mikes, but those kids are off to school and their parents can’t afford the time to play.

    • The trial accounts can no longer trade with other characters. Blizzard put a stop to gold farmers using them a long time ago.

      As far as Blizzard counting trial accounts, they might, but I would think those would be even more in decline. If someone hasn’t tried it by now, they’re probably not going to, free trial or not.

      Used to be you started a new alt and you’d find a lot of people in the low level zones you couldn’t trade with. That’s not my experience anymore.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!