World Of Warcraft Still Losing Players

World Of Warcraft Still Losing Players

World of Warcraft’s player numbers have been stalled since late 2008, and in decline for most of 2011. That’s the bad news for the game’s developers, Blizzard.

The good news? It’s not a massive drop, as at June 30 the game still had 11.1 million players. The past quarter the game’s subscriber base had fallen from 12 million to 11.4 million, so to lose only a further 300,000 isn’t…too…bad?

Of course, attempts will be made to stem the losses, including what Blizzard says is a “major new raid and dungeon content” which it’s hoped will “keep the game fresh for current players, and provide compelling reasons for lapsed players to come back.”

And what might that content be? Well, Blizzard recently filed a trademark for something called Mists of Pandaria…maybe giant man-pandas can bring the punters back?

World of Warcraft Subscriptions Continue To Decline, Though More Slowly[Gamasutra]


  • It’s an old game now. Facts are facts. It’s got its rabid fanbase and it’s a very accessible game but Blizzard has to move on at some time, some point… WoW2?

    • exactly, and besides, no other MMO thats subscription based has ever been anywhere as popular as WoW. the game has been running since nov 04 and ive been playing the game since it was released, ive only just started to stop playing and that was mostly because my guild died and well ive no intention of trying to jump into another raiding guild.

    • Sure it’s getting a little long in the tooth, but look at those numbers, that’s over 11 million individual people (and I’m one I should mention) paying a regular subscription price. That’s a freaking nation of people.

      What exactly is their motivation for moving on? Warcraft, love it or hate it, is going to be kicking around for more than a few years to come. This player dip is probably a fraction of what they expected it to be. I’m sure they could happily lose half their subsribers and still have a comfortable revenue stream.

      • It shouldn’t exclusively be about the revenue stream though, and sure enough, they need to keep it steady to maintain the game, and pump money into developing content/expansions, but the only way to keep that coming, is to make content that the customers/gamers are happy to pay for, and apparently, losing nearly a million paying customers in the span of 8 months, there’s something either that people aren’t happy with, or finding lacking.

        • They may be losing players, but they are in no danger of reach an unprofitable state any time soon. Even losing 1 million players a year, they could conceivably continue to run it at a profit for the next decade. Consider that EA have been estimated to have spent as much as $100 million on the development of The Old Republic. Their CFO stated that “[a]t half a million subscribers, the game is substantially profitable, but it’s not the kind of thing we would write home about. Anything north of a million subscribers, it’s a very profitable business”. So 500,000 players is enough for a ROI and to make it, at the least, a sustainable ongoing business (“substantially profitable” sounds pretty good to me, but obviously I set my sights too low). Blizzard have well and truly recouped their development and infrastructure costs by this point (and then some), so what they are primarily covering are the ongoing running costs. No doubt those are fairly hideous given the scale of the infrastructure and the army of people required to maintain it, but even so I can’t see them dropping below a playerbase capable of sustaining it in the immediate future. The most likely scenario is they will be eventually forced to kick people out by shutting the game down to get them to migrate to whatever replacement they wheel out in the next few years.

        • It’s Blizzard of 2011… of course it’s just about revenue stream. Just look at their current business practices.

          • Even if it is no longer profitable, it is a bad sign. Once the player base starts falling, and continues too, how long until the concept that people are moving on from WoW gets around?

            Sure some people will still play it because they love it, but I imagine the majority of people would consider stopping playing if it felt like most of the other players were already leaving and moving on to other games.

      • Azza down below beat me to it – but assuming the price is pretty consistent around the world that’s annual revenue of about $1.7 billion! That’s massive.

        I’ve never played it – my wife tried for a while but got bored beyond the first month – it looked like PS2 standard graphics, maybe people are starting to want newer – shinier things.

  • I will soooo be rolling a Pandaren Brewmaster as soon as they are playable. I’ve being dying to have one since Warcraft III Frozen Throne.

    It’s sad, I know.

    I suspect Blizzard were maybe holding the Pandaran back for when subs started to dip.

  • 11 million people? That’s more than in all of Greece – and with a better performing economy too (boom-tish!)

  • Anyone saying that the numbers are good are fooling themselves. If the number of players remained stagnant it would of been a good result, but to be down 900k this year with blizzard expecting more drops later this year…

    Just how long until the game drops below ~10million subs and leaves blizzard looking to invest in other area’s?

    • Even at 10m subs at US$14.99 a month that’s US$149,900,000 a month!

      When Blizzard start shutting down servers is when I’ll start to get worried.

    • They are already investing in other areas? D3, SC2, Project Titan to name a few. Not gonna be surprised if the WoW team consist of less than 10 man team plus the server dudes.

  • When WoW came out, I was like 14 and didn’t have enough money to pay $20 a month when I had no allowance. By the time I was old enough to get a job and earn enough to afford such a big price, BC was already out and WoTLK was coming soon. So I decided to hold out until the next one.

    But I can’t get why people are still playing! The graphics are really really bad, and I’m sure it’s an awesome game, but I’d like the thing to die so they can release a WoW 2, because I don’t want to jump in the deep end.

    • I think you describe the perfect reason its gonna keep going down, its a catch-22.

      See, they have to keep putting out more content with more area and higher level caps to keep current players interested and paying. They problem is, expansion and expansion and expansion mean that anyone wanting to jump into the game now not only have to pay for monthly cost but have a high (and increasing) upfront cost and an enormous time investment before they can even get to the endgame. The more that they put out the harder it will be to get new players that will be much more likely to hop onto another MMO that is just starting.

    • so you’ve never played wow and you are asking why people are still playing… ill tell you why. WoW is like a black hole inwhich once you go remotely NEAR it your sucked in. only over time do you get bored of wow, but thats only until the next major patch. Plus with the really bad graphics, thats the great thing about WoW. Blizzard make sure that there games can be played on ANY computer, no matter how old it be(im sure the apple II’s cant play it tho… :P) and thats also one of the reasons why it has such a large subscriber base, you need no high tech fancy loot to run it. AND if a patch does come out which has a bug inwhich people on older PC’s cant run it then blizzard are on that problem in 10 minutes. accessibility is a big concern of blizards, hence the shite graphics 😛 well… not shite but cartoony so as to not need much power to run

    • “The graphics are really really bad”. Let me guess, you said the same thing about Wind Waker, right?

      • Windwaker was stylised and awesome! I liked Twilight Princess more, but I was totally down with it, I liked it. Shame there weren’t enough dungeons and the ocean were so poor (triforce fishing…) but I’m not an anti-windwaker. Cell-shaded is good when done right.

        What I mean by bad graphics, is bad for 2011. It was fantastic when it started up, but it’s dated fairly poorly, with jagged edges on terrain and low resolution etc.

        My post wasn’t so much as raging at the game, as wondering why people don’t jump to something with better graphics, and after like 2007 or so, even the free to play MMO’s have better graphics.

        I’m sure the gameplay is strong to keep people hooked, I’m just surpised it’s THAT strong to keep people playing despite the genre moving forward.

    • “The graphics are really really bad”

      This gentleman is clearly a connoisseur of fine games. He is able to appreciate meticulously designed systems, mechanics, and interactions.

      I shall regard his opinion with utmost respect.

  • There will come a point where Blizz will feel it’s not worth their while to continue developing the game.

  • WoW is hardly going to go away soon.. Most console games are lucky to get 3-5 million sales. WoW clearly selling over 11 million, plus each expansion, plus monthly fees.. Blizard could lose millions more subscribers and still have WoW bringing in a decent profit.

    Feels at this point this kind of article is just a bit of negative trolling. WoW maybe getting old and we may want/need a new MMO, but its years from being a dead game – if ever.

  • i stopped playing a few months ago, the vibe of the game is sort of gone for me…everything feels like its been watered down to make it easier to get gear for your average player…i wish they’d bring back the system where you have to work for your loot, ala cenarion circle AQ gear.

  • I’d be willing to sub again if they provided anything for a non raiding/gearnut for there sub fee

    Otherwise I’ll play an mmo that at least redirects some of it’s investor into other areas

  • Feh how long were people still playing ultima and such and these guys have still got F2P to fall back on, especially with the groundwork already being laid out. Now as I understand it D3’s auction house real currency system is going to have people transfer money to your account which blizz will hold onto until you claim it right? So they would be claiming interest on your transactions? Can you say Bank of Blizzard?

  • Until they find respect for their customer base, and the developers (Looking at you Ghostcrawler) and gm’s lose some of their arrogance I don’t see anything but the continued decline of WOW. Being the biggest doesn’t make you untouchable.

    I’m not trolling. I’m speaking from the perspective of someone who played since vanilla and left after playing Cataclysm. Left along with the 150 or so raiders in my guild at the time.

    Stupid stuff as well like 40min waiting in queues for stuff. The fact that I had to go to an unaffiliated web site to check the hotfix of the day. Unbalanced faction numbers on servers. Reputation gain limits c’mon, I didn’t give blizz my money to tell me what i can do for how long. Its an mmo, I’m supposed to be able to grind. Cataclysm was broken when released..released way too early for sure and I know i’m not alone in saying that.

    I will say this, thanks to Cataclysm I am having a blast playing my xbox 360 again. In the end I voted with my wallet as i’m sure many will continue to do.

  • Yeah, look I like WoW. I play it in bursts. At the moment my account is on hiatus. This is because, it gets boring. You do all the quests, get through the instance runs etc and level up to the cap and then sit around doing not a lot for a long time between xpacks. I think they did a good thing changing up Azeroth, but at the end of the day, you are still stuck doing to the same thing as you were years ago.

    “Major new raid and dungeon content” would not “keep the game fresh” for me, nor would it “provide compelling reasons” for me to come back in the immediate future. Maybe because I am not a raider at heart. I’d rather be doing other things.

  • Its death will not come quick enough for me. Catering to raiders every patch makes me not want to sub back. Time for something new and a different approach.

  • I miss the good old days when WOW was this massive world that nobody had explored and it was all a big mystery to what was out there. I really wanted WAR to succeed because i enjoyed that for the same reason that i knew nothing of its world and wanted to explore it. Pity they didnt offer a trial for it reckon that was the main reason it failed and nobody crossed over from WOW.

    • I know what you mean. I remember flying out of Teldrassil to Auberdine on my first character (early TBC) and thinking to myself “holy crap, this is amazing, ill need explore all of it”, it took probably until Wrath released before the grindy feeling started to kick in and it became raid focus. I didnt last much longer subscribed after that, quitting just after they phased out Ulduar with ToC

      • I think its just a thing with games that you’ll never get the same feel of wonder and awe that happens with the first playthrough, kinda like a movie, you can only watch it so long before everything becomes predictable

  • WoW isn’t any worse than it was before. It’s simply plateaued because all the people who would ever have played WoW have already gotten into it, and many have since left.

  • WoW is like the best bubblegum on the planet. The longest-lasting, freshest, easiest to chew…

    But we’ve been chewing it hours every day for years.

  • The upfront cost of catching up on buying the last 2 x-packs for both myself and the other player in the family is what’s limiting my subs to generally a random month once a year. Once I add in the subscription fee x2, it’s over the value for money I can even consider trying to justify to myself.

  • Most MMOs wish they had “only” 11.whatever million subscribers. But hey I unsub’d a long time ago. I’ve come back briefly after the last couple xpacs but despite the changes they just can’t hold me and I have probably won’t buy any more xpacs or sub again.

    Hoping SW:TOR will be good. I miss MMO’s, just not the ones available right now.

  • The game was great from launch, but by the time it got to lich king(4 years roughly) i felt it was nothing more than the same repetitive shit, which is unfortunate, BC was pretty awesome, as to was the sunwell!!

  • Once Swtor is properly released in Australia ill be cancelling my WoW sub to make sure it ends when SWtor begins.

  • It’s strange reading these comments.

    Man the games so watered down these days, they need to make it hard again/Man I’d play again if the game wasn’t so geared to hardcore raiders.

    If nobody’s happy it must mean the games found a perfect balance of providing hardcore and casual play 😀

  • Wait…these guys make almost $2 billion a year on this one game? I’d imagine the profit margin is huge as well.
    I wonder what this ranks them in the Forbes list?

  • Eve Online accounts just resubbed for another 12 months (loving this strong AUD)… Yep, still glad I stopped playing WoW all those years ago…

    Time to go blow up some poor sods hard earned faction fit L4 mission boat for some lols 🙂

  • Well, I’m not surprised. I started during TBC, and completed that and WoTLK. The game got progressively worse during WoTLK with all the easily obtained stuff for people that were shit at the game.

    Serves them right. Bring on WoW2 in a state and balance more like WoW1 circa 04-07

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