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Exclusive:  World Of Warcraft 's U.S. Retail Sales Total 8.6 Million
Exclusive: World Of Warcraft's U.S. Retail Sales Total 8.6 Million
July 29, 2009 | By Staff

July 29, 2009 | By Staff
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Blizzard's World Of Warcraft has sold a spectacular 8.6 million copies to date, according to NPD data provided to Gamasutra.

Following the revelation that The Sims 3 sold more than 800,000 copies in its first month at U.S. retail, Gamasutra followed up with NPD to find out how well WoW -- perhaps the only retail competitor to The Sims series over the past few years -- has fared.

The NPD Group rolled up multiple SKUs of the massively popular PC online game and its expansion packs since its November 2004 launch to arrive at the 8.6 million figure.

No information on average sale price across all versions was provided. But presuming $30 for each unit sold (the core game currently retails at $19.95; expansion packs and compilations for as much as $39.95), it amounts to as much as $258 million total from U.S. retail alone.

The statistics provided by NPD included the base World of Warcraft, plus the Collectors Edition version, the expansion pack-bundling Battle Chest, and the two standalone expansions: The Burning Crusade and Wrath Of The Lich King.

Although the operator transition in China is likely to have diminished the userbase somewhat, Activision Blizzard's most recently-announced total of 11.5 million subscribers is the company's main moneyspinner.

Millions in the West pay $15 a month to play the game, which means hundred of millions of dollars yearly for Blizzard. World of Warcraft shows no signs of losing its massive lead in the subscription MMO market in the near future.


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Comments


Joshua Sterns
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World of Warcraft never ceases to wow me. ha ha ha



Seriously, this is the only game that I have ever played exclusively for over two years. Never thought I'd play a game day in and day out like that but I did. If it wasn't for wow drama and Halo 3, then I'd probably still be playing this amazing game.

steve roger
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I just don't get it. I bought WOW and tried to play it over a three month period, it was so boring. I am not trolling here, I just frankly don't understand the attraction. I have played the Final Fantasy series and I get that. I have played Guild Wars from time to time, but I am just not interested in the grind it takes to level your character. Yet, this game is wildly popular, it has to be good.

Maurício Gomes
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I think that the reason of the popularity is more its social results than actual gameplay, if you are playing alone, without a single friend, then it is hell boring unless you turn into a PK or something like that...



But if you have like already 30 friends playing, that you can join with them and raid dungeons, kick some boss ass while laught at your idiot wizard friend that attacked the boss with a stick and died, then it is not boring anymore... Get it?



The grind part is only to ensure that this group of 30 friends keep playing the long as possible...

Joshua Sterns
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Helder is correct about friends adding to the overall experience. I was in a great pvp guild for a few years. Having 20+ people online at all times makes it really easy to raid a town or play some battlegrounds. The other feature that kept me playing was the sheer scale of the game. Exploring new lands, the games econonmy, new patches with the same old mechanics but new skins, new shiny items, new spells, etc.



I haven't, however, played other MMO's. I have always wondered if I would enjoy WoW as much after playing Guild Wars, Everquest, Ciy of Heroes, or Final Fantasy.

Rob Schatz
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These numbers are incredibly deceiving. What a bunch of BS. Counting across all SKUs over a 5-year period? That's not fair to other titles that are judged on a per-title basis, i.e. just about every title that comes out. Why does WoW get the bye?



Secondly, the 11.5 million subscriber is a load of bull. Yes, WESTERN COUNTRIES may pay an average of$14.99 a month, but that ain't how it's bought and paid for in China or the rest of APAC. There, users go to an Internet cafe' (remember those? ) and pay on a per-hourly basis.

Roberto Alfonso
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Rob, when EA stated The Sims had sold 100 million units worldwide, they included expansion packs there, even when they may not be played as standalone games ;-) And even if we agree that the subscriber amount is suspicious, we cannot just dismiss the impact of WoW in gaming.



We can do a very simple analysis here: I kind of remember around 2 million WoW subscribers in USA (3 in Europe and 5 in Asia). Even if we stretch that to 2.5 million, it means there is a big chunk of people who have left the game. The most optimistic view would be that all those 2.5m bought all the expansions, which makes up 7.5m, and considering all those who left having bought all expansions too, it would be around 400,000 players. The most pessimistic view would be that the game lost 6.1m players (with not a single player having bought ever an expansion). A simpler view: around a million players have left the game, which is about a third of the base.



By the way, I doubt Blizzard will release a subscription update this year. With the Chinese server change, the subscription amount there must have dropped to almost zero.

steve roger
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Thanks, I am sure the social aspect, must be the draw, plus the feeling of superiority with a strong character. Trouble is that ensuring a strong character is the part I can't stand. I wish there was a way to attack a position or boss with a group without having to grind.



My worry about Star Trek Online and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, two themes I really am interested in will require hours of tribble or bantha fodder collecting before I get to feel the force or go where no man has gone before.

Wolf Wozniak
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4.3million are gold sellers rebuying the game.

Rob Schatz
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Roberto (awesome coincidence we nearly have the same name, just in different languages!), thanks for providing those numbers. I've never seen the breakdown of their subscribers globally and I'm glad you provided a good estimate. I didn't know that the Sims PR folks fudged the numbers there too by counting expansion packs, but looking at WoW, I consider Lich King a separate game only because you play in an entirely different realm with new monsters, entirely new classes, etc. Sounds like a sequel to me! The Burning Crusade seemed more of a typical expansion to me, but then again these are my own biases.



WoW definitely has had a very powerful impact on gaming. It draws on a couple of things:

a) People want to make a difference and a positive impact. Unfortunately, the real world doesn't offer many opportunities to do this. WoW does, from a pyschological perspective.

b) Players get a reputation, good, bad or otherwise. But a reputation nonetheless. It might be more recognition than they get at their 9-5 job in the real world.

c) Because of a) and c), players get a sense of self-worth.



Jane McGongial at the Institute For The Future has done a ton of research into this and I talk about how these aspects can be reversed to make an impact on the real world here in my blog:



http://missingbullet.wordpress.com/



Take a read everyone and let me know what you think.

Chris Proctor
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I'm curious as to how 8.6 million box sales including expansions translates to >11 million subscribers, even taking China into account. I'd also always assumed that WoW's churn would mean that the number of people who've ever played WoW would be quite a lot higher than the current subscription level. I don't see how the numbers quoted can be accurate.

Roberto Alfonso
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Chris, these are numbers in USA only, where Blizzard itself had stated previously they have between 2m and 2.5m active subscribers. So, the numbers match well enough.


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