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 World of Warcraft  Loses Another 800K Subs In Three Months
World of Warcraft Loses Another 800K Subs In Three Months
November 8, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi

November 8, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi
More: Console/PC, Social/Online, Business/Marketing

Activision Blizzard's popular MMO World of Warcraft is continuing to shed subscribers, though a new promotional strategy is expected to help pick up the slack soon.

As of September 30, the game stood at 10.3 million players, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime revealed Tuesday in a Gamasutra-attended conference call. This is down nearly a million from the 11.1 million reported three months prior, and significantly less than a peak of 12 million subscribers just last year.

According to Morhaime, the majority of these declines continues to come from the East, though the game continues to be "one of the most popular online games in China, and remains by far the most popular subscription-based MMO in the world."

"That said, we know there are improvements that we can make in game content," he continued.

As the company has been explaining for most of the year, subscriber churn following the game's last major expansion, Cataclysm, was significant: the game lost nearly 1 million players, as seasoned veterans of the game re-upped their accounts, devoured the content quickly, and unsubscribed again.

The company has a content update pack launching in the coming weeks, but as Morhaime explained today, "it's really not intended to go out and drive new user acquisition, that's a whole other strategy. But it does drive engagement with the game, and so that will impact churn if we do it successfully, and will eventually drive winback, as players tell each other about the content they're enjoying."

Besides the game's upcoming fourth expansion pack, Mists of Pandaria, subscriber count -- not to mention retention -- is expected to increase with a recently-announced promotion that sees free copies of the company's upcoming Diablo III included with the purchase of an annual pass to the game.

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Michael Wenk
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I swear I read that the operator of WoW in China was reporting record revenue. Doesn't seem to agree with the fact that the majority of losses occurred in the east...

Jake Moore
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From memory china runs on a pay for hours scheme rather then monthly subscriptions, it could be possible that fewer people are playing more hours.

Harry Fields
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10+ million subscribers 6+ years after launch is still nothing to sneeze at.

Mike Thorpe
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It's staggering. No other online game has come anywhere close. I find it almost irritating that this kind of information is presented as something that's bad or even surprising.

The headlines should be "Incredibly, World of Warcraft still has 10mil Subscribers 2,190 days after launch".

Freek Hoekstra
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@ mike,

indeed, it is a remarkable achievement and this is nothing that activision didn;t see coming, they redid a lot for cataclysm, lowering the total new amount of content to be discovered for players who already did the game, but making the game more fun to do over again.

and now with the new expansion they are adding a whole new world again, and even after all this if in 2 years WoW would be dead (which I find a highly unlikely scenario) then blizzard has Titan up it's sleeve. ready to take over the throne.

the MMO genre has not become any easier to take over, the product has only matured and increased in size making it harder and harder to dethrone every year.

blizzard has done a stunnign job, and even though It is the only game from blizzard I personally do not like, it is in many ways their greatest achievement.

Harry Fields
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Oh, I suspect WoW won't be shutting down anytime soon. If Everquest one can push out 17 expansions and still be online with <100k subs, I don't see WoW having any problems staying online for a LONG time, especially if Blizz continues to update the engine and add new features. It's natural for the genre to bleed off subs over time, but Blizz has only gotten better at managing the game.

Joseph Caddell
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800K of those players discovered EVE online XD

Joe Random
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Frankly I'm amazed it's taken this long for the decline to start, given how much Act/Blizz has wound back the rate of new content releases, and the somewhat dated graphics.