With the upcoming release of the first ever Warcraft film this June and the release of Legion, the next World of Warcraft (WOW) expansion, shortly afterwards in September, fans of Blizzard’s flagship series have a lot to look forward to this year.
After its inception in 2004, WOW became almost synonymous with the term “Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game” (MMORPG). The game had over 12 million subscribers at its peak in 2010 (the year of its third expansion, Cataclysm), and became almost definitive of the genre and online gaming in general.
However, since that peak in 2010, WOW’s popularity has steadily declined. Gamespot reports that, in November, Blizzard said that they had 5.5 million subscribers. This was a loss of 100,000 since the previous report three months prior, and Gamespot reports that the company now stands at a nine-year low for subscribers.
5.5 million is definitely not a bad number, but it is a substantial drop from the 12 million of WOW’s prime, and suggests a substantial shift in the current MMORPG market. Blizzard also claims that this will be the last time they provide subscriber numbers, and that this information will no longer be divulged in the future, as they look to other forms of data to understand their success.
One of the major changes introduced in response to this drop in subscribers was the company’s decision to increase the number of expansions they release. Gamerant reports that Blizzard has announced intentions to release one expansion per year, which is a substantially more frequent rate than their previous expansions (the game currently has six expansions, and has been out for 12 years, for an average rate of one game every two years).wow gold