It’s been 8 long months since World of Warcraft (WoW) expansion ‘Warlords of Draenor’ hit the shelves and despite everything Blizzard have done to try to keep fans playing, subscriptions have dropped by 4.4 million. Which brings the game to its lowest number of subscribers in 9 years time. Blizzard have already announced a new expansion for WoW which is a little earlier than they would usually, it seems to be in reaction to the low numbers given the previous track records of expansion packs.
Warlords of Draenor saw a lot of once proud members of the community return to the game providing a large spike of 3 million subscriptions, critics put this down to some of the pre-order bonus’ that were tied in with the expansion, as players both new and returning were given a free level 90 Character to add to their roster. Saving players a lot of time trailing back through the games absolutely enormous universe before they could actually experience the new content, however retaining those players is the hard part, and nowadays WoW has a lot of competition that don’t require monthly payments to play. Many fans who played the game back when it first launched have now turned elsewhere with the mind-set that WoW just became less interesting as time went on.
On a personal level I have to agree to a point, WoW was just so much more of an enjoyable experience when it first came out, acquiring level 60 was a long drawn out process that saw you experience more or less the whole of the games worlds. Upon hitting the level cap you then had a whole new experience which became tainted by the introduction of “group finders” and Players vs Player specific gear. Regardless my opinions are purely personal and even with them I’m still able to enjoy the game in short bursts for what it is rather than what it was.
It’s also worth noting at this point, that the drop of subscribers can also be blamed on the introduction of the MOBA which has seen many gamers switch to an altogether different kind of game. Despite all of this, Blizzard Activision have had a great year so far boasting huge numbers in the last quarter. Publisher wide subs are on the rise across the various games and profits are also up. Along with Bungie’s Destiny, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone have a combined player base of over 70 million people while Skylanders and Call of Duty are still proving to be 2 of the industries biggest successes and Diablo 3 previously hit the land mark of 30 million units sold.
Looking to the future things can only really get better as well, Call of Duty, Skylanders and Destiny all have big releases coming in the near future along with the newly announced WoW expansion, StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void and Hearthstone: The Grand Tournament on the way. With all of that in mind we can’t imagine the share-holders backing out anytime soon and that really only covers the tip of the iceberg for Activision.