World of Warcraft lost over a million subscribers in the first quarter

By on May 9, 2013, 8:30 AM

Activision Blizzard recently revealed that cash cow World of Warcraft lost 1.3 million subscribers during the first quarter of 2013. It’s a significant drop as the subscription-based MMORPG played host to more than 12 million back in 2010. The good news for the publisher, however, is that WoW is still the world’s largest game of its kind with 8.3 million players in the fray. They’ve even got a Guinness World Record to prove it.

Subscriber decline isn’t anything new for World of Warcraft as gamers have slowly but steadily been moving away from the game for a few years. The title received a boost late last year when Mists of Pandaria was released but the new subscribers weren’t sustained.

The company noted that drop-offs were mostly seen in the East although there were declines in the West as well. But what does the future hold for Activision Blizzard’s hit title?

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said he believes further declines are likely and they expect to have fewer subscribers in a year than they do now. That said, the executive revealed plans to release more content for the game on a more regular basis. What’s more, the team wants to make it easier for lapsed players to pick the game back up after taking a break all while keeping existing gamers engaged.

Kotick concluded that they believe in the long-term value of the franchise and will continue to commit substantial resources to the game.




User Comments: 30

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2 people like this | Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

So no plans on a WoW 2? Thats a shame, a new game engine and mechanics would probably bring people back to the franchise, (or at least, it would if it was me).

Shaun2312 said:

"What?s more, the team wants to make it easier for lapsed players to pick the game back up after taking a break all while keeping existing gamers engaged."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zNdw4DaUM8

VitalyT VitalyT said:

Their focus shifted more towards StarCraft II as a type of game that's known to live much longer. I don't know if there is much monetization in the after-sale though, but its game camps are impressively big, as are public events and competitions.

Guest said:

So they still don't get it, they should have planned WoW2 long time back. There is no way this game can survive much longer unless they release a sequel.

MilwaukeeMike said:

I wonder if this is because of the game going south, or the rest of the gaming world catching up. (I doubt fewer people are playing video games). Free to play has become a popular model, even though, I don't understand how they pay their developers. Blizz also has had Diablo 3 and Starcraft II (with a new recent expansion) that have sold really well. Those games are probably eating into WoW subs too.

WoW's latest content was well-received with many people saying it was some of the best content they've ever put out, so I don't think that's the issue. Perhaps it's their player vs player (PVP) area of the game that is a victim of the game being so old. Every expansion Blizzard adds new abilities for the classes, and now that the game has been around so long people have a ton of what's called Crowd Control, which are abilities that stun or otherwise incapacitate your opponent. When two people team up on one, that one person can be controlled until they die. That experience doesn't drive people to sign up for another month.

They've constantly put in new tools to help new players, but I think they need to simplify the actual playing of the game.

Updating the graphics engine would probably help too, but that would probably be terrible expensive.... and every so often this rumor of a new MMO comes up called Titan.

Sniped_Ash said:

I liked Mists way more than Cataclysm, but while I deliberately played Mists more casually and avoided raiding so I wouldn't get burned out like I did in Cataclysm, I quit after roughly the same amount of time in both expansions. Ultimately it just came down to doing the exact same thing every day and feeling the need to do X every day it was available to do. It's kind of hard to justify that when there are so many other, different PC games now that can be experienced with the kind of money it takes to play WoW for a year.

1 person liked this | TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

Guild Wars 2 has a lot to do with it. WoW is outdated and not free to play.

Guest said:

What?s more, the team wants to make it easier for lapsed players to pick the game back up after taking a break all while keeping existing gamers engaged.

They already tried that when they released Cataclysm. It broke the skill required to play the game. Everyone I know stopped playing as soon as that expansion released. I myself got to lvl 85 and got sick of it instantly. The game is a now shadow of what it once was. It had a good run though.

charris1980 charris1980 said:

Season has a lot to do with it too. Spring/Summer you lose a lot of subscribers (this happens every year). When Fall/Winter comes back it will spike again (especially if new expansion).

MilwaukeeMike said:

Season has a lot to do with it too. Spring/Summer you lose a lot of subscribers (this happens every year). When Fall/Winter comes back it will spike again (especially if new expansion).

You're right, but they lost the subs from Jan 1 through March 31st. For anyone living where it snows, march 31st is barely spring. Here in Wisconsin the first day of spring is march 21st, but the first spring day was like April 25th.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I think the best method to keep players on the game, is to release FREE expansions, every time they release a new expansion a whole lot of players move AWAY from the game.

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

They need to lower thier monthly rates.

2 people like this | Blakey Blakey said:

Bring back old Severs, thats all they need, alot of people would kill to play vanilla and Tbc again.

Tygerstrike said:

WoW suffers from what every MMORPG suffers from. You push and push and grind and grind and when you finally get that super cool uber gear, youre burnt out. When you get past the burn out, youre happy you have that uber weapon, then something else comes out and you have to do the grind all over again. This really cuts into your life. I have known many ppl who wont go out and socialize because they have a raid to do.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Bring back old Severs, thats all they need, alot of people would kill to play vanilla and Tbc again.

What the flipin hell you doin on here :P

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Still 8 million almost 10 years later, that's not bad. I wonder if Titan will do as well when it gets released.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

Their focus shifted more towards StarCraft II as a type of game that's known to live much longer. I don't know if there is much monetization in the after-sale though, but its game camps are impressively big, as are public events and competitions.

Especially in Korea lol

1 person liked this | JC713 JC713 said:

A panda on the front cover = skip it!

Mortalife Mortalife said:

I left because I felt I was going through the same life cycle every time a new expansion comes out, level up, grind whatever 'badges/points' you need, get the gear to raid, raid through the content for better gear until you run out of time because a new expansion comes out when all the effort becomes moot. It just all became some trivial to me.

Guest said:

They're not hiding anything, they're just not talking about it yet.

Years ago... About 4-5 years if I remeber correctly, they started publicly hiring lead developers for the "next generation MMORPG"

They're making a WoW2, World of Starcraft, World of Diablo, or some all new MMORPG... They're just not ready show their hand yet.

Heihachi1337 said:

What?s more, the team wants to make it easier for lapsed players to pick the game back up after taking a break all while keeping existing gamers engaged.

They already tried that when they released Cataclysm. It broke the skill required to play the game. Everyone I know stopped playing as soon as that expansion released. I myself got to lvl 85 and got sick of it instantly. The game is a now shadow of what it once was. It had a good run though.

Broke the skill required to play the game? Please explain how they managed to do that. Yet another person that has no clue what they are talking about. You ever play a mage back in Vanilla Warcraft? How about in TBC? One button spamming does not require skill. MoP requires far more skill than any of the previous expansions, in terms of playing your class and knowing boss mechanics.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

As far as the whiners wanting vanilla and TBC back, suck it. Sorry but you folks need to take off your rose-tinted glasses and really look at the game back then. You were very limited in talent choices, you were very lucky if you had 500g on a character, and you really did have to be a basement virgin to make it to top tier raiding back then. I've ranted several times before but you morons still exist and still cry that Vanilla and TBC were the "best expansions ever".

To those that want a WoW2, explain what that would entail that couldn't be done in current WoW. Updated graphics? If you had a decent video card, you would notice the improvements Blizzard has made to the graphics. It is MEANT to be cartooney, deal with it. How would you go about making a "sequal" to an ongoing, ever evolving story? It kills me that none of you morons put any thought into what you are actually saying.

Wow, just wow, I do wonder what planet your on.

We'll start on the first bit about vanilla wow, it was much harder, you said it yourself in the same paragraph, did it ever occur to you that difficulty is what makes something addictive? And at the same time, more rewarding.

And in regards to wow2, this is more of a "something new" like the rumoured Titan mmo they're supposedly working on, but if they did make a wow2 graphics would be a start, even maxed out currently its starting to look old, the water affects are pretty cool now though, physic effects pretty much don't exist, it's all scripted animation, lighting effects have improved over the years but still need work and textures need to be much higher res with much more detail and depth, currently, everything looks a bit flat and smudged.

Plus with a wow2 they could introduce new story lines, characters, races, basically replace everything, and since it would be a brand new mmo they could have a different server setup and have difficulty ratings, if you go onto a normal server with a difficulty of high then stuff will cost more but it will be harder to earn money, rare armour being hard to get, and npc's harder to kill, but the benefit of being on a harder server could be that regular players would have more fun and a bigger challenge and make a better community of players. If your new to the game, why not start on a normal server with a difficulty of low?

Since it'll be designed to run on higher spec pc's they could also make the view distance further and increase world size over current wow over time.

I don't actually play much wow, I have one character that's level 80 and a few other characters but that's about it.

Calling me a ***** though because I felt the game wasn't as challenging as before and because I feel they need to start a fresh (wow2) is just plain laughable.

Guest said:

Lower monthly fees might bring some back.

Maybe even changing holiday events, year after year they were always the same, Kill headless horsemen at Halloween comes to the top of my head, could they not put 10 mins of thought into something new ? Nope they already had my monthly payment.

Been almost 2 years since ive played it, I had my fun with it when I did play but got very boring, not to mention all the ignorant trolls that play the game. Not worth my time or money.

Jbucko said:

They could easily make a sequal. Guild wars did it and it is stealling a lot of WOWs subscribers.

People are just gettting wise. y pay a monthly fee when you can play a just as good or better game for free.

Watch neverwinter take another chunk of WoWs subscribers.

oberonqa oberonqa said:

@Heihachi1337:

Where in tyger's post did he say anything about basement virgins, either directly or indirectly? I think you are perhaps a little quick on the flame gun draw there...

What tyger was trying to suggest, I think, is people who dedicate themselves to endgame raiding in an MMO usually have to balance RL needs with raid schedules. I myself run into that frequently... as I am an assistant manager for a retail store. The sad reality that what I have experienced has lead me to forego serious raiding, as I can't expect people to understand the nature of being on call and put their gaming events on hold because I have to bail mid-raid to attend an issue at my store.

Raiding usually requires an investment of time and while it is possible to raid via PUG's, it's not the same experience as raiding with a dedicated group. It can and often is much more frustrating doing PUG's... which leads to having to schedule raids around RL... which is often easier said than done.

+1 for looking like an arose though... you got style.

Fernando GC Fernando GC said:

Bring back old Severs, thats all they need, alot of people would kill to play vanilla and Tbc again.

So true...

H3llion H3llion, TechSpot Paladin, said:

People suggesting WoW2, oh god please no, let it rest at least for a decade until another WoW. Sure engine rehash is much required but it will simply not be effective at this stage.

I tried Cata got bored and never coming back. Now I rock on ArenaTournament server with WOTLK 3.3.5 and always re-live the good old days. TBC and Vanilla were great but I am/was a pala which were sub-par in those times.

@Jbucko, no GW2 barely stole "a lot of wows subs". As far as I recall, this drop was from Asia.

Common misconception, subs = player base.

One of the issues, empty servers. They need merges at least or server wide phasing. World PvP is dead and thats because PLAYERS let it die, they got lazy. Of course, Blizzard is at fault not rewarding World PvP enough.

WoW will be here for another 10 years before we see server shut down. Id expect another 2 to 4 years before it goes F2P or reduced sub cost (doubtful).

Guest said:

I can no longer handel the daily quests and rep grinding. I was fine when I earned everything when I get my buddys and run heroics. Now to get anything I hafto go do daily quests for rep. Ok bored of that ... lets level up and get something new going. Get to lvl 90 ... back to grinding rep...!?!

I mean never seen a more boring expansion.

Atlast every other expansion U had a challenge of doing hc whit the gear U got from leveling to 80 or 85. Now I get to 90 and no dungeons needed. Go do daily quests. Were is the chalange?! All this expansion provided was loads of player in purple gear who never (and I'm not kiding ... NEVER) stept into an instance and presenting them as "epic" raiders.

But I quit coz of the endless rep grinding. No question there.

NB! Yes I know I have many mistakes. Not doing well on writen english. Move along spelling police. -_-

Guest said:

^ This. I got sick of the rinse repeat aspect and time commitment, not to mention I didn't like content so much after TBC. I still feel the game should have stopped at TBC and something new should have been started... but tell that to Bobby.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Each Warcraft expansion Blizzard updates the game a little bit more. It's an 8 year old game that looks new. I loved Pandaria. The place looks amazing! And the new raids have just the right amount of challenge without being overly difficult. There's a bit more story-telling in this expansion too. Which I really like. The game is starting to get a bit more cinematic.

The sub's lost are mostly in Asia. (Hopefully it's most those gold farmers that annoyed the heck out of us.) Losing that many people is a tipping point, watching how Blizzard reacts will be interesting, but 8 million subscribers is still a huge community.

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