Activision Blizzard downgrades stock due to Old Republic concerns

By Jeff Mattas, Nov 22, 2011 4:30pm PST

World of WarCraft has been perched high atop the massively-multiplayer throne for seven years now, but is about to get its first serious dose of competition when the Electronic Arts-published Star Wars: The Old Republic launches. While it's not really a shock to learn that some folks have already indicated that they'll be leaving Azeroth for a galaxy far, far away, a new survey indicates that World of WarCraft could shed anywhere between 900,000 and 1.6M players when the lightsabers start swinging.

According to Develop, a survey of nearly 400 online World of WarCraft customers indicated about 50% of them planned to purchase The Old Republic. In light of those results, Lazard Capital Markets downgraded Activision Blizzard's stock from 'buy' to 'neutral.'

However, it's worth noting that the very same survey indicated that 33% of WoW players said they'd re-subscribe to the game upon the release of the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion. People love pandas.

The stock rating downgrade also follows the news that World of WarCraft's subscriber base is down about 800,000 users in recent months, as well as news that majority shareholder Vivendi "shed thirty million of its shares in Activision Blizzard, reducing its stake to 60 per cent," last week.

All this aside, World of WarCraft still has more than 10 million current subscribers.

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