World of Warcraft Experiences Growth Spurt, Hits 12 Million 'Subscribers'

Having stalled at around 11.5 million "subscribers" for a fair while, World of Warcraft has finally received a bump and passed the 12 million mark, developer Blizzard Entertainment announced today.

Blizzard declared in December 2008 that its fantasy MMORPG reached 11.5 million subscribers following the launch of its second expansion pack, Wrath of the Lich King. However, it stalled around then and by February 2010 still only had 11.5 million.

Not all of the twelve million are subscribers in the conventional sense, mind. Blizzard's definition also covers players who've accessed the game from an "Internet Game Room"--an Internet cafe where it's playable subscription-free--within the last thirty days as well as all still playing the free month included with a new copy. Blizzard explains:

World of Warcraft subscribers include individuals who have paid a subscription fee or have an active prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access. Internet Game Room players who have accessed the game over the last thirty days are also counted as subscribers. The above definition excludes all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or cancelled subscriptions, and expired prepaid cards. Subscribers in licensees' territories are defined along the same rules.

Blizzard gives no indication of how the playerbase breaks down into these categories. The developer also offers no explanation of where the spurt might have come from (as why wouldn't everyone want to play their game?) but does mention that it comes "in the wake of" WoW's long-overdue official mainland Chinese launch on August 31, as well as ahead of the December 7 launch of World of Warcraft's third expansion pack 'Cataclysm.'

"The support and enthusiasm that gamers across the world continue to show for World of Warcraft reaffirms our belief that it offers one of the best entertainment values available today," Blizzard CEO and co-founder Mike Morhaime said in the announcement. "We are as committed as ever to taking the game to new heights, and we look forward to demonstrating that with Cataclysm in December."

From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 7, 2010 10:14 AM

    They only comment on this stuff before each expansion pack. I'd be interested to know how many people quit after being tired of ICC or will quit after they figure out how bad Cata is going to be. Like Steam offers full statistics.

    • DM7 legacy 10 years legacy 20 years
      October 7, 2010 10:19 AM

      So tell me oh great sage, how bad will cataclysm be?

      • reply
        October 7, 2010 10:29 AM

        I'm guessing bad enough to increase subs to close to 13 million.

        I mean, if they're announcing a 500k net gain since WotLK (given that there probably are a lot of people not playing at the moment), then I assume things are going pretty well.

        • reply
          October 7, 2010 12:25 PM

          Thats pretty terrible.

    • reply
      October 7, 2010 10:31 AM

      I was under the impression that cata was going to be more like vanilla and tbc and less like wrath. Is that so?

      • reply
        October 7, 2010 10:50 AM

        The theming is going to be more like Vanilla, not at all like TBC. But they've said they're redoing alot of the vanilla experience based on the things they've learned from Wrath. The questing experience is way better in Wrath than either Vanilla or TBC.

      • reply
        October 7, 2010 10:51 AM

        does that statement even make sense? I thought wrath was a lot closer to vanilla than tbc was

        • reply
          October 7, 2010 11:40 AM

          I think if you're talking in terms of color palette, yes. I think what he means is in term of level design and questing and hubs and such. I really kind of blanked out during TBC so I have limited capacity to compare it to Wrath, which I played the Hell out of.

    • reply
      October 7, 2010 10:58 AM

      all of the growth is coming from china. china just launched WoLK in September. this is causing the slight uplift in the numbers. A little more than half of the total sub base is now in china. probably 7m in china/rest of world vs. 5m in the us/europe. once cataclysm launches, that might boost the western numbers slightly as well.

    • reply
      October 7, 2010 12:40 PM

      By that logic, wouldn't right now be the low point in subscribers with the surge coming just before or just after the release of Cataclysm?

Hello, Meet Lola