World of Warcraft subscriptions continue to decline; majority in the east

World of Warcraft subscriptions fell approximately 800,000 this quarter, dipping to 10.3 million. It was just over year ago, the game had welcomed its 12 millionth active subscriber.

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During Activision Blizzard's investor relations call earlier today, Blizzard boss Michael Morhaime revealed that subscriptions for the hugely successful MMO have dropped to 10.3 million active subscribers for the end of the company's fiscal third quarter. Approximately 800,000 users have walked away from the WoW universe during the period, based on Activision Blizzard's fiscal second quarter investor relations call, where Morhaime noted subscriptions for the game had dipped to 11.1 million.

Though Blizzard doesn't divulge forecasts on "subscribership levels," Morhaime noted that "the majority of the declines were in the east." Morhaime added that China still represents "more than half" of World of Warcraft's global player base.

Speaking with the investors, Morhaime attempted to reassure them on dropping numbers for Blizzard's MMO. "Historically, December has been a very good month for subscriber trends." A number of "initiatives" and "agressive" marketing promotions are planned to help entice gamers into the realms of World of Warcraft, but Activision Blizzard would not detail them during the call.

"The announcements at BlizzCon were incredibly well-received," Morhaime said, speaking specifically to the Mists of Pandaria expansion and other changes to World fo Warcraft. The content in the next WoW patch is currently in test, he revealed, and the company is "very excited" about that content.

The apex for World of Warcraft's subscription base hit in October 2010, when Blizzard announced the title had achieved "12 million subscribers." Since then, the MMO has slowly lost active users. Blizzard has said it plans to speed up expansion development to reduce lost subscriptions and has since revealed a new promotion that gives users a free copy of Diablo 3 if they commit to a one year subscription to its MMO.

Regardless of falling numbers, World of Warcraft is still the king of the MMO castle that so many publishers have attempted--or are attempting--to storm.

From The Chatty
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    November 8, 2011 3:45 PM

    Xav de Matos posted a new article, World of Warcraft subscriptions continue to decline; majority in the east.

    World of Warcraft subscriptions fell approximately 800,000 this quarter, dipping to 10.3 million. It was just over year ago, the game had welcomed its 12 millionth active subscriber.

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      November 8, 2011 3:49 PM

      Mists of Pandaria was well-received? That's what a friend cited as the reason why he canceled his WoW subscription last month. Didn't Garnett Lee spend the first part of the last Weekend Confirmed completely trashing Mists of Pandaria?

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        November 8, 2011 3:50 PM

        what the hell is mists of pandaria

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          November 8, 2011 3:50 PM

          Kung Fu Panda expansion

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            November 8, 2011 3:52 PM

            This, I havn't played WoW in years but this expansion really shows how desperate and bad things are getting, from a non-subscriber position anyways. The whole panda thing just reeks of lame.

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              November 8, 2011 3:54 PM

              oh it's the next expansion? meh, I'll be playing SWTOR be then

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              November 8, 2011 3:54 PM

              It looks really fucking bad

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              November 8, 2011 3:58 PM

              I can't believe it either -- I was thinking it was going to be Emerald Dream time. Definitely have NO interest in returning for this expansion.

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                November 8, 2011 4:16 PM

                Emerald Dream is covered by one of the Warcraft books so it won't be a part of future expansions.

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                November 8, 2011 4:20 PM

                I was thinking Sargeras and/or Maelstrom myself. I think it's kind of lame they do all this hinting about what caused Deathwing's madness (old gods !?) and are apparently just trashing it for horde/alliance war and pandas.

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              November 8, 2011 5:49 PM

              Oh Jesus christ. Really?

              People are choosing to focus on the Panda race (omg Gnomes and Tauren are SO MUCH COOLER) instead of some of the new features.

              1) Challenge system
              2) Raid Finder
              3) New Monk Class
              4) Character model overhaul
              5) New content
              6) New heroics
              7) New zones

              And a bunch of other crap. I really don't get the hate. If you don't like Pandas, don't play one. Problem solved.

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                November 8, 2011 5:52 PM

                NEW PANDA RACE??? OH GOD I AM IN

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                  November 8, 2011 5:54 PM

                  I'm going to enjoy the shit out of my Panda Monk healer, that's all I know.

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                November 8, 2011 6:26 PM

                I wasn't hating, it just seems like desperation from Blizzard. Oh yeah and for the record I don't play it.

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                November 9, 2011 2:29 AM

                dont forget pokemon pet battles!

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            November 8, 2011 9:32 PM

            is kung fu panda a good movie ?

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              November 8, 2011 9:48 PM

              Enjoyable enough for a light hearted comic action film. I liked the sequel too, Gary Oldman is a legend.

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          November 8, 2011 10:08 PM

          an attempt to get young kids to play the game?

          really... kung fu panda and some kind of pokemon monster collecting.. how could it not be to try to get kids to play?

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        November 8, 2011 5:23 PM

        Well of course it's going to be well received at Blizzcon, the convention for the overly zealous Blizzard fans. I think it's a stupid farce, but the underlying changes are pretty good. Kung Fu pandas as the next race/class is retarded, but the changes to the talent trees look good.

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        November 9, 2011 7:28 AM

        I actually like the look of mists of pandaria. I stopped playing wow cause the dungeons were too hard to tank. (am a warrior)

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      November 8, 2011 3:53 PM

      Interesting. Wonder what the cause is?

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        November 8, 2011 3:54 PM

        The game is just getting old. It was never going to keep growing forever.

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        November 8, 2011 3:58 PM

        all things end

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        November 8, 2011 4:00 PM

        There is nothing to do unless you are in for maximizing your numbers, cheeves, or truely enjoy doing thes same content over and over.

        Most of the new content is redone troll instances or a raid instance every 6 months. Hard to keep normal people "hooked," especially when there is no penalty for quitting and just starting up again when that new content finally comes out.

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          November 8, 2011 4:15 PM

          You've just described pretty much every MMO.

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          November 8, 2011 4:23 PM

          They've run out of mechanics for fights. Heroic Firelands doesn't have any new mechanics save Rhyolith's leg steering (and that's a shitty one). Everything else is some combination of adds, kiting, damage/heal buffs, etc which the majority of somewhat hardcore raiders have seen and mastered ages ago.

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            November 8, 2011 5:52 PM

            I think if they built on the social aspects more somehow or allowed players to change the world more then more people would stay on.

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            November 8, 2011 9:26 PM

            The entirety of Firelands is basically just 7 different ways to avoid standing in fire. Throw some adds to kill here and there.

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          November 9, 2011 1:00 AM

          Don't forget the fact that they prematurely nerfed THE SHIT out of Firelands thus killing all joy of progressing through that place.

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        November 8, 2011 4:07 PM

        How much higher can you go than 12 million people? It's got to go down sometime and the game is getting fairly old now. that being said. 10 mill subs is still pretty damn good for it's age

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        November 8, 2011 6:06 PM

        I doubt even Blizzard could answer that question any better than a person who has been playing since release.

        I wonder how the focus from large to smaller guilds played a part over the years. For many guilds a single person could leave and wipe the entire guild out. It could be a burnt-out raid leader or just an individual that puts the community in the guild.

        How many times would you guild hop & server hop. You find that perfect guild and all is good for several months and then poof.

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        November 8, 2011 6:56 PM

        The root cause is badge gear. Blizzard created it so people felt like they were constantly "leveling up", but the result is that because people are so focused on getting better gear, they have no reason to run older content. They also cause a gear reset every patch instead of every expansion, which invalidates all of the old content they've created. No one has a reason to run it anymore. So badge gear has stuck Blizzard in a situation where they need 4x the content creation rate to keep people interested and they can't keep up, so people are unsubscribing.

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          November 8, 2011 9:31 PM

          There is truth here.

          By giving "casual" players so much easily obtainable free epics (via dailies, rep, "heroic" 5-mans, Justice / Valor Points, etc) they have effectively antiquated every single bit of content prior to Firelands.

          In Wrath is reached that point eventually but for the most part there was still a reason to go back and run Naxx or Ulduar on an alt / newer character in order to get a good starter set. In Cataclysm that just isn't the case. I resubbed recently for shits and giggles (read: got tired of losing level 50 characters in the TOR beta to wipes) and got my paladin to level 85 (4th 85) ... and in less than 5 hours played at 85 that very same Paladin had an item level (another stupid addition to the game) that was higher than the gear that drops from last tiers raids. Fast forward to now, less than a week later, and that very same paladin has almost no use for the vast majority of the content that isn't Firelands or the daily quests associated with it.

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          November 8, 2011 9:31 PM

          This is an excellent point. I miss the old TBC days when you actually had to progress through instances and tiers.

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          November 8, 2011 10:34 PM

          Except that they had badge gear in WotLK and they peaked in subs there and while the "My epics aren't worth as much because too many people have them"-crowd bitched a lot, there were a fuckton of more casual players who were having a ton of fun and they made it much easier to get into the endgame raids with things like the Icecrown buff.

          I can't say what exactly changed other than dungeons being designed to be more challenging, but something made Cata far less fun at endgame and I agree, it's hard to stick with it.

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        November 9, 2011 12:31 AM

        Simple aging of the game and player burnout. Plus many players see the forthcoming Pandaren expansion as jumping the shark.

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        November 9, 2011 1:53 PM

        At first I thought it was because they made the endgame content pretty challenging. Blizzard seems to think the same thing, seeing as how they nerfed it all.

        But now I'm considering that the subscription loss is mostly occurring in the East, and unless I'm mistaken China doesn't even have Cataclysm yet.

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      November 8, 2011 3:56 PM

      oh my god how will i ever field a 5-man again.

      wow's fucking dead, man.

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      November 8, 2011 3:56 PM

      10.3 million is still a crap ton of players.

      Seems like everyone is freaking out over loosing 800k. And yeah that's alot, dont get me wrong, but with 10.3 million still playing seems weird to me.

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      November 8, 2011 4:17 PM

      You guys all remember that the original EQ is still around, right? Calling this the death of WoW is rather premature. The big slide? Sure. The end is nigh? Naw. But, this does show the expansions will get wilder just to try new things.

      And, I think that's the key. This actually frees them to try new things while working on that secret mmo they've been hiring for.

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        November 8, 2011 4:26 PM

        If wow lost half it's customers tomorrow it would still be more successful than EQ ever was. Wow isn't going anywhere for a long time. People predicting its death don't know what they're talking about. The fucker still has over 10 million subs. The only thing that's going to hurt wow are blizzards own products like diablo 3 and this new mmo that'll be out in a few years.

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        November 8, 2011 4:26 PM

        we have hit peak wow. wow production is now decreasing by 800k barrels a quarter. you may have to stand in line for your wow in the future

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        November 9, 2011 4:02 AM

        But this is Axedivision. If it isn't earning Bobby Kotick big bucks on a yearly bases, its days will be numbered at some point.

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          November 9, 2011 4:17 AM

          Yeah, Actard won't keep feeding the cash cow if it stops giving milk!

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      November 8, 2011 4:41 PM

      Maybe them making the start so easy was a bad decision? I don't play so I probably don't know shit but something must've kept those people interested for years on end.

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        November 8, 2011 5:11 PM

        The new starting zones are rally good, and cutting the grind to 80 was well recieved. Endgame is where you lose people. They max level and ask, "what now?" If they don't like the answer or Blizzard changes the end content to something they don't like, they move on.

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          November 9, 2011 12:49 AM

          The 3 existing Raids and FL were way to easy imo, my raid group cleared all existing riads (pre-nerf) without really outgearing it etc. now we just do the hard modes becuase elsewise its too boring. Generally the boss fights have very little innovation, its basically gtfo of the dangerous stuff, gather, spread out, burn down the boss.

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      November 8, 2011 5:13 PM

      lol wow is not dying, nor will it until blizzard decides to kill it for WOW2 or whatever. the game has ten fucking million subscribers still. there comes a point when an MMO starts to plateau and the active subs kind of stabilize and thats where they stay forever and ever and ever. the fact that WOW has been increasing in numbers for so long, and has just now started to decline in the past year or so, is utterly mind blowing. people are silly. most other MMO's dont even have 800k subs.

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      November 8, 2011 5:29 PM

      It's not OMG SKY IS FALLING news but even if it were, so what? The thing can't go on forever. Blizzard made an extremely popular game that changed the industry (some would argue for the worse, but that's kinda beside the point).

      Personally, I love WoW. From 2004-2008, I played it just about every day. My subscription has been on and off a few times since then, with the latest "off period" being about 8 months. I love the world, I love my characters, I love its style, but at some point you just have to say you've had enough. That doesn't mean it sucks all of a sudden, just that I'm done with it.

      I can't discount the possibility that I'll be pulled back in for the next expansion or even the one after that, but it's not a part of my life anymore. I'd wager that's the same case for a lot of people, and it's quite possible they'll never again eclipse the 12-mil mark, but imo they don't have to either. WoW has made its mark on the gaming world, and I think it's mostly a good one.

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      November 8, 2011 6:29 PM

      I quit because league of legends is a much better game.

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      November 8, 2011 6:33 PM

      ill stick with LotRO for gaming and WoW once in a while for friends-fun time.

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      November 8, 2011 11:03 PM

      Would be sweet if they opened up a vanilla server. Apply 60 cap, lightly reworked spec trees, and maybe one spec only instead of two. Or introduce BC and Wrath servers where people can relive wow how they want from when they want.

      I understand that managing, balancing, and dividing the playerbase make this almost impossible, if not completely impossible, but allowing the freedom for players to find homes in places where they have their fondest memories would be awesome for everyone.

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        November 8, 2011 11:04 PM

        40 man raids would also be back on these awesome vanilla servers.

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        November 8, 2011 11:51 PM

        the MangOS project is pretty much this. The "free" servers out there are pretty much updated to just WotLK and you can pick how far updated you want the game to be.

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        November 9, 2011 12:23 AM

        The current generation of gamers immediately gives up if they don't have easy access to raids or dungeons. Classic WoW was cool, but would be much too frustrating.

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          November 9, 2011 2:34 AM

          definitely been spoiled by the recent mechanics - a little too easy now - wrath was the high point i think

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            November 9, 2011 3:07 AM

            Wrath was far easier, at least for casual players. The heroic dungeons were cakewalks and the Icecrown buff made that much easier as well.

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        November 9, 2011 3:50 AM

        Your memories of vanilla is most likely fond because you don't remember all the terrible parts of it. Going back there now would most likely ruin and destroy all your fond memories.

        Some dream about it because they felt more hardcore as raiders, "you had to be good to get purple gear". Well, if a vanilla server appears now, only those who are really good would actually play there, so that feeling would be gone.

        These days bosses are complex and have 10-20 mechanics going on. Back then they had maybe two or three. Their difficulty mainly stemmed from very slow grinds to gear up. It might seem like it was fun in hindsight, but I doubt a lot of people would enjoy that today when they know what the alternative is.


        I think a lot (if not all) people who wish for a vanilla server is several underestimating the effect of their rose colored glasses.

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          November 9, 2011 5:14 AM

          These are my thoughts exactly.

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        November 9, 2011 5:07 AM

        People would blow through the content so fast on Vanilla servers it would be pointless. Six months to a year before BC launched I restarted on a newly launched server and we were in Molten Core in three weeks, at Ragnaros the following week, and had him dead within a few days into the following week. The only thing slowing us down was some of the dead weight we were carrying in the raid, I imagine you would have even less of that on a vanilla server focusing on raiding.

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        November 9, 2011 5:13 AM

        heavily reworked spec trees more like

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      November 9, 2011 12:29 AM

      maybe im just paranoid, but i think one of the reasons D3 was delayed is because blizzard knows there will be a large flocking to Diablo

      D3's release is inevitable, but perhaps blizz wants to wait for the next major content patch (4.3, the Deathwing raid) to give players more reasons to stay around.

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      November 9, 2011 2:27 AM

      i actually resubbed for a month -_-

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      November 9, 2011 4:15 AM

      I never played wow, but one thing I always hear is that the game gets boring once you max out your levels etc. Why doesn't blizzard put no caps on the leveling? Wouldnt it be possible to have inifite levels that get increasingly more time consuming to reach? Instanced dungeons for clans of these mega level players could be generated on the fly to challenge their uber crazy stats, loot and drops could also be generated in the same way.

      Sure it might mess with the economy of the game i guess, but if you compare it to real life there are those who are basically uber level mofos (Bill gates) and peons (Like me)

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        November 9, 2011 4:39 AM

        Leveling is just the tutorial, once you hit max level the "real game" starts, be it PvP or PvE. Infinite leveling would get boring real fast.

        Although, end game is a form of infinite leveling (but your gear or ranking, not your character), so, yeah.

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          November 10, 2011 7:44 AM

          hahaha yeah not in WoW..... but Rift... yeah at lvl 50 the REAL game begins :)

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        November 9, 2011 5:15 AM

        "Man on Internet attempts to solve complex problem with one clueless statement"

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      November 14, 2011 5:43 AM

      I knew this would happen with some of the changes the Cataclysm made - the time put in was not worth the return so people burned out. It went from challenging and fun to just frustrating - once you hit that point your average game player is going shut down and go to something else. Cataclysm still did some good things as well... unfortunately my sub ran out just when me guild was getting Cho'gall and Firelands came out so I have been out of the loop for while.


      Wrath had sweet spot for your average everyday player and Blizzard has just found out its your average everyday player that keeps WOW a turning.