World of Warcraft subscribers down 13%; Activision concerned

A slight bump in subscription numbers for World of Warcraft after the launch of the Mists of Pandaria expansion has disappeared, with number now at 8.3 million, down from 9.6 million at the end of Q4 last last year, Activision announced in its latest earning report for Q1 2013.

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A slight bump in subscription numbers for World of Warcraft after the launch of the Mists of Pandaria expansion has disappeared. Subscription numbers for the MMO now stand at 8.3 million, down from 9.6 million at the end of Q4 last last year, Activision announced in its latest earning report for Q1 2013.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said during the earning conference call that the company is "concerned" by the drop. "While we have had a solid start to the year, we now believe that the risks and uncertainties in the back half of 2013 are more challenging than our earlier view, especially in the holiday quarter," he told investors in a prepared statement. "The shift in release dates of competing products, the disappointing launch of the Wii U, uncertainties regarding next-generation hardware, and subscriber declines in our World of Warcraft business all raise concerns, as do continued challenges in the global economy."

Regarding World of Warcraft, Kotick believes they can slow down subscriber churn by "releasing new content more frequently," although he admits that numbers will still be down by the end of the year, citing additional competition from free-to-play games. Additionally, "we want to make it easier for lapsed players to get back into the game."

Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime agreed, saying the part of the drop has been an increase in competition in China from more free-to-play games, and a decrease in the number of casual players. He also said that when casual players return, the company needs to make it easier for them to do so.

"It is important to use the transition from when players leave and then come back to make the experience less overwhelming," he said. Blizzard plans to continue looking at player behavior and preferences when creating and releasing content updates, one of which is coming later this month. "People consume content quickly. We need to create more innovative content to keep people engaged."

Contributing Editor
From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 8, 2013 1:55 PM

    John Keefer posted a new article, World of Warcraft subscribers down 13%; Activision concerned.

    A slight bump in subscription numbers for World of Warcraft after the launch of the Mists of Pandaria expansion has disappeared, with number now at 8.3 million, down from 9.6 million at the end of Q4 last last year, Activision announced in its latest earning report for Q1 2013.

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      May 8, 2013 1:56 PM

      Still impressive numbers, and really not all that surprising, considering the game is almost 9 years old, now.

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        May 8, 2013 2:11 PM

        Mists of Pandaria was kind of a dud compared to Cataclysm IMO. That Blizzard felt they "lost their way" with Cata is particularly disheartening since it was so much better than MoP.

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          May 8, 2013 2:25 PM

          I played cata to 85 and did heroics. It wasn't any fun. I came back and enjoyed pandaria a lot more. Even tho I quit playing again, I stayed longer and enjoyed it more than I did with Cata. I would agree that LFR is pretty bland. But it's kinda the point. LFR isn't for raiders. It's for casuals who just wanna see the content and/or get some decent gear.

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            May 8, 2013 2:37 PM

            I don't really have an opinion on LFR as I don't mess with it much. I dislike almost all of the 5-man content, and I dislike that prior to 90 you're limited to only 4(?) instances. The quests are tedious, the dailies are tedious, the move towards dailies and away from tabards as a major way of generating rep is tedious. Everything is really pretty, just not fun.

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            May 8, 2013 2:47 PM

            The problem with LFR is that you don't "see the content" really. At least to me, it felt like the end of Cata LFR stuff was far more "see the content, only it's easier" than now. Nowadays, LFR feels far more like just a really long dungeon with 25 people because of how much it's been neutered from normal.

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          May 8, 2013 2:30 PM

          MOP was much better than Cata tho....

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        May 8, 2013 6:21 PM

        If you count from the peak of about 12 mil to 8 mil, you're looking at closer to a 30% drop.

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      May 8, 2013 2:00 PM

      oh noes, only 8.3 million! what shaaall we dooooooo

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      May 8, 2013 2:04 PM

      F2P or bust, I liked LOTROs F2P model if WoW every changed to something similar I would try it again, although I haven't played wow since 2007

    • kek legacy 10 years
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      May 8, 2013 2:08 PM

      I need more 5 man content. 25 man LFR Is boring to me. I feel like our success or failure has nothing to do with me.

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      May 8, 2013 2:10 PM

      They should make it like DayZ with permadeath, and random leg breaking, and random perma leg breaking death.

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        May 8, 2013 3:11 PM

        I'd go back to WoW for an FFA server.

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        May 8, 2013 6:26 PM

        yeah I really hope the persistence without consequence model of MMO goes away, or at least stops being basically the only kind of MMO people will play.

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          May 9, 2013 1:50 AM

          good luck, most mmos are going this way because it's the way most people want to play.

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      May 8, 2013 2:19 PM

      Not sure how they plan on getting lapsed subs back. I played Vanilla through CAT, wasn't a fan of many of the changes starting in WOTLK and it pretty much got less appealing from there. I've logged a couple times to check out MoP and I'm honestly not sure what they'd have to do to make that particularly interesting again. It's still a decent game but one I have very little interest in ever playing again given where it is currently.

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        May 8, 2013 2:32 PM

        The only way to get lapsed players back is to drop another expansion. I also don't think there is any new blood left they could recruit, so the only way to increase subs would be to get lapsed players back. At this point you've either played it or never will

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          May 8, 2013 7:18 PM

          There are more gamers now than at any other point in human history; WoW's numbers are lagging because the game just isn't very compelling anymore.

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      May 8, 2013 2:19 PM

      oh my god shut it down they're doomed with only 20 times the subscribers of other mmo's.

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      May 8, 2013 2:20 PM

      Maybe they should put Jay Wilson on it.

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      May 8, 2013 2:33 PM

      Time for them to contract Clay...work needs to be done.

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      May 8, 2013 2:39 PM

      Activision is concerned that a 9 year old game is losing steam?

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        May 8, 2013 2:48 PM

        I kinda in my don't-know-what-the-fuck-at-all way that maybe that concern points to any possible ongoing development of a WoW follow up, or even just future expansions, being a total fucking disaster. They know their once-in-a-lifetime mega-hit is aging and aren't confident of retaining or reacquiring the playerbase with future product.

        of course there's the actual reality that any news that comes out of publishers and studios today are totally crafted half-truths and outright lies, and saying that is somehow in their opinion a sort of 'current WoW player attitude control' mechanism.

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          May 8, 2013 5:59 PM

          Also remember that this announcement is from a fiscal year earnings call, so the message is further massaged to make investors not panic.

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        May 8, 2013 2:58 PM

        It is still one of their biggest money makers.

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        May 8, 2013 7:19 PM

        It's a 9 year old game that's been continuously updated with a lot of new content.

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        May 9, 2013 4:19 AM

        And 8.3 million is still a fucking huge cash cow, even with a dev team of 100. Things will pick up again if the next expansion is enticing enough.

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      May 8, 2013 2:45 PM

      Lower the subscription price to 9.95, announce plans of WoW 2.0 or a World of Starcraft to get people pumped up again for the next "it" mmo.

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        May 8, 2013 2:46 PM

        really not a bad idea. well except for world of startcraft.

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        May 8, 2013 4:01 PM

        I haven't played WOW in almost 4years, but if the Sub was cheaper I would come back as a Casual Player.

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          May 8, 2013 5:46 PM

          yea me too to be honest. Im not sure if $9.99/month would be the magic number for me to just subscribe and not care about it though...

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        May 8, 2013 6:05 PM

        I would become a shartist if they announced Worlds of Starcraft.

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      May 8, 2013 2:55 PM

      I know I'm in the minority here, but when they changed the skill system (getting rid of the skill trees) and made them like the ones in Diablo 3, I lost interest and never came back.

      They're not that important to the typical WoW player I guess, and I always played very casually.. but they had my dollars for 6 years anyway. I experimented a lot and found it fun to make odd builds for world pvp, but then I couldn't do that anymore.

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      May 8, 2013 2:56 PM

      I dropped my sub during MoP beta. I played beta for a while and it was really the same old crap all over again. Now with so many buy once play forever mmo's and f2p mmo's, I don't really feel like going back to Wow if they keep this up.

      I just started playing EQ again because of their recent change to f2p where you can be any class/race combination, and I'm having fun.

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        May 8, 2013 8:18 PM

        Can't wait to see EQ Next on PS2 Engine.

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        May 8, 2013 8:18 PM

        Can't wait to see EQ Next on PS2 Engine.

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      May 8, 2013 3:01 PM

      The City of Heroes, Guild Wars 2, and Rift > World of Warcrafts. RiP City of Heroes :*(

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        May 9, 2013 4:20 AM

        City of Heroes was kinda MMO light. Nice enough but never enjoyed it that much. GW2 is all PvP once you cap. Rift I couldn't get into, felt massively familiar and generic.

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        May 9, 2013 4:46 AM

        I played a bunch of GW2 (not the others) and I'd rate WoW over it. GW2 was fun for a while but WoW has become such a fine tuned machine. Of course, they've had the time to change and tweak things to get to that point. I'm also a little biased because the lack of world PvP in GW2 (by which I mean running around questing in the normal world and facing other enemy players) for me makes things a little dull at times.

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      May 8, 2013 3:06 PM

      <s>I can understand their concern that's only 124.5 million in revenue per month from this one product. </s>

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        May 8, 2013 3:11 PM

        they make much less than that. you are using US prices. In China the rates are $4.50 or something for a prepaid card

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      May 8, 2013 5:50 PM

      I just resubbed. Been having fun.

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      May 8, 2013 6:24 PM

      8.3 mil subscribers after 8.5 years? Boo-fucking-hoo.

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        May 9, 2013 3:35 AM

        It's still at 2-3x the highest any other MMO ever managed to achieve. And those who got there only stayed for a couple of months or a year tops. So I agree, they shouldn't really be crying over this. ;)

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          May 9, 2013 4:23 AM

          Indeed, still a phenomenal outlier.

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      May 8, 2013 6:27 PM

      Most of the losses were from the Asian market, which has a different pricing scheme and has much slimmer profit margin than the subscription model that the West uses. The actual impact on the bottom line is way less than 13%.

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      May 8, 2013 6:57 PM

      I think we're seeing a good slice of what would've happened a year ago were it not for the free copy of Diablo III that came with a year-long commitment to remain subscribed to WoW. A LOT of people took advantage of that offer, myself included

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      May 8, 2013 7:52 PM

      I think a decade from now, whatever is the in thing WoW will still be maintained but no longer updated. It'll be a place for people to go and play for however long and it'll maintain maybe a few million at a lower subscription so that people are willing to play it along with whatever else Blizzard is running. Hell it would be sweet if Blizzard has a tier option to subscribe to their new MMO and have one account to play on WoW as a perk. Kind of like when Sony had Station access for Planet side, SWG, and Everquest 2 in one subscription.

      Still it be interesting to see how WoW will exist in 10 years, I bet it still will in some way.

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        May 8, 2013 8:26 PM

        Resubbing to WoW gets you a horde skin for your CoD weapons.

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        May 9, 2013 3:28 AM

        Yeah, I mean, EQ1 is still running, isn't it?

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          May 9, 2013 4:25 AM

          So is Meridian 59, although the last few years it seems to have gone open source and fully free to play. But it came out four years before EQ and was never as big, but it's still around.

          Think I'll have to download it and give it a spin, for old times sake. :) I had my name in the instruction manual for beta testing that game. Open betas wasn't really that big back then so they could include everyone in print! :P

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          May 9, 2013 4:31 AM

          Yup, 19 expansions, last was Nov 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EverQuest#Expansions

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          May 9, 2013 4:50 AM

          Ultima Online is still running too. http://www.uo.com/article/Producer-Letter

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          May 9, 2013 6:14 AM

          Yeah exactly. Also some defunct ones have gone into the hands of the people like Asheron's Call which I think is still running even though the studio went kaput. I also heard Allegiance went open too which I keep wanting to try.

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          May 9, 2013 6:16 AM

          The Realm Online too!

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      May 9, 2013 3:19 AM

      Still resisting the urge. But lord I wanna play this bitch again...

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      May 9, 2013 5:51 AM

      Why concerned, cant stay on top forever. LOL.

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        May 9, 2013 5:52 AM

        It probably still IS on top

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          May 9, 2013 6:19 AM

          they are by a long shot i think

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      May 9, 2013 6:34 AM

      it's almost been 10 years. they had to expect a drop off at some point. I'm hoping it drops to 0 so they can release a sequel

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      May 12, 2013 9:00 AM

      They made too many changes. They should have expected that might bother a few (million) people.

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