Activision Blizzard stock downgraded on World of Warcraft declines

Lazard Capital Markets analyst believes age, increased competition for titanic MMOG could lead to 1.6 million-player exodus.

Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft has unequivocally dominated the subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game market since its launch in 2004. However, earlier this month, Activision Blizzard revealed that WOW subscriptions had fallen by 10 percent since March, dropping to 10.3 million worldwide.

Pandas may be WOW's only hope.

In an investor note today, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Atul Bagga expressed pessimism over WOW's ability to reverse its negative trend. In the process, Bagga downgraded Activision Blizzard's stock from "buy" to "neutral."

Bagga's move was primarily motivated by a Lazard Capital Markets survey of online players, which was conducted in conjunction with Peanut Labs earlier this month and polled 381 online gamers. The study found that WOW's age, as well as increased competition, could lead to an exodus of 900,000 to 1.6 million players following the launch of EA's Star Wars: The Old Republic in December.

To the point of WOW's age, Lazard Capital Markets' study found that 57 percent of former WOW players said that they had reached end-game content and had become "bored." As for increased competition, the study found that 43 percent of former WOW players had quit due to friends leaving for other MMOGs.

Bagga noted that Star Wars: The Old Republic, in particular, stands to gain from WOW's loosening hold on the market. Of those surveyed who are currently playing WOW, 50 percent said they plan to buy The Old Republic, with an additional 38 percent saying they may buy the game. The survey also found that 87 percent of the 95 players in the study who were participating in The Old Republic beta had already preordered or planned to preorder EA's game.

The analyst didn't completely rule out a resurgence in WOW subscribers. The study indicated that 50 percent of former WOW players would consider coming back to the game if Blizzard were to offer a special promotion. Such promotions would eat in to Activision Blizzard's bottom line, however.

Bagga also said that the game's fourth expansion, Mists of Pandaria, should yield a healthy resurgence in subscriber numbers. Of those surveyed, 33 percent of the former WOW players said they plan to resubscribe to the game upon Mists of Pandaria's launch. A release date for that expansion has not yet been announced.

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263 comments
iandavidvinoya
iandavidvinoya

I am sad that WoW is going downhill. But I am still hoping for them to catch up with this next exp.

Cozm1kaos
Cozm1kaos

@Santesyu Sorry if i offend you in any way, every gamer knows and hates when People who played the game for couple hours and judge it as it sucks. Having said that, no the game does not own me, but yes i am smart enough to rate games only and i repeat only when i have been in and out of them. You have not even raided end game yet, and collecting pets/clothing and socializing does not count. Again this is not just about WOW this is in any particular game. So please do us all a favor and stop rating games, clearly you do not know how to. And when i said "Owned you" does not literally mean OWN again if you played enough games you would understand the gamers meaning of that word =) I would suggest the game (hello kitty island adventure) Have fun kitty kat!!! =)

Cozm1kaos
Cozm1kaos

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Santesyu
Santesyu

@Cozm1kaos just because I don't like a game you assume that the game owned me? Are you that hardcore about a game, so if I don't like sony or microsoft then that company "Owned" me? Seriously? I think your comment said enough and for everyone to see excatly the sort of person you are. Thank you for clearing that up for me and everyone hun.

Cozm1kaos
Cozm1kaos

So instead of being dishonest to yourself, realize that wow owned you for 7 years, 7 years of endless nights. 7 years of entertainment =) and it if it is beaten i think it should receive the proper and honorable burial it deserves nuff said. =D

Cozm1kaos
Cozm1kaos

Funny ppl heres how it is, WOW is a great game, it kept us all playing for 7 years. Think about it...7 years of games also coming out trying to beat it, none of them did. Now yes it is really old, yes it does have out dated graphics (compared to shooters and adventure games) but MMO games have way to much content to make the graphics realy (hence Starwars)

Cozm1kaos
Cozm1kaos

@JackHoleFace00 There is no such thing, wow expansions are part 1 / 2 / 3 =)

Cozm1kaos
Cozm1kaos

@Santesyu My flamming ran out of flames? haha really? listen im not here to bash you, although you deserve it because you have know right commenting on wow if you have not even hit LVL 85. =)

JackHoleFace00
JackHoleFace00

Ok, I understand releasing a couple expansions a year or two after launch... but come on. The game is over 7 years old. SEVEN... YEARS. It's time to stop with new expansions and just come out with WoW 2. Pretty sure that, more than anything, will right the ship. I certainly hope people at Activision understand how blatantly obvious that is. Then again, with Kotick at the helm, it's only a matter before EVERY IP is milked into the ground until it goes away entirely. First Guitar Hero, next is COD, and coming up, the end of WoW (unless they ACTUALLY come out with a real sequel that doesn't have 7 year old graphics/gameplay/etc.).

Santesyu
Santesyu

@Cozm1kaos Why you mad? You dislike the fact that I don't love WoW like you do? Sweetie you seem like a pissed off WoW fan because I am not as die hard as you. You do not know me so do not pretend like you know anything about me because you do not. But nice try though, your flamming ran out of flames.

Agent-M
Agent-M

You can't milk a eight year old franchise and not expect the milk to go sour. Especially when there are younger fresher cows out there. Games like Guild Wars 2 and The Old Republic are bringing in a new age of MMORPG that make World of Warcraft seem old, repetitive and lackluster in comparison.

Cozm1kaos
Cozm1kaos

@Santesyu And one more thing, horde fav? haha i wish that was the case, need i remind you of the best racial traits? Humans?.

Cozm1kaos
Cozm1kaos

@Santesyu And i am not flaming anyone but you =) because you are one of those noob wow players who break CC, and who walk backwards to get away from AOE moves, and my all time fav is when you stand in puddles =) than get mad at the game because you just not as good at it than BAAAAM you rate it.

Cozm1kaos
Cozm1kaos

@Santesyu Exactly, a new wow player yaay!!! pfft... please.

Santesyu
Santesyu

@Cozm1kaos Stop kidding yourself I am here for the reasons why you are here because I am a gamer sweetheart, instead of trying to flame other people please check yourself first. Yes I do play WoW, I have a lvl 84 rogue called LsDarkman and 83 druid Sickboom on Shattered halls server. I can give my opinion on WoW anyway I like, if you don't like it then well tough?

cubone285
cubone285

mayyybe if they lowered the dam price a bit. would you like less paying more or more paying less? your choice acti-bliz

wolfbm
wolfbm

@Shooter125 if I could give you more than 1 thumb up I would! Yes...give us Warcraft 4!

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

WoW is on life-support and with how long it takes for Blizzard to develop a game, I don't expect to see a successor until at least 2020.

Sgthombre
Sgthombre

NO! You fools! Chuck Norris approves this game, and if you leave/bash it, you only have a matter of time before he finds you! Your days are numbered!

shakensparco
shakensparco

I'm surprised that a game so dated graphically can still keep up. Thought they would have made a WOW 2 with completely updated graphics and transferable profiles by now.

analgrin
analgrin

People are still playing WOW!? Great in its day but think its about time they pulled the plug

Albaficas
Albaficas

Cozm1kaos i played wow for 4 years and compared to my swtor beta it is crap

Albaficas
Albaficas

megakick pvp is balanced in SW but from ur previous post ur just a hater go and play ur f2p f2p games will always be crap compared to p2p wait and see

Wedge55
Wedge55

@Legkolo Largely true, however I suspect many investors see WoW as representative of Bobby Kotick's overall strategy. He's already overseen the death of Guitar Hero as that market became over saturated. The Call of Duty series is not immune to this. WoW being on the decline without a replacement in sight is going to make investors uncomfortable. Titan was still in pre-production when Starcraft 2 launched, so maybe 2014 release at the earliest. Who knows if subscription MMOs will still be viable at that point (this is one area though where SWTOR could actually help Activision Blizzard in the long run).

megakick
megakick

SW:TOR will be balanced? HAHAHA ok. If you want balanced PVP wait for GW2 it will be the best of the 3. GW and GW2 has been in the works for years. SW: OR will get old to if you going in thinking SW:OR will be epic you will be very dissappointed. All MMORPGS are made to be a grind its' how companies make money.

Legkolo
Legkolo

The analyst made the mistake assuming WoW is the only thing on Activision Blizzard's plate (that thing is 7 years old and still making money, the company is just trying to milk that cow dry). While WoW is probably the most profitable portion of the company, they underestimated the up coming release from Blizzard, D3, which expect to release next year and given Blizzard's track record, its sales definitely will not disappoint. In addition, Blizzard is already working on the next MMO 'titan', though that might be years. Furthermore, given how well MW3 sale was, Activision can just keep pumping it out yearly (sales is not a great measure of how good the game is, but we are talking about stocks and making money). Now, because of this analyst report, Activision Blizzard's stock may expect to drop. Thus, this makes a perfect time to buy in.

Cozm1kaos
Cozm1kaos

@Santesyu I really do not think you have even played wow, why are you even on here?

fredwv
fredwv

Played Wow for 5 years. I was so bored near the end that all I did was farm gold. Got banned for that. Can't wait for Star Wars. The heck with WoW. I ain't ever coming back.

strayfies
strayfies

They confused their own direction too much with Cataclysm, and it's not the first time. Old players like me are wondering why the mixed signals, and new players are probably gonna steer for smaller, but more densely populated games - if not free-to-play. I wish they'd pull the plug. We had some good times, I was there for the MMO's launch and I loved the Warcraft series since like 1995. It's depressing to see it peak, and it's even worse to see it decay.

Santesyu
Santesyu

Most WoW players do not want the upcoming expansion but does Blizz care? nope. That and I personally disliked WoW because of there Horde Favoritism atleast not make it obvious, this is why they are failing..there customers are tired of it. SWTOR will be and always be balanced, even though there are times of peace neither side really truly wins. Its always a struggle from beginning to end.

Shidira
Shidira

I loved vanilla WoW, and even enjoyed Burning Crusade, but it was with this first expansion that saw the rise of the casual MMO'er, forcing Blizzard to make raids/instances easier and pretty much giving out epics. I understand the market for the "casual" player is much bigger and where the money's at, but when it was difficult to get your gear, the raids were hard, and the gear made a much bigger impact, that's when I feel WoW was funnest.

shooters125
shooters125

If Blizzard wants to save Warcraft then they need to make Warcraft 4.

Raven_Lord
Raven_Lord

I'm not in that 33 percent, that's certain. I don't mind low-spec graphics, but the content feels more and more regurgitated. I have zero inclination to go back to the 'phat l00t - get epikz or get out' treadmill.

eddyoshi
eddyoshi

@Chickenesta for me it died the second i played it

eddyoshi
eddyoshi

AH HA i wondered how long it would take for people to realise that wow is bad, just buy skrim or the old republic once it comes out

maxwell97
maxwell97

Maybe it's time for an actual sequel, already. I mean, it's been 7 years, after all.

Hobbes444
Hobbes444

Time for Warcraft to come to an end, I never particuarly enjoyed anyway, I was more of a RuneScape guy, much cheaper to play (it's free unless you want a bunch of extra stuff you hardly notice is available.) I always refer to Activision-Blizzard as, Activision, people know who you're talking about that way :)

JimmyJimJim
JimmyJimJim

and I still don't care. atvi is the most boring stock in the world, it's sat in the 11 to 13 dollar range for a year and a half.

J_Dangerously
J_Dangerously

All things must come to an end. Even Warcraft.

Vamp14
Vamp14

Eevn when WoWs player abse is shrinking I dont think SWTOR will be a WoW killer. If somene doesnt like Star Wars why should he play SWTOR

cdodo
cdodo

For new players wow is way to overwhelming it has 85 levels, and like 99 zones by now and no sane person wants to jump into that. The largest problem is that anyone who wanted to try wow have already done so. No amount of 4.3 patches or pandas will get you a 'new' player base, you'll be lucky to retain your old users. Even with the launch of cata, and its all new 1-60 content, no one started wow unless they've played before.

vault-boy
vault-boy

@DashRender619 ya... um no. D3 is going to have real world trading so its automatically going to be bad. I don't want to have to pay extra money to get the full experience of a game, that's why I don't play Sims and why I wont be getting near Diablo 3.

Mankub
Mankub

WoW has let itself stagnate and will likely not gain back its market share. My main reason for leaving shortly after Cataclysm was that it felt like the developers weren't even trying to hide the time sinks and grind behind fun and adventure anymore. I began to feel like a rat in a Skinner Box, hitting the button and hoping the cheese would drop. Towards the end I found I would log in and do the exact same thing every day: log in, couple dailies, random dungeon, AH, log out, rinse, repeat the next day. They stripped the social out and anything else that wasn't related to grinding for gear and are just now starting to feel its effects, but it's a big ship and before they will be able to steer it back on course, many more will leave. It's a typical story: developer releases game they put heart and soul into, become successful, get bought up in huge corporate merger, lose company culture, find crazy deadlines and goals, delay other projects to concentrate on cash cow, lose soul, lose success.

megakick
megakick

Blizzard needs to try harder maybe make a new IP instead of the same over and over. Even WOW is a spin off of Warcraft heroes.

sonicare
sonicare

It's a seven year old game. What do they expect?

Gov1
Gov1

PANDAS!? SERIOUSLY!? I WANT NAGA!

PipeBigboss
PipeBigboss

So far I am seeing that Blizzard is a bit worried, losing 1.6 million players is huge. They are saying that they have 10 millions but you need to remove the inactive ones I doubt that they always have 10 million players per month if that were true then they wouldm't be worriying for losing 1.6 because they bussiness stills profitable and they would have the resources to update the game often and with fresh ideas, I don't know HOW a Panda could save WoW. Also if all you see they created a "starter edition" free that means they are worried and need to gather fresh players. If SWTOR is taking their players means that the game is failing in diversion and updates

Kelvryn
Kelvryn

I'm enjoying a the new 4.3 patch and waiting for SWTOR to begin. Playing one does not preclude the other.

joshedge
joshedge

People got 1 new raid after 7 months and 2 recycled dungeons... now finally 4.3 is out.. but no one cares anymore.

halojp23
halojp23

gw2 and starwars will hurt wow bad