World of Warcraft subs fall to 8.3 million

Subscriber base for aging MMO dips 1.3 million in three months; Activision Blizzard posts $456 million profit on $1.32 billion in revenue for Q1.

Gamers are continuing to exit Azeroth. Activision Blizzard announced today that as of March 31, World of Warcraft has 8.3 million subscribers, down from 9.6 million at the end of 2012.

According to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, World of Warcraft subscriber declines were mainly from the East, but the Western market also made an impact, he said in a statement. He further explained that subscriber figures are expected to fall throughout the year.

Despite the subscriber attrition, World of Warcraft remains the number one subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game, according to Activision.

By comparison, Electronic Arts' Star Wars: The Old Republic has fewer than 500,000 subscribers as of March 31.

The news comes as part of Activision Blizzard's first quarter earnings report, which saw the publisher post $456 million in profit on $1.32 billion in revenue for the three-month period ended March 31.

Kotick said that though the year has gotten off to a solid start, there is reason to be skeptical about Activision Blizzard's prospects for the second half of the year.

"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," Kotick said in prepared remarks. "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."

These issues are cause for concern, Kotick said. However, he also acknowledged that Activision Blizzard will be able to deliver shareholder value by employing the same tactics that has made the company one of the industry's biggest publishers for the past 20 years.

"For these reasons, we remain cautious," he said. "However, our focused and disciplined approach to our business has served us well in the past, and through continued investment and careful management of our costs, we expect to continue delivering shareholder value over the long term as we have for the last 20 years.”

Activision is currently holding a post-earnings financial call.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Want the latest news about World of Warcraft?

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft

Discussion

494 comments
Bryjoered07
Bryjoered07

Wow will not die until blizzard comes out with another mmo. It still has 8.3 million subscribers after 10 years, this should be proof enough.

johnwck90
johnwck90

It was announced that Rift will be free to play in June, so that will be another quality free-to-play wow-clone with a recent and extensive expansion so you have to wonder whether the market can support pay-to-play for much longer.  Surely, if you are wanting to play a cooperative online rpg then you will play between expansions for the new content of each mmo?  WoW is lucky in that it has a vast adolescent player base whose parents pay the fee maybe that will be sufficient to make their business model viable but in terms of future games it will be interesting to see whether the market will support their new project as pay-to-play.  Same with Elder Scrolls Online which I am now finding difficult to justify paying to play.  I paid to play Star Wars The Old Republic when it came out because I accepted the pay-to-play model as a necessity of the genre but now I don't.  I played the Dragon's Age Beta last night, it's not great, but it's operational and eventually surely the market conditions will be such that they undermine any rationale for paying when we've all seen the genre well executed and developed in each expansion of each product.

philMcCrevis
philMcCrevis

please god please let this raging piece of chit die its long overdue death.  how many lives has this garbage ruined over the years....you get a copy of the game as a high school graduation gift...you wake up 32 years old one day and realize...OMFG I WoW'd my 20's away!  sad chit mate

PcGamingRig
PcGamingRig

even if it was to stabilize at like 5 million, they may have lost a lot of subscribers but they would still be way ahead. this game was always going to lose subscribers at some point due to its age.

colt_a
colt_a

9.6 million from end of 2012 to 8.3 million currently is over 200,000 sub losses per month.

Excellent.  Once WoW dies there can be real competition in the MMO market again.

ardent163
ardent163

15 x 8.3 million... So now they're only making, generally, around $124,500,000 a month from store purchases and subscriptions.


I suck at math, but it doesn't take a math wiz to realize that 8.3 million subscribers is a FREAKING LOT OF MONEY for game development.

spindie
spindie

W.O.W subs fall to 8.3 million? Thats like saying poor justin bieber has to settle for F-18 Private jet instead of newer model F-19

jerusaelem
jerusaelem

What a coincidence that so many subs are dropping roughly one year after the "Pay for 12 months of WoW in advance, and get a free copy of Diablo 3" promotion. It's amazing what giving away one of the most eagerly anticipated games of all time will do to boost subs. Especially when your next expansion takes place in the worlds gaudiest Chinese gift shop and revolves almost exclusively around stupid fucking panda bears.

rann89
rann89

WoW is a terrible game and old. That's why they're stuck with a measly 8.3 million subs... only 7.8million more than the nearest competition lol.

Meta_Dragon
Meta_Dragon

"and subscriber declines in our World of Warcraft business"
Uhm no Kotick, Blizzard's WoW. You had nothing to do with it. Stop taking credit for games you had no part in.

Eraldus
Eraldus

Euzeth is the one behind it! (I take only a few will understand this)

Danituga
Danituga

lol if it doensn't turn into free to play the number of subs will countinue to drop 

constantin
constantin

Star Wars the Old Republic has fewer than 500,000 users !?! But it has lightsabers and voice acting .... I bet WoW subscribers are all asian  -__-

hough06
hough06

WoW has been played out and is expected to keep declining as the years go on. With the "explosion" of F2P games on the market, WoW and several other "subscription" based games are going to take a hit. 

The hardest thing for a lot of game developers is seeing where the market is going. Will F2P be the future just like everyone said MMO would be 5 years ago at the height of WoW era?

Personally, I'm not sure what will win the battle. With the economy finally "regaining" some strength gamers may have a few extra dollars to spend but not enough to send WoW 13 bucks a month or other MMO sub games. I seriously think we'll see the re-entry of Retro / Indie games. Nothing more than 10 dollars eating up a lot of market shares. Just look at how successful Super Meatboy was and similar games like that. It's the Dark Horse of the race.



Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

I literally played for a week and I gave up.  Got tired of high levels running around me with no help and spending hours "figuring it out on my own"

Albaficas
Albaficas

next expansion

2 races,alliance kangoroo

            horde rooster


classes kickboxing

            capoiera

moniso
moniso

Come on Blizzzzzard, make a new warcraft not wow.

Personally I see that the income from the number of subscribers way exceeds the cost of developing a new game.

Psil0X
Psil0X

People still play this?

Edwin_3D
Edwin_3D

The best MMO out there now is called "The Infinite Black", not WoW.

tim1935
tim1935

They spent 2 yrs developing pandas and it only kept their audience engaged for a few months. I don't see how they can keep up with the user hemorrhaging with time tradeoffs like that.

Thathanka
Thathanka

Who cares?  Vanilla WoW was special, Burning Crusade was excellent.  After that it's been a gradual dumbing down and homogenization.  I stopped playing 4 and a half years ago and never regretted it.  

Meanwhile Eveonline turns 10 years old and is still going from strength to strength.

Sefrix
Sefrix moderator

I blame global warming. 

DeafJerzy
DeafJerzy

Yes! I hope this should resume falling down. (FFXI ftw)

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

I always think of Azeroth the same way I think of the Matrix.

"Why do my eyes hurt?"

"Because you've been hopelessly addicted to the same magic fairy-land computer game for eight years of your life".

megakick
megakick

Game is old and still doing well..

jesusismyhomie
jesusismyhomie

I've always wanted a Starcraft MMO ever since WoW came out. But I don't know how that would work.

bi0hazard187949
bi0hazard187949

WOW is still the #1 MMO, so many games still tried to be it. (SWTOR, Warhammer). Many have failed. Now to bring more gamers back to WOW, they just need to launch WOW2.

stefip
stefip

I think this shows how shortsighted their CEO is. This raises concerns? Really? What were you expecting, it's a miracle the game is still number 1 MMO after 8 years, and not a single other has come even close in number of subscribers, but, obvious to anyone but this guy, that can't last forever, and instead for planning out in the future how to compensate this, he sounds like he wasn't expecting this at all ...(?)

Mausingen
Mausingen

Game simply isn't worth 13 euro a month. It's just clicking for more and more people that this is daylight robbery.

10drxtc
10drxtc

@constantin you got that one way wrong..It is mostly American/canadian and european..Asians are fickle with games and will play what ever is currently popular..

Saketume
Saketume

@constantin Yeah if they added lightsabers to WoW they'd probably only have 500k users left too.

10drxtc
10drxtc

@hough06 And agian I must ask someone, have you ever played a F2P game? because if you did then you would know only certain content is available free..Also to keep up with other top players can easily run you $100/mo and much more..That is almost a year of wow..

10drxtc
10drxtc

@Albaficas Looks like a game avatar as your profile picture..I guess you are just jealous our game is better..

10drxtc
10drxtc

@Edwin_3D what is that? I have heard of WoW, PSO, Everquest, Diablo, FF 11, Ultima and a few others, but I have never heard of infinite Black..

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

@tim1935 

I still can't believe they called it "Pandaria" with a straight face.  What a half-assed attempt...

Iddhi
Iddhi

@bi0hazard187949 They won't bring out WoW2 while they can still flog a dime out of the dying horse that is WoW. In fact I don't think they'll bring out another WoW, because they probably realise that nothing will be as successful these days.

However WildStar is looking to be as close to WoW2 as anything since.

Zeran_kariashi
Zeran_kariashi

@10drxtc @hough06 No...those are Allegedly free to play games (that are actually Pay to Win)....actual free-to-play is just that. The full game, with just cosmetic items or physical merchandise for sell. 

Path of Exile having the current best representation of that format, where all their cash-shop items are literally cosmetic in function and non-tradeable (no effect on the in-game market, like a lot of cash-shop items do) (new spell animations, glows, vanity gear, etc and unlike most other companies, they can be removed from items/spells and reused at no penalty. The only stipulation is, is that each purchase only entitles you to 1 active version of that effect at a time across the whole account. So if you dual-wield and want glows for both weapons, you'll have to buy 2 copies of the glow. And if you make a new character and want to move the vanity effects to them, you'll have to remove them from the other character first....but..it's completely fair IMO. They're working on making plenty of safe-guards to ensure that you can't accidentally delete/sell items or characters with vanity effects (and are perfectly willing to restore them if you do manage to do so).

Other games also come close, offering nothing in the cash shop you can't earned through normal play, but sometimes the amount of grinding required to unlock or acquire said options pretty heavily implies you should be spending money instead.


Mabinogi is a game that's been a quite a roller-coaster in that regard...originally being a glorified free trial..and eventually becoming more or less free to play (a couple free mounts, a free rebirth at age 20, unlocking all the chapter content to free players...though they still have their issues). Inflation is ridiculous due to trade-able cash shop items (which also affects your ability to play as certain skills require collection of limited duration book pages and the rarer pages tend to be extremely expensive..of which you may have to buy multiple copies due to running out of time before collecting them all), and the fact only people paying for service can set up shops (and use most bags, and access their full bank inventory) (free-players have to spam the party channel to sell anything...during the free VIP month a while back, I made more in 1 hour with my Kiosk then I did in a month of trying to sell goods without service and was able to do so repeatedly for the entire play time)...and they actually removed the ability for free players to buy farmland to make money (which was what it originally was created for) due to being over-run by bots (which also destroyed Commerce as a money maker).

Adding insult to injury, the US is the only version of the game that still has to pay for basic inventory service (every other version gets the basic package permanently for free now...with includes shops, full bank, and the ability to use bags).

GenomeSoldierDK
GenomeSoldierDK

 @10drxtc @northArrow @bi0hazard187949 @Mausingen 
x10 as expensive as WoW? - seriously? - If you've played WoW for a year - it's 12x more expensive than any game that's free to play, given you just pay 1$ for it. The first month it's 15$ so already there it's 15x as expensive as any free game. 

Nobody forces you to buy anything in those F2P games. And in GW2 these "competitive purchases" you describe are none-existant.

GenomeSoldierDK
GenomeSoldierDK

@10drxtc @northArrow There are a lot of claims in this message that have been stated without substantial evidence. 
First of all: "Guild Wars 2 is nowhere as good as WoW?" - why is it not better? What do you base this claim on? Empirical evidence? 

"GW2 is not a true F2P game" - yes it is, in the sense that after you've perchased it requires no subscribtion fees. 

10drxtc
10drxtc

@northArrow @10drxtc I never mentioned either of those games..But I do play   Guild wars 2 and it is nowhere as good in anyway as WoW..and TOR i have never heard of...If you want an example of a F2P game that will easily cost you more than$100/mo just to keep up (not counting money you need to catch up) is called "Ministry of War"..their are other all building games that take lots of time where you build armies..And yes you guessed it those who pay have stronger cities/armies...you might want to look into it..And like I said I play GW2 and it is not a true F2P game (thought it does have microtransactions, but only for vanity stuff..

northArrow
northArrow

@10drxtc I literally have no idea what you're talking about. I've played both GW2 and even the very scummy F2P system in TOR and I have spent nowhere near $15 a month on either of them. I never even spent a penny in GW2 (beyond the original box).

Go ahead and keep justifying $15 a month for nothing in return. It is your money

10drxtc
10drxtc

@northArrow @bi0hazard187949 @Mausingen No it's not..You have no idea what you are talking about..I have played a few F2P games and they were not nearly as good as WoW..They also were 10x as expensive as they might be free but to stay competitive you have to buy special in game currency and buy power ups or for the RPG type games you have to buy the purple gear..just 1 character can cost well over $100 per month to keep up with everyone else..But hey it's your money so you have the right to waste it..