World of Warcraft subscribers slide, as Activision Blizzard sees profit fall 35 percent

Aging MMO sees subscribers fall from 7.8 million to 7.6 million, as total profit dips dramatically to $293 million.

Activision today reported earnings for the quarter ended March 31, revealing that World of Warcraft subscribers fell modestly while total profit took a substantial hit, dipping 35 percent from $456 million to $293 million.

Overall, Activision Blizzard net revenue was $772 million for the quarter, down from $804 million this time last year. A bright spot on Activision Blizzard's earnings sheet for the quarter was its digital revenue, which made up a whopping 68 percent of total revenue. That's a quarterly record.

Other highlights from Activision Blizzard's earnings release today include:

  • Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition launching for "console" later this year. It's been confirmed for PS4, but not Xbox One.
  • World of Warcraft subscribers have fallen from 7.8 million to 7.6 million.
  • Gamers have already pre-purchased more than 1 million copies of World of Warcraft expansion Warlords of Draenor.
  • Warlords of Draenor is expected to launch in the "back half" of 2014.
  • Destiny preorders are close to setting records for a new IP.
  • Activision believes "shared-world" shooter will become a major new genre, led by Destiny.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said he's optimistic about the company's outlook in the upcoming year, thanks in part to Bungie's $500 million game, Destiny.

"We have a strong product pipeline for the balance of the year, beginning with the September 9th planned launch of Destiny, which we believe could become our next billion dollar franchise and the largest new videogame IP launch in history," he said.

Activision Blizzard is currently holding a call to discuss these results and answer analyst and media questions. Check back later for more.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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96 comments
epicsymphony
epicsymphony

$293 million is still a lot of money, and with that amount they should better the game, or just create something that will be refreshing for the new players and the old ones (me) who have stopped.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

Come on a 10yrs old mmo game with 7.6 million and 1/4 billion profit is still doing amazingly fine, especially considering it costs little of what it takes in to run the game. 

Though WoW does need to think about WoW 2 or whatever next big mmo that will retire its flagship in the future. 

jerusaelem
jerusaelem

6+ months with no new content at the tail end of their lamest, panda-centric expansion to date? I'm impressed the subs haven't HALVED in the last 6 months to be honest. 

rhymesmatter
rhymesmatter

Meh don't worry blizzard...As a genuine fan and sub of swtor i can say this: You many bleed even 50% of your subs and still your game will be considered the grandest of the MMO RPGs . Not mentioned the most subbed!YES even with a 50%!! So don't cry about a mere 35%er you are good...

Zelda187
Zelda187

That's still more than 5 times as many subscribers as the next in line MMO.


Besides, that number is going to jump up exponentially once Warlords of Draenor comes out

hyru99
hyru99

Honestly I thought WoW was showing the begining of its end by the slowly decrease in numbers. But a couple of things people need to understand right now about WoW as of right now. Blizzard didn't make the smartest move by NOT putting in new content for a while (from what I understand a year or close to?). Obviously this is going to drop numbers dramatically because why would we play the same old content, farm for loots, when WoD is coming out soon and make the armor and weapons worthless? (For crying out loud the green loot rewards you get from quest will make the purple epics you farmed so much for look like trash.) They unsubscribe and wait for expansion.


Secondly, Blizz is redoing the old character models and replacing them with better looking ones and adding new animations. The new xpansion also looks like they are trying to go back to core Warcraft content without cutesy pandas. This will surely make the numbers rise if even by a little bit.


When you do the numbers, people don't factor in little things like these, they only focus on the "age". Well I have played some f2p games, and their content and graphics have not really show WoW up by any means. New pay to play games also, keep falling short, when they promise to take out WoW.

voreo
voreo

Its the in between expansion time, this is pretty normal to happen.
WoD launches, probably be up 2 million again xD

Algearond
Algearond

Good. This trainwreck should have been put out of it's misery years ago.

AzatiS
AzatiS

"" total profit dips dramatically to $293 million "" 


Dramatically they made 300million !! lol... Thats some great number there that you sound like they are on the brick of shut down the servers ... As long as they making so many millions , its all good ...Theyll still have Ferraris dont worry about it.

nik13pav
nik13pav

Ok Blizzard you want to talk with numbers? Here we go:

First of all, Blizzard itself announced that Mists of Pandaria sold 2.7 million copies (digital and physical both) in the first weekend while Wrath of the Lich King sold 2.8 million copies in 1 day. Nevermind that much less people are playing now hence the number difference, but mind telling me how there are 7.6 million subscribers? 

Furthermore I truly cannot believe that another 4.9 million copies were sold after the game was released because most high level players bought MoP to keep progress with the game. WoW isn't game that you play the old expansion (Cataclysm) and buy the new expansion later just to either save some money or upgrade his/her gear a little more before moving on to the new areas. 

Yes I believe there are players that joined WoW and bought it and its' expansion after the week I mentioned before but it's nowhere near the 7.6 million Blizzard indicates. If I had to be optimistic I'd say the subs are 3.5 million maximum, which is not what I personally believe it is but let us leave it at that.

I do not know a single person playing WoW at the moment even though most of them were what most people say elitists so believe me when I say that I do not trust/believe these numbers. We all know Blizzard very well and we know what it's capable of to do and to say.

Finally, before I post this I want everyone playing WoW or not know that I really don't mean disrespect. I do not want to be rude to anyone so if I did sound like that I apologize.

Kindly, nik13pav.

BSC14
BSC14

WoW haters can just keep on with the hate....but please tell me of another 10 year old MMO with even 2 million players paying a sub.


Yeah...

isv666
isv666

A lot of people like to trash talk Blizzard or WoW, but those are still impressive numbers.  Especially given the age of the product.  Sure, it's not at its peak like it was a few years ago with, what, 12, 14 million?  But still, impressive.  People keep saying "they need to go F2P!!"  But why?  If they're still making a killing, that's just pointless and could do more damage than not.


Whether you love or hate WoW, they are a juggernaut in the MMO industry.  They helped establish it to what it is today.  No, they weren't the first nor will they be the last.  But they learned from those before them and made it their own and established something iconic.  It's one reason so many MMOs fail today.  They want to purely copy without actually putting any heart and soul into it and making it their own.

Hurvl
Hurvl

Digital revenue made up 68 percent of total revenue? Woah, that's huge! Blizzard is mostly a PC games company, but that's still a great amount.

3dmatrixgamer
3dmatrixgamer

WoW is still alive after 10 years but HalfLife is dead.

emperiox
emperiox

This problem could be rectified easily with an annual pass...but that actually makes sense so they won't do it.

Hakkology
Hakkology

I don't understand these numbers. Tried the game last month, there were five people in Orgrimmar and thats it.

The game is in such a crippled shape right now it doesn't make sense.

I guess those numbers don't represent Europeans much.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

I've been fancying a go back in WoW. 7.6 million is hardly a small number still is it?

Keithy211
Keithy211

It amazes me how this game is still P2P and can go on for an entire year or longer without adding any new content and people don't get bored.  It's also amazing that F2P MMOs can add new content every few months with 1% of the subscribers WoW has...lazy greedy ass developers.  

I wish people would stop supporting this trash so they'll be forced to go F2P or at least another MMORPG that could compete with WoW so they will finally get their shit together.  Too bad neither will happen... at least not for many years to come.

freedomzealot
freedomzealot

Lost most interest in the game after they dumbed everything down, lost all interest when they introduced the stupid pandas.

Slagar
Slagar

Only $293 million profit for the quarter? Just awful. How will they ever cope? It just may be time to start re-using old tea-bags, and switch to the budget-brand of loo paper.

I think they might need a government hand-out to keep them afloat. They're patriots, after all.

Slagar
Slagar

Good God, 7.6 million addicts are still hooked on that monstrosity?! It's worse than the T-Virus... When they eventually shutdown the servers, I predict an imminent rise in suicides globally (read: in China). With money-hungry moral-free execs like those of CrActivision out there, our world is supremely f---ed. Dear addicts/people: GO FOR A WALK. YOU ARE LITERALLY KILLING YOURSELVES. D:!

(yes, it's about time I did the same:) just here for a Spot-o'-news)

scottw84
scottw84

Nothing to worry about, can almost guarantee it'll spike to 9million+ again when the next expansion arrives. Gave up on it myself, nothing remotely enjoyable about the PVE anymore, nothing but re-used textures, re-used boss abilities/hybrid spliced off into 'new' boss abilities and the same old loot with mediocre textures. As for the PVP, it's dire, always has been and always will be, there are other games out there that does the PVP better... just not the PVE.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Only people still playing are in China.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

WoW had to fade in popularity sometime, and this is also good because it might mean diehard fans are getting their life back, or at least playing other games.

masakijoe
masakijoe

This game biggest challenge to date will be wildstar. Every other mmo that came out that was suppose to take wow has failed to do that. I have play wildstar and it a chance to take down wow. It is made by former blizzard devs. Yes it is cartoony but that is the only down fall of the game so far.

Tzardok
Tzardok

@epicsymphony Well, that is true, but we need to know if this is Operating Profit or not. If $293M is NOT Operating profit than WoW is finally in substantial trouble for the future near - mid future.  If it is Operating Profit instead of plain profit then yes, they still got enough life to go another round. 


As for improving the game, at this point I am not sure they want to risk changing much. I think that once they no longer have profit from it, it will be converted to free to play, which will either raise profit or sink it completely (unlikely, but I don't do F2P). 


I am a recovered MMO player, for years I have managed to stay clear from the long raid hours and all that social garbage (I truly loved it while it lasted), thing is, WoW would need to change its gameplay, its very dated, its more action bar gameplay and cool downs than anything else. Now days if I ever where to fall back to MMOs I would either go for a survival one, a Tera's action oriented game or Wildstar's reduced action bars. WoW is too much now days and frankly that is sweet irony as I was strongly against "dumbing down" WoW, look at me now... Time changes us I guess and an MMO needs to be aware of this change on their audience.

Tzardok
Tzardok

@jenovaschilld It does NOT "cost little" to run WoW... 


Source: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/blizzard-reveals-full-scale-of-world-of-warcraft-operation


As I have stated in another post above, if this profit refers to Operating Profit then yes, WoW is fine, if this is not Operating Profit then, well... Its not doing that great. I do think Activision will do fine with Destiny though. As for Blizzard they will likely not be as profitable as before and the deal the struck with Activision way back will be coming to haunt them. 

OldDirtyCR
OldDirtyCR

@jerusaelem Overall the expansion was quite well done and I think anyone who gave it a try now would be pleansantly surprised. That said, I'm taking a break till it gets closer to WoD release myself.

Khasym
Khasym

@Zelda187 Well, it will go up slightly, but then it'll go back down. WoW IS the single best successful MMO in the industry, but it's following Nintendo's path. People who want to play WoW, are already playing WoW. And people who don't like WoW, don't like it. There's not much that can be done to get people to look at it again, once they've built their opinion. That's why the numbers continue to drop. Eventually we will all get bored with WoW, despite it's content and numbers.

Tzardok
Tzardok

@Immendorf I rather have the exclusions right of the bat than being led to believe they forgot to include it. While Gamespot does make some "interesting mistakes", this is not one of them. 

Tzardok
Tzardok

@hyru99 I just don't like the "time traveling" one bit, I think this is pretty much the end of the lore from one perspective. Not that it is not interesting to see it first hand mind you, but time traveling, really?


Now days, they would need to limit that action bar or cooldowns, I just can't keep up with them anymore. During raids I spent a lot more time managing my bars than actually playing the game, that was also something dull.


I have no other complaints, the player models were long overdue. Characters looked completely out of place after Cata, the Worgen and Goblins are both visually stunning compared to the old original races. I just feel like they waited too long.


The Warchief base mechanic looks really nice and I wondered why this had not come sooner, but it really does feel like level 100 content.


Tzardok
Tzardok

@Algearond lol, care to elaborate? I hold no love now days for MMOs, but how is "the most successful MMO/game of all time" (financially wise) a "trainwreck"? I am really curious as to what that means here.


Yes, I would love to have those resources spend elsewhere, in games that actually innovate over the years and cut down on this social garbage, but "trainwreck", really? Are you the CEO of EA by chance? j/k

OldDirtyCR
OldDirtyCR

@shinjuki Pretty much. I'm waiting for WoD.

Blizz either needs to accept that the end of expansions will be low number wise OR stop putting a year+ gap between patch and expansion. 

Tzardok
Tzardok

@nik13pav I can see what you are saying here, but isn't a public company (shares and investors) audited by external third parties all the time? There is certainly merit to your question and numbers seem to back you up as I really doubt that many stayed stuck in the original games, but then again if they lie to investors they will be in serious trouble that the company Activision-Blizzard might not recover from without a major restructuring.


Still, its better to question than live in doubt quietly. So know your point has a place here.

svaubel
svaubel

@BSC14  Everquest only got about halfway to a million during it's peak. A pay-to-play MMO in this day still having numbers that high is pretty impressive.

pertjo
pertjo

@3dmatrixgamer  Hahaha Half-life is not a MP game and they haven't released a half-life game in 7years.

alzarthedruid
alzarthedruid

@Keithy211  I find it funny when idiots like you think that MMO's that release with 1/100th of the content WoW has and manages to release it in rapid succession you think they're doing a good job.

lordtrickster
lordtrickster

@Keithy211  F2P MMOs often fall towards quantity rather than quality on their content.  Doesn't matter if you keep adding new content quarterly if that content isn't interesting.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@Keithy211  Because WoW was a good game to start with. Blizzard was obligated to make the best game they could from the start because people were paying out of the gate.

F2P developers not only don't have that much money to start with they aren't obligated to make anything particularly awesome at the start because people get what they pay for. If you pay nothing you can't expect anything. It is why most F2P games I've ever tried have been half arsed pieces of shit that no one wants to play.

The only game I've ever played that I thought was a quality game was Maplestory in fact. But that was because the game comes from South Korea, and South Korea has one of the biggest F2P infrastructures on the planet where people will buy microtransactions.

The fact that WoW is such a big hit even now goes to show how much work Blizzard have done over the years that not only is WoW appealing even when there isn't anything "new" coming along, i.e. WoW is fun in its own right, but it offers a framework within which people can create new experiences with their friends. That is all WoW is really, it is a world that you can explore with your friends. That is fun no matter what but it is even better when there is a quality product under your feet at the same time.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

@Keithy211  Well no matter what you think of WoW, the fact is some of the largest and most richest content in MMOrpg is blizzards several years old mmo. With nonstop events each and every month, and the games flexibly changing structure to accommodate new players and old it still delivers $15 dollars worth of content each month. I only played the game for 3 years and haven't played it now for 3 years but I am still impressed at just how much content - new and old- there is to do when I see my other friends play it. 

Is wow still relevant after all of these years? 7 mill + subscribers - hey I hate facebook but still have to give it up for something that keeps that many people engaged and satisfied. 

Is the content as good as newer F2P mmo s? Yes and no, but by shear volume it is enough to keep its subscribers happy. No game or even genre has the power to keep its audience forever- the fact that wow has now for so many years. Wows preorder for its new expansion is larger then most of the people playing f2p mmos. 

The developers must be doing something right - it still is keeping so many subscribers. 


omar_q
omar_q

@Slagar  I haven't ever played WoW and I'm not big on MMO's in general, but that game is far far away from shutting down their servers. 

Chernnunos
Chernnunos

@masakijoe And I have played WIldstar, too. The only thing it does well is mediocrity. It is really, really boring. The combat is so static and cookie-cutter. The classes are uninspired and the skill trees are bland. You can't look at a character of any level, and immediately know what class they are. The "paths" are just empty fodder content that people aren't really taking to.  THe only thing truly amazing about Wildstar is the musical score. It's just outstanding. And that's it. People will be done with it quite quickly.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

@Tzardok @jenovaschilld If you look above you will see I stated takes little to run of what it takes in.. just an idea 7.6 million times $15 = 114,000,000 per month! Oh, I am sure there are plenty of things that will reduce that number in many ways but still - that is a number to be reckoned with. There is a reason that so many publishers have chased that 800lb gorilla in the room called WoW, it is very profitable... very. As for the Activision/Blizzard deal it has worked out very well for Activision and Blizzard both, Blizzard is one of the few developers who have true independence and have a sweet deal with their publishers, meanwhile Activision as the distributor only, got in as the franchise exploded and the last Activision profit showed Blizzard division as one of its most profitable. 

As for Destiny, Bungies new baby, they also have a sweetheart deal with Activision, but Activision will do well with publishing distribution because you and I both know the game will sale in the millions, tens of millions. One thing activision does well is distribution, their reach, connection with traditional brick and mortar, and team do get results even though Bobbi Kotick is horrible p.o.s. that is bad for gamers. 

Wow is doing just fine, for an mmo with some age it has already outlasted many that have come and gone. Not only does blizzard take in plenty of subscription they make a ton more in branding and merchandise. Wow will do just fine and they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon, regardless of subscribers, after all there will always be another wow on the horizon. 

Tzardok
Tzardok

@OldDirtyCR @jerusaelem I have no plans to go back to WoW or MMOs in general, but I did have a brief experience with Mysts of Pandaria, I actually liked it more so than WotLK, but its right there with Cata I guess. Also WotLK is older so its not really fair to compare them.


In MoP the quests felt better structured than before and there was a lot of cool phasing used in it. Also, I was a huge fan of the "Pandarem Brewmaster" from Warcraft 3 (back when Warcraft was actually just a great game and not a social experience) so I am certainly biased. Though WotLK definitely had the better villain of all I guess.


jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

@Khasym @Zelda187 Well do not forget that as the years go on - new players will start playing wow simply because of age. A 5yrs old in 2003 is now 16yrs old and one day they will go humm - wonder what this old game WoW is all about. 

Also as the world gains more and more computer users and more importantly computer access - Europe, Africa, India, Asia - hell even parts of the USA that is just now getting real broadband allowing people to play wow who could not have before. 

But you are right Khasym, wow is old and the population will slide down regardless of how many new they add. Everything gets boring after a while.  I am sure they are already working on the successor of wow - in whatever form it takes. 

Tzardok
Tzardok

I stand corrected, my apologies @Immendorf , you are correct. Gamespot is misleading in this article... well, there you have it.

3dmatrixgamer
3dmatrixgamer

@pertjo  both were spawn at the same time WoW and HL2 (2004).

Tzardok
Tzardok

@jenovaschilld Certainly a valid approach, WoW has a lot of families playing together so  it is quite reasonable to believe some will carry on the legacy for a while. Numbers will fall eventually, everything does (don't forget the Roman Republic/Empire, it took 1000 years, but it fell).


But let me share something simple with you guys, looking at WoD's trailer the first thing that caught my eye was the wolf mounts, how much have they improved over the years! So, I really don't think WoW is dead just yet and there is a chance to make a strong come back if that Warchief base mechanic really is as awesome as people/beta testers say it is. With that said, now that I have a full time job, married and have a kid, I just don't have the time I used to play it. WoW's gameplay would need to have a smaller hud/action bars for me to keep up with it, its just not possible anymore, unless I fully ignore my duties as a family man (which will not happen) there is no way I can be as effective as I used to in any MMO now.


Wildstar was shown to me by my cousin, its actually a pretty neat game, but I am not sure I want to go back to the old MMOs for the reasons above, I am waiting for him to share his raiding experiences but just the thought of committing to a raid makes me ill now.