World of Warcraft subscriptions on the rise, ended 2013 at 7.8 million

Blizzard's MMO adds 200,000 subscribers in three months to end 2013 with 7.8 million members.

Blizzard Entertainment's MMORPG World of Warcraft ended 2013 with 7.8 million paying members, which is up from the 7.6 million figure announced in November. That's right, more than 9 years after release, the game is actually continuing to grow.

Of course, 7.8 million is down from a milestone of more than 12 million subscribers achieved in 2010 following the release of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. All the same, it's impressive that the game has been able to not only stem subscriber attrition, but actually grow this late in a product lifecycle.

World of Warcraft's fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor, was announced during BlizzCon in November and is expected to launch later this year. The subscriber numbers were announced as part of Activision Blizzard's latest earnings report today detailing fourth-quarter and full-year sales.

Other highlights from the earnings announcement today included Activision Blizzard revealing that Call of Duty: Ghosts was the best-selling title in terms of units and dollars during the quarter ended December 31. It was also the best-selling game on both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in terms of units and dollars, Activision Blizzard said.

As of December 31, the Skylanders franchise has generated more than $2 billion in worldwide sales, Activision Blizzard said. The company has sold around 175 million Skylanders toys worldwide, according to internal estimates.

For the year ended December 31, Activision Blizzard posted revenue of $4.34 billion, down from $4.99 billion in 2012. Digital net revenue was $1.57 billion for year and made up 36 percent of total. For the quarter also ended December 31, revenue was $2.27 billion, compared to $2.60 billion last year.

Looking ahead to 2014, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said it is looking forward to launching titles like Bungie's Destiny and new entries in the Call of Duty and Skylanders franchises, as well as Diablo III expansion Reaper of Souls on March 25. Also in 2014, Activision Blizzard will release three free-to-play games: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, and Call of Duty Online. Kotick said these games have "great global potential."

"Free-to-play as a business model has now achieved scale, both in the West and in China. Hearthstone, which released in open beta on PC last month and which Blizzard Entertainment plans to expand this year to tablets and smartphones, is already attracting millions of players with strong engagement and monetization in the West and China, putting it on track to join World of Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft as their fourth mega franchise."

Activision is currently holding a call to discuss these results and answer questions. Check back soon for more.

Written By

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

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Discussion

181 comments
vickyvk86
vickyvk86

several games trying to beat world of warcraft, bit it holds the same top position for 10 yrs..

Gagomkd
Gagomkd

I wouldn't say it is rising but whatever.I think that Warlords will decide about WoW future.

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

To be fair, I think that was just people logging back in to see the graphical improvements.

jjleshko90
jjleshko90

Typical Eddie article.

Wrath of the Lich King was released in 2008, not 2010. Therefore, "more than 12 million subscribers achieved in 2010 following the release of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion" is rather asinine. Better would be "in anticipation for Cataclysm," or "two years after the successful Wrath expansion was released."

The "growth" that Eddie raves about is also baffling. A video game with that many people playing, there is going to be some fluctuation. It's just natural. Not to mention the fact that it was the end of the year, otherwise known as the holiday season, also known as a time when students can play the addictive WoW without much fear of losing at life.


Also awesome how it's supposedly "continuing to grow" even though it's down 5 million subscribers from 2010. That's oxymoronic.

zura_janai
zura_janai

I've tried almost every mmorpg on the market and io think WoW is sill the number1 followed by GW2

the game isn't dead yet but it has to improve a lot of things to keep this place

15$ a month it's too expansive

wallacom
wallacom

8 mil * $15/month = WOW... No pun intended 

Davhut
Davhut

If they bring back the difficulty level from the early days, then I would return to the game.  I still support it with a sub, but stopped regular play as it is too easy now, and filled with infantile players. Toughen up the gameplay, improve the story writing, provide more thought provoking questlines, and improve the pvp and raiding packages, then you will see people return in droves.  For now happy to play other mmorpgs, and with ESO and Destiny coming, I fear that my days with WOW are coming to an end.  May be it is inevitable, like a right of passage. Probably best not to look back but to look forward instead.

MateykoSlam
MateykoSlam

over 10 billion dolars in revenue. the highest grossing / most successful game ever still reigns over all other wannabes

texasgoldrush
texasgoldrush

World of Warcraft is outdated. There are so many better MMOs at what they do. The Secret World has far better quest design and a far more interesting lore, SWTOR is a far better leveling experience and a much better story, Star Trek Online is far more ambitious with star ship battles.


WoW was great until Arthas was killed, but then the raids became less of a challenge, the writing (already poor) got worse, and to much emphasis was put on endgame over leveling. And now you can even skip the leveling process with new characters with this new expansion.


WoW really is powered by Korean and Chinese players now days. Yes, players are coming back, but that's due to the expansion announcement. Their numbers WILL fall again.

ganondorf77
ganondorf77

@naryanrobinson  There are no graphical improvements since Cata. Next expansion will feature just new character models, not even new environment models, witch are in all vanilla regions, a very big issue still to be dealt.

Giarccpsn
Giarccpsn

@naryanrobinson  The graphics upgrade isn't happening until the next expansion is released. 

3dmatrixgamer
3dmatrixgamer

@zura_janai     15$ a subscription fee for a single game with 8 million subscribers it is a huge success and massive world record.Blizzard should announce fee deduction at the 10th anniversary of WoW and i think 5$ will be good enough and i hope that will raise game population too.Now Blizzard should announce some thing new and innovative i mean a new IP.

jjleshko90
jjleshko90

@wallacom for nine years, no less. :)   (You'd think they'd finally have the server figured out by now, though.)

Sprock26
Sprock26

@Davhut  You are spot on with this one. I stopped playing WoW in 2009 i think it was. But loved it back then, and then in late 2012/13 i decided to give it a try again. And damn it got easy and there were so many infantile players it ruined the game completly. 

texasgoldrush
texasgoldrush

@Davhut

If you really want a forward looking MMO, look no further than The Secret World.


Excellent quest writing and design that requires more than just combat, but puzzle solving, in a real world Lovecraftian setting.


And its buy 2 play.

Maoxx
Maoxx

@texasgoldrush  While I wont disagree that other MMO's do certain things better than WoW. The problem is they don't do ALL of it better than WoW. In the case of SWTOR, the content was a buggy mess on release and remained that way for all the way up to 6 months from release. Not to mention was easy as all hell to clear. I have not played the other 2 so no comment there, but I believe the amount of players playing probably tells the real story. 


As far as the raids being less of a challenge....I can tell just by this statement you've NEVER done heroic raiding, and most likely not even normal mode raiding. LFR isn't challenging yes, Normal, and heroic especially when it's still the current content can still be difficult. There is a reason a very low percent of raiding guilds full clear heroic raids 10 or 25 man. 


As far as the character buying bit, it is both a bandaid for the leveling process being boring and a way for new players to the game or returning players to get back toward the current expansion and play with their friends.

It wont break the game as they still have to do the hard section of the leveling 90 - 100.


The numbers will fall again sure. No doubt. It's a 9 year old game. However I don't consider it outdated, even now MMORPG's are still using that general model of gameplay (FF14 ARR for example and even SWTOR). 

Kunasha
Kunasha

@texasgoldrush  WoW is not outdated. It's broken. WotLK is still played by at least 100,000 people, and that's just a single private server cluster.


WoW's questflow has indeed gotten very bad. It was never outdated though; you see, they changed it in 4.0, and it become worse for it. It's too linear, and you go through too many zones for you to be able to experience them till the end before being forced to move on due to outlevelling them. Thus you get a lot of collect quests, half stories, and generally a weak experience.

PvP is broken because of poor class design. There are significant efforts to improve this for WoD, and they've really draw on the community for it. I speak to the designers of this game almost every week, and they're really, really trying.

PvE is actually pretty good right now, but LFD/LFR is causing problems because it's sapping away the sense of wonder. Not only do you get teleported around too much and thus break immersion far too often for comfort when using the system, but there they also take away the sense of community and impression away. You no longer look at a great player wearing impressive gear and go "Wow, I wish that was me" and then put in months of playtime into it - because it can be you in 10 hours through LFR Except for recolors, lol.

WoW is not powered by China and Korea. WoW is almost dead in both of those territories. WoW is primarily played in the US, followed by the EU. This is actually the biggest reason why sub numbers have been dropping. THey counted subscribers in China differently, and it was inflating the numbers. Given that WoW China is nearly dead and is soon going F2P, if it hasn't already, the numbers are lower globally though the same or perhaps even higher locally.

Tumyum
Tumyum

@texasgoldrush  I stopped play WoW at the end of BC, but SWTOR is far better??? LOL! Come on dude, you got bad taste.

darkrayne
darkrayne

@3dmatrixgamer @zura_janai lol.. WoW was like.. 12 million at it's peak? It's not even at half that yet and you think they'll slash the price by 2/3? Good luck.

Davhut
Davhut

@texasgoldrush @Davhut Yep,mate got this from day 1, loving it, love the costumes, love the questlines.  Super underestimated game :D

texasgoldrush
texasgoldrush

@Maoxx @texasgoldrush

WoW was a buggy mess on release, hell, it was a worse game at launch than SWTOR.


Raids are less of a challenge, they made normal easier. Back in old WoW, they was only one difficulty, and the best guilds cleared the raids. It was an event when a boss died the first time. Not so much anymore. And really SWTOR is not supposed to be a hardcore game, its not that type of MMO. WoW now is mostly about endgame, SWTOR isn't.


The Secret World is very niche, but the people playing love the game.


The general model of gameplay existed before WoW. WoW was not the originator, it was a refiner.


And if the leveling process is boring, than that's a flaw, or its outdated quest design.

texasgoldrush
texasgoldrush

@Kunasha @texasgoldrush

I really haven't played in a long time, on and off since Alpha, but stopped completely at Cataclysm.


It is outdated and broken. It was no longer fun and raids simply were not achievements anymore.

ganondorf77
ganondorf77

@texasgoldrush @Maoxx  WoW was a mess at release because they did not expect such waves of players, and you cant blame nothing because there were no subscription based MMOs that played even 100k players, and WoW day of release surpased 400k: they could not handle that because that numbers were impossible to conceive. Nobody could have foreseen that in 2004. I do not feel WoW is about endgame. I feel 50% is game, 50% is endgame, witch means you can play 100h to levelling and another 100 to gear, for each char you create, or, if you really like levelling, you can play more than 150 before gearing, or if you don't like it, in just 20-30h you can get to the endgame. This versatility is almost perfect. SWTOR is not all about endgame, but it's almost all about "startgame", witch is at most 20h of levelling any char (and if you have played a lot WoW before, not even 10 h till you get bored, because it's the same)

ganondorf77
ganondorf77

@texasgoldrush @QuadDamage85@QuadDamage85 is not talking about THAT numbers, but of CONTENT numbers. It's outdated if you talk about core engine, but it's been under development for more than 13-14 years, it's unbeatable in content. Any gamer with a little sense do agree in gameplay and content are almost everything. No other MMO you can think of is better than WoW. Yes, they try to improve a lot: real dynamic action RPG MMO, better questing, random possiblities, etc, but they all start with not even 10% of WoW content, so they are dead almost the first couple of months. WoW and EVE are going to be the best MMO ever till they are terminated. The funniest of all points here is that the only game with a little possibilities to change this is going to be that Titan project Blizzard is apparently developing. lol

Vexov
Vexov

@texasgoldrush @MateykoSlam @QuadDamage85  WoW has fallen greatly, but the subs won't really go away even if a better MMO came out. The majority are creatures of comfort and change is scary.


They should just fire everyone in charge of development and hire people with real creativity and passion.

texasgoldrush
texasgoldrush

@MateykoSlam @texasgoldrush@QuadDamage85

and why does TSW and SWTOR have to be seamless?


That doesn't make it better.


Tell me how do I make a game that takes place across the real planet Earth seamless? The Secret World's setting does not need to be seamless.

texasgoldrush
texasgoldrush

@MateykoSlam @texasgoldrush@QuadDamage85

So how is WoW going from level 1 to max level better than say The Secret World or SWTOR?


Because its not. While you ar edoingrandom stuff for random people in WoW with an occasional instance for your level, you are being told an epic story in SWTOR or solving mysteries in TSW, with much beeter design. WoW on the other hand, is still dated.


Yes, endgame and PvP, WoW is king....but its no longer king at getting there.