Traveler, writer, reviewer, all-round observer. I like anything cool & fast, but occasionally sit at a cafe watching the world go by.
A published article I wrote…
WoW Loses 1.3 Million Players Within 3 Months
written by Aki Solomos -May 10, 2013
During its earnings call to investors earlier this week, Activision-Blizzard reported that it has lost 1.3 million players during the past 3 months. That’s a staggering 13.5% loss within a quarter.
Since it’s introduction in 1994, WoW slowly became, and still is one of the most successful game-franchises in the history of gaming. With an incredible amount of 8.3 million subscribers (down from 9.6 in February), it is still a behemoth in the online gaming world holding a Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game)). According to Activision-Blizzard chief Bobby Kotick, most of the losses were players from the East, although a considerable amount of Western players has left also, and the numbers are expected to continue to drop even further. He went on to say, “While we do believe further declines are likely, and we expect to have fewer subscribers in a year then we do today, World of Warcraft remains one of the most successful franchises in the history of entertainment.” Blizzard CEO confirms this with his statement, “Given the more competitive market, and the length of time since the last expansion, we do expect further volatility this year.”
In 2010, with over 12 million players at its peak, the numbers began to decline as other free-to-play online games competed for the spotlight. Before the launching of The Mists of Pandaria, the numbers fell to approximately 9 million players, despite having had 2.7 million copies sold within the first week. This is not surprising considering the number of years it has been in existence when it was first released on November of 2004 and the number of MMORPG there are, and not to mention the economy. One strategy the creators are planning to keep their fan-base and interest up is the upcoming collectable card game spin-off “Hearthstone” due out this summer.
The question remains for the company though, ‘Is this too little, too late?’ Investors prove to be impatient backing away from the market causing it to fall by 5% in after-hours trading after the announcement. And things do look grim in a further statement from Kotick, “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. 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.”
Further strategizing to keep investors and gamers alike loyal to the company, Blizzard’s mysterious next-gen MMO, TITAN is set to be released either in 2014 or 2015. Kotick went on to say, “It’s important to note that the nature of online games has changed, and with the environment becoming far more competitive, especially with free-to-play games. To address this, we’re working to release new content more frequently to keep our players engaged longer and make it easier for lapsed players to come back into the game.” Further hints of next-gen gaming were also mentioned by other game developers. Epic’s VP Mark Rein was recently quoted as saying “The next-gen consoles are going to be fully embracing the free-to-play and these IAP-type business models. So in case you don’t know that, I’m putting that out there. Sony and Microsoft are both going heavily in that area.”
In regards to luring players to pay or allow them to play for free, Adhesive Games game producer Jason Hughes said, “It doesn’t matter if you spend any money or not, ultimately that doesn’t matter. People need to have fun no matter what. Part of it is making sure that people are always having a good time regardless of whether or not they’re winning.” He went on to say, “We want to make sure that anything that has an impact on game-play can be unlocked by those who prefer to just play for free. Anyone who plays for free is still contributing to the success of the game.” With competitors with that kind of thinking, no wonder WoW is losing players.