World Of Warcraft Loses 100,000 Subscribers
During Activision Blizzard's conference call with investors today, the company revealed that World of Warcraft lost another 100,000 subscribers in the last quarter of 2011. This is good or bad news, depending on your perspective.
WoW consistently bled subscribers through 2011. In the first three quarters of 2011, the game lost 600K, 300K, and 800K players. A loss of 100,000 sounds small by comparison. You could argue that it means subscriber numbers are stabilizing.
Still, it took a lot of effort on Blizzard's part to earn that modest loss. In October they began selling Annual Passes to WoW, which entitle the buyer to a free copy of Diablo III and access to the closed beta of WoW's upcoming expansion Mists of Pandaria. In December, they released Patch 4.3, arguably the biggest content update to the game in a year. Blizzard pretty much threw everything they had at the game this quarter and ended up with a loss anyway.
It's also not clear yet what impact Star Wars: The Old Republic's launch will have on WoW's numbers yet. SW:TOR was released on December 20th but each copy comes with a 30-day free trial. If a player is only going to pay for one MMO subscription, they'd be able to wait until late January to decide whether they're sticking with SW:TOR or WoW. Furthermore, even if you decided to drop WoW like a bad habit on December 20th, you're still counted as a subscriber in Blizzard's tally until the sub actually runs out.
Even with the losses WoW sustained this year, though, the game still has 10.2 million active subscribers. That's several times the amount of the other leading MMOs on the market. Blizzard still expects to release Mists of Pandaria in 2012 so it's possible many of their former players will come crawling back.
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