The final months of World of Warcraft's Cataclysm era are the roughest yet. Blizzard announced that they lost a total of 1.1 million subscribers during the second quarter of 2012, bringing the total player base down to 9.1 million.
To be fair, 9.1 million is still a huge amount of subscribers. WoW is easily the largest subscriber-based MMO out there. Still, the long-term trends must have Blizzard worried. Since Cataclysm's launch in December 2010, the game has been steadily bleeding subscribers. Roughly 2.9 million players have left WoW in 2011 and 2012.
While the magnitude of the loss might be a surprise, the fact that they're losing subscribers isn't. Blizzard's Diablo 3 launched in May so many usual WoW players may have let their subscriptions lapse so they can play that. Furthermore, the game is in the usual late expansion pack lull; there hasn't been a major content update since December of last year. Most players have no doubt gotten bored of the new raid and dungeons by now.
You have to wonder what the subscriber numbers would be like if Blizzard hadn't start selling the WoW Annual Pass late last year. The Annual Pass is a twelve-month commitment to WoW that entitles the holder to guaranteed access to the beta for upcoming expansion pack Mists of Pandaria, an exclusive in-game mount, and a free digital copy of D3. In other words, players might've signed up for the deal in late 2011 or early 2012 when they weren't tired of the game and now they're locked in for a subscription that they might not necessarily want. It was a clever move by Blizzard to stop the bleeding. It's said that at least a million players signed up for this deal in total.
More subscribers were lost in the East than in the West. Blizzard is hoping to launch Pandaria in China as soon as they can, though it won't be available in the third quarter. Most other countries of the world will get the expansion on September 25th.
Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.
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