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World of Warcraft had a rough beginning to 2015. Activision-Blizzard revealed during their latest financial results that the game has lost a big chunk of their subscribers in the past three months.
PC GamesN is reporting that the latest financial postings by Activision sees World of Warcraft at only 7.1 million subscribers. The statement in the earnings report makes it known that in the previous quarter the game has lost 3 million subscribers but it's still hugely successful by subscription-only MMO standards...
World of Warcraft's revenue performance at constant FX has been more stable, driven by continued strong uptake on value added services, and price increases in select regions, which partially offset subscriber declines, particularly in the East. World of Warcraft remains the No. 1 subscription-based MMORPG in the world.
There are a number of other free-to-play MMOs that champion World of Warcraft as far as active users go, such as Runescape, which still manages to keep its player-base despite being one of the oldest free MMORPGs around. Then again, constant updates and frequent upgrades to Runescape's graphics and gameplay has helped it stay in the running as a competent competitor in the MMO space.
For World of Warcraft, Blizzard has focused on infrequent expansion packs to keep gamers coming back for more. The expansions, as the PCGamesN article says, really help bring back old addicts and fed-up fans. The expansions will even sometimes give World of Warcraft a nice little subscription boost up by a few million or so.
Even with the Warlords of Draenor expansion for World of Warcraft it wasn't enough to maintain the coveted 10 million figure. Nevertheless, Blizzard has been experimenting by reinventing some of the old dungeons with new patches, as well as giving the game a slow cosmetic upgrade over the years. The developers have been added quests and raids with Draenor's post-launch patches as well.
However, it's become quite obvious that after investors had voiced concerned about Activision's lack of long-term brands for continued revenue streams, the company has really started branching out. Activision Blizzard has shifted a lot of their focus onto things like the highly popular Hearthstone or Heroes of the Storm, the latter of which is designed to compete in the now very coveted and very popular MOBA space. Riot Games is currently dominating the MOBA arena with League of Legends, but Valve also owns a big piece of the pie with Dota 2.
At this juncture I don't think that Activision really needs to worry much at all. Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm appear to be worthy successors to World of Warcraft and even if they did lose 3 million subscribers in the last quarter, they're still rocking 7 million subscribers and all the cash that comes with them.