World of Warcraft subscription numbers tell a story against every one of the this year’s buzz worth events: the game is not on mobile, it’s not Free to Play, and it’s not on the newest consoles. Yet year over year, there are more subscribers than last year.
The series has been in decline since the third quarter of 2010, when World of Warcraft subscription numbers peaked at 12 million subscribers. By the end of last year, Activision Blizzard only had 7.8 million subscribers for one of the company’s core pillars of annual revenue.
Yet the release of expansion pack Lords of Draenor saw the game’s subscriber base bounce to 10 million users, the highest rate since Q3 of 2012. The boost in subscribers is a testament to the quality of the expansion pack, which also earned the highest first day sales of any expansion pack in the game’s history.
Find more statistics at Statista
“Rather than working on a replacement, Blizzard has smartly been updating the decade old title in tangible ways such as reworking the character models to better match the higher visual quality exhibited by games made more recently,” noted DFC Intelligence in a recent release. “This all gives the game a fresh face that could help in retaining subscribers longer than is experienced with previous expansions.”
While the pay-to-play MMO sector continues to lose revenue year-over-year overall, and free-to-play titles like League of Legends and Crossfire monetize better, World of Warcraft still stands as a top-performing MMO.
Top MMOs by Revenue:
- League of Legends
- Dungeon Figher Online
- World of Warcraft
- World of Tanks
- Lineage 1
- Counter-Strike Online
- DOTA 2
- Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
With such a storied history, Activision-Blizzard is able to execute globally with World of Warcraft in a way few other companies can.
“But what impresses us most is how well localized Warlords of Draenor is up-front. With no delay the MMO supports Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Korean, Latin American Spanish, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish and Traditional Chinese,” noted DFC Intelligence. “All of which makes Warlords of Draenor a critical installment for the franchise.”
However, despite a great finish to the year, 2014 was the worst performing year for the franchise since 2006, with less than 8 million subscribers active throughout most of the year. Still, the rebound is a good sign of ongoing life for World of Warcraft, an MMO in its 10th year of existence.