World of Warcraft sees decrease in subscriber base

After over six years of subscriber growth, Blizzard mega-popular fantasy MMO World of Warcraft may have reached plateaus. During the financial conference call on Monday for Blizzard's parent company Activision Blizzard it was announced that currently World of Warcraft has 11.4 million subscribers. That's a downturn of Blizzard's previously announced high number of 12 million subscribers back in October of 2010.

It was thought that the release last December of Blizzard's third major commercial expansion for the game, World of Warcraft Cataclysm, would help to boost subscriber numbers again. In January Blizzard announced that sales of Cataclysm had reached 4.7 million copies worldwide in just its first month. However, the recent downturn in subscribers might have happened in part due to the release of Rift, a fantasy MMO from developer Trion Worlds. The game had a massive marketing campaign that directly targeted World of Warcraft players.

During the conference call, Blizzard president Mike Morhaime told investors that World of Warcraft's players "have become much better and much faster at consuming content" and said that those players have gone through the content of the Cataclysm expansion pack faster than previous expansions. Morhaime said that Blizzard does plan to offer up new expansions to the game in a faster time frame than in previous years. Normally World of Warcraft players have had to wait roughly two years between commercial expansion packs.

Even with the decrease in its player base, World of Warcraft is still the biggest MMO game in the world in terms of monthly subscribers and it generates a ton of revenue every month for Activision Blizzard in both monthly fees and other streams. Blizzard is also working on a new MMO game but details about that title have remained a secret.

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imagine all the man-working hours that have been wasted on this game that could have been used to make our planet better

jasonon said,
imagine all the man-working hours that have been wasted on this game that could have been used to make our planet better
Perhaps we could stop *all* recreational activity.

I don't think I'm renewing mine either. I used to love playing a priest but healing isn't fun any more, it's just stressful and annoying. Seems all the nice friendly people have gone too, there's nothing but trolls and vicious hate mongers left playing. Cataclysm is all just more of the same anyway, and most games made in 2004 are considered ancient today. It's little wonder everyone is leaving.

The only thing that kept me playing the last few years were achievements, but after you get a lot of the harder ones and feats of strength you realize that no one cares and they really don't mean anything. Most of all you realize it's not a game, it's a full time job that you pay for instead of getting paid for.

5 years playing it and i left just after Cataclysm. I hit 85 the day after release of Cata. At 85 i found it boring, the dungeons were easy even though they'd promised they'd go back to TBC days of difficulty.
In my eyes the game was dying coming up to Cata and i was hoping that it'd turn around with the expansion and all the new ideas, but to really get what you pay for you'd have to start another character and level to see all the changes, and having 1 of each class on both factions i didnt wanna turn around and start again. Even with WoTLK it took a week or more to get from 70-80. 5 pitiful levels was an insult! why 85? why not 90? Add 2 more zones or something and thats all they'd have to have done.
Left WoW for Rift Beta and never going back. I loaded it yesterday when they sent me a free 7 days, logged in 5 minutes, out, uninstalled and deleted.
WoWs days are slowly coming to an end, IMO.

I just quitted the game this weekend after 4 years. Game isnt dificult, it just became a chore and and the boss fights annoying instead of challenging. Raid pugs died, gear went from freely distributed to impossible to get and quite frankly I stopped feeling entertained from it months ago.

last time i touched wow was 6 months ago
when my nephew installed it on my computer
i loaded it played 5 mins uninstalled it wow no thank you
played guild of wars & loved it

I haven't touched WoW in over 2 years lol. They keep sending me 7 days of free game time but i just ignore them lol.

I got bored of wow soon after I hit 85 well bored again, some ppl on my server grinded all night and got from 80-85 in less than a day I think, it was fun playing the first day cus all the zones were full and seemed like a frantic race but when I went with my second character later the zones were empty and was boring. stopped playing cus had move parents till my new house was ready and tbh I don't miss it one bit. I can actually talk to ppl ive never met in rl like I've known em for ages. MMO don't think I'm going play MMOs again it friggin wrecked my social skills (my fault I know)... hmmm reminder need cancel me sub paying for someat I ain't playing!

Dedicated GW player here still grinding my "God Walking Amongst Mere Mortals" title. I got bored about a year and a half ago and moved to WoW. Loved my time in WoW but after each 3.x patch I felt I was back to where I started in the previous patch. Worked hard to get that set armour then have it replaced by a new set a few months later. TBH though WoW for the reason could keep anyone busy. Eventually though a growing family meant I had to stop as I couldn't dedicate time to the game. Paying £9 a month for a game I only get to play for 1 hr a day was pointless. So I went back to grinding my GW title ready for GW2. Can't wait for GW2, loved the first and hopefully will love the 2nd. I just hope Diablo III doesn't take peoples focus away.

through the content of the Cataclysm expansion pack faster than previous expansions
-----------
Sure that's probably why the realm first Nefarian Heroic on Emerald Dream was yesterday only. The real fact is 99.99% of the players out there are still trying to clear the current content. Few actually downed more than Halfus on heroic.

Blizzard WoW team is just loosing it. Trying to say otherwise is delusional. They are recycling content. New content while not bad aint great either. Game feels cookie cuter. Paladin class lost all it's flavor. Almost all classes now have a resource system (energy, focus, holy power, eclipse) and work the same way (wait for proc and nuke). The last nerf of the ret paladin spec (a spec that was already before the nerf one of the worst in arena) is a good example of the fact the Blizzard team doesn't have a clue what they are doing.

I'll probably quit wow soon. It used to be a good game. There was problems (specially for paladin before TBC) but the game was not cookie cuter like it is right now and good players was able to adjust and be on top in an original way (paladin healer wearing cloth in vanilla, rogues soloing BRD dungeon at 60 with trillion of world buff, Hunter stacking armor pen in wrath to top the dps, ...).

^ Oh please ! Who was whining about some fights requiring specific classes ? Who cried about some classes not having enough survivability ? The homogenization is something the player base asked for, and as soon as they got it they did the only thing they have ever done : QQ.

Well, good. Maybe this will motivate Blizz to get off their ass and finish Diablo III!

I played Cata for a little over a month and got tired of it. It is the same old grind that it was 6 months ago no matter what you are doing in the game. I did end up enjoying the PvP content more than the PvE content (which is reversed from when I first started playing the game). The hardest thing to overcome in the PvE content was other's stupidity, not the game content. You were either in a good group or in a **** group. In order to be in a good group you had to spend an extraordinary amount of time playing the game and working on those virtual relationships with folks. Blah. PvP was more single player oriented and much more casual so I liked it more at the end. But there are better PvP games out there.

Shadrack said,
Well, good. Maybe this will motivate Blizz to get off their ass and finish Diablo III!

thats what i think, they get so much money for their wow, that they are like "well... we wont rush with sc2 nor diablo 3... anyway silly people will always buy our games when we release it".

the only thing changed was 1-60 and 80-85 content, outland and northrend went unchanged, still the ssame boring grind, not to mention lots of recycled content, I mean yes its nice to have ZG now a lv 85 raid for those who missed out on it in vanilla, but to veterans, its still the same old thing....

They may have had better luck if they introduced new classes rather than making other races be classes they werent before such as Tauren Paladin or Gnome Priest.

Xerino said,
the only thing changed was 1-60 and 80-85 content, outland and northrend went unchanged, still the ssame boring grind, not to mention lots of recycled content, I mean yes its nice to have ZG now a lv 85 raid for those who missed out on it in vanilla, but to veterans, its still the same old thing....
And in TBC only Outland changed. And in WotLK only Northrend changed. Cataclysm did rather more.

Cataclysm was a bold, fresh revision to WoW but it simply wasn't enough. I upgraded and resubbed for a few months, but the new content didn't change what is effectively the same game... a game i already grew tired of. I'm not sorry that I delved back in for a few months, but any subsequent expansions won't snatch me back... I'm ready for something completely new. The Old Republic is probably next in line

11.4 million subscripers, but they only sold 4.7 million copies of Cataclysm? Are the rest of the players still playing vanilla content or something...?

Alastyr said,
11.4 million subscripers, but they only sold 4.7 million copies of Cataclysm? Are the rest of the players still playing vanilla content or something...?

4.7 million copies in just the first month. Each month after that probably did the about 1/2 that amount, it would only take 3-4 months to get almost all of the 11.4 million having the expansion.

Alastyr said,
11.4 million subscripers, but they only sold 4.7 million copies of Cataclysm? Are the rest of the players still playing vanilla content or something...?

"4.7 million copies worldwide in just its first month", you missed the last part of the sentence ^^ That being said, yes there are certainly people that still play WotLK and to be honest if you still haven't dinged 80 it's not THAT important to get Cata.

DrunkenBeard said,

"4.7 million copies worldwide in just its first month", you missed the last part of the sentence ^^ That being said, yes there are certainly people that still play WotLK and to be honest if you still haven't dinged 80 it's not THAT important to get Cata.

Didn't miss it, but I still think that 6,9 millions who DIDN'T buy Cataclysm the first month is a very bad number. A worse number than the 400k subscripers they have lost now.
Maybe I'm just reading too much into it...

Alastyr said,

Didn't miss it, but I still think that 6,9 millions who DIDN'T buy Cataclysm the first month is a very bad number. A worse number than the 400k subscripers they have lost now.
Maybe I'm just reading too much into it...

The thing with the Cataclysm expansion is that you don't NEED it to experiance new content, unlike the other expansions before it.

Cataclysm changed the world they play in from lvls 1-60 and it was a mandatory update. I was quite happy, leveling 1-60 all the updated classes and enjoying the new starting areas for each race, and when you have zero idea about about where quests are and what they contain, its almost like playing the game for the first time again. It was very enjoyable to have a 'fresh start' so to speak.
It was something like 3 months when I decided to finally level up my 80's that I already had and I'll get back to the reason for that in a moment. It took me a week at most, with my warrior. Cataclysm was far far too easy to level up as a prot warrior. I didnt even have to exchange any of my armor or weapons when leveling up, it felt like there was little or no challenge in the game anymore.

.. and reason I went back to leveling my 80's was I had level 60's from the new cataclysm azeroth leveling zones, except the transition to 61-70 and then 71-80 was .. well disjointed and had next to nothing to do with the story line anymore, and were just a simple grind fest to get to level 80 so you could get back to azeroth to continue the new quests.

The result is I've stopped playing. I don't think I'll ever be going back. I did try Rift, and was lucky enought to get into beta early. it was about a week before release, I had two copies of the collectors edition on pre-order.. then I got addicted to ... minecraft.

This article is spot on. Rift definitely plays a major part in the decrease of subscribers. Even before Rift was officially released, I was playing it more than WoW. Same went for a number of guild mates. When rift did come out, we quit for the most part and shortly after that we disbanded our guild. Now there is only one guild Horde side that even raids. I thought maybe it was just us and out server, but clearly not. It's a hard business keeping their game running for so long.

Xenosion said,
This article is spot on. Rift definitely plays a major part in the decrease of subscribers. Even before Rift was officially released, I was playing it more than WoW. Same went for a number of guild mates. When rift did come out, we quit for the most part and shortly after that we disbanded our guild. Now there is only one guild Horde side that even raids. I thought maybe it was just us and out server, but clearly not. It's a hard business keeping their game running for so long.

Not sure about you or what you find so exciting about Rift... I was bored 10 levels in, let alone if I had to force myself to go further. Yes, it is interesting with the rifts and all that stuff, but when you get ganked by the 5th invasion in 20 minutes... you tend to just say... "Meh, thanks, if I wanted that, I'd go play on a PvP server."

Metodi Mitov said,

Not sure about you or what you find so exciting about Rift... I was bored 10 levels in, let alone if I had to force myself to go further. Yes, it is interesting with the rifts and all that stuff, but when you get ganked by the 5th invasion in 20 minutes... you tend to just say... "Meh, thanks, if I wanted that, I'd go play on a PvP server."

You must really suck then, the invasion forces are on the map and show which direction they are going in. Even still you have more than enough time to get out of the way of them coming. Its not like they hunt you like players would on a pvp server. Rift is not that hard.

Games that are competing with better content and not such a grind are coming out. More eye appealing games, better content, things to keep the player interested. Blizzard really screwed Druids recently and I'm sure more classes will follow un-necessary castrations. They gave me a free 7-day return which I am taking advantage of, but I'm waiting for SW:TOR. Rift was just as boring as WoW is after you hit max level. Hell I was so bored, I re-subbed to an 11-year old MMO that I first started playing when it came out.

I can't believe that people still play at the rate they do. They need to make it F2P if they want to see continued success in the future, imo.

NeoandGeo said,
I can't believe that people still play at the rate they do. They need to make it F2P if they want to see continued success in the future, imo.

It's still 11.4M subscribers ... why would they go F2P when 11.4 million people are willing to give them money every month ?

DrunkenBeard said,

It's still 11.4M subscribers ... why would they go F2P when 11.4 million people are willing to give them money every month ?

I think the Asian users are already on a pseudo-f2p network with internet cafe agreements, so it's not a simple, 11.4 million users x $14.99 a month gravy train. But I said for the future, if they want to continue to grow, they will more than likely need to change up the service.

NeoandGeo said,

I think the Asian users are already on a pseudo-f2p network with internet cafe agreements, so it's not a simple, 11.4 million users x $14.99 a month gravy train. But I said for the future, if they want to continue to grow, they will more than likely need to change up the service.


is it free in Asia?

NeoandGeo said,

It's not literally free, but it is significantly cheaper over there.

I think thats more due to Regulations limiting how much a person can play a mmo everyday, and increased competition. I think all mmo's have to do a hourly rate vs monthly. To many people hae died overthere because of the unlimited nature, why it was changed. But then again they also have IRL cafe/gang/clan fights over mmo toons also.

I dont know about others but I get bored after playing a game for 2 months....
If its just a single player then 2 or 3 weeks at the max.... I still dont understand how people play this for ages.

still1 said,
I dont know about others but I get bored after playing a game for 2 months....
If its just a single player then 2 or 3 weeks at the max.... I still dont understand how people play this for ages.

especially when your paying per month.. I played for one month everyday but just did not want to pay again.. Also just a thought that maybe the subscribers went down because its summer? I know alot of my friends try to quit there games for a while when summer starts..

still1 said,
I dont know about others but I get bored after playing a game for 2 months....
If its just a single player then 2 or 3 weeks at the max.... I still dont understand how people play this for ages.

I did play Guild Wars quite a while (~2-3 years) but I really have a hard time playing subscription games for long. I get kind of stressed when playing them. When things are going slow, I get a feeling that a taximeter is ticking. That efficiently robs me of any sort of immersion too.

I guess these games just aren't for me. And yes - I've tried. WoW, LOTRO, and AoC. Exact same thing happened in all of them after about a week.

Althought Cataclysm is much more fun and interactive than any of the previous content in the game, I was bored VERY quickly with the game, I had already completed each of the new zones (did ALL the quests not just blew through them) and Completed all of the 25 Heroic Content in just a few months. I ended up ending my subscription because i saw myself spending more time playing Minecraft than Wow

littleneutrino said,
Althought Cataclysm is much more fun and interactive than any of the previous content in the game, I was bored VERY quickly with the game, I had already completed each of the new zones (did ALL the quests not just blew through them) and Completed all of the 25 Heroic Content in just a few months. I ended up ending my subscription because i saw myself spending more time playing Minecraft than Wow

in just a few months.........

Months? I finished all the new content in 3 days. It was great to see the new phasing aspect where the environment changed as you progressed through the quest chains but the amount of new content was sorely lacking. When I got the Loremaster title for Cataclysm all I could muster was, "Meh. Now what...?".

Now with the addition of guild achievements, it's virtually impossible for a casual user to get into some of the end-game content (Bastion of Twilight, etc.). And has anyone been to Dalaran lately? I didn't think so. As soon as Cata came out Blizzard completely abandoned the Northrend content.

Sranshaft said,
As soon as Cata came out Blizzard completely abandoned the Old World content.

Fixed that for you.

Sranshaft said,
Now with the addition of guild achievements, it's virtually impossible for a casual user to get into some of the end-game content (Bastion of Twilight, etc.). And has anyone been to Dalaran lately? I didn't think so. As soon as Cata came out Blizzard completely abandoned the Northrend content.

Samething happen after each expansion... When Frozen Throne was release, everyone was at Dalaran and they abandonned Shattrath in the Outland (and nearly all the outland was abandonned too). When BC got out, this cause to empty other main city such as IF, SW and other such main city that was heavily used before BC.