Activision Blizzard Making More Money, WoW over 10 Million Subscribers Still

The Activision Blizzard results for the fourth quarter of 2014 were announced yesterday and, to probably nobody’s surprise, the combined companies reported making huge amounts of money.

ActiBlizz450What with Destiny still selling well, the latest Call of Duty installment somewhere out there, a World of Warcraft expansion, and Hearthstone apparently worthy of repeated mentions, the money was pouring in.

Actual footage of Bobby Kotick and Mike Morhaime during the call

Actual footage of Mike Morhaime and Bobby Kotick during the call

You can find summaries of the announcements around the web, or you can go to the Activision investor relations site to see the full financial report and the presentations.

Of course, I am more interested in Blizzard around here than the Call of Duty Activision side of the house.  The Blizzard slide shows about what we would expect.  Best annual revenues ever.  More registered users.  More good stuff coming.

Blizzard slide from the presentation deck

Blizzard slide from the presentation deck

Still, there is a point there that will be seen by some as losing by not winning enough.  Only 10 million subscribers?

I know, it says “over” 10 million, but if it was over, say, 10.5 million, they would have said over 10.5 million.  Past behavior indicates that.

And 10 million was the number they gave back in November after the expansion finally came out.  That only got us up to the Mists of Pandaria peak.  With the history of the game, anything less than 12 million will be failure in the eyes of some.

But at least this chart hasn't changed!

But at least this chart hasn’t changed!  Lich King, Best King!

Of course, that dissatisfaction with not getting back to the peak subscriber number ignores the scale of WoW’s subscriber base.  The jump from 7.4 million subscribers to over 10 million at the launch of Warlords of Draenor… 2.6 million subscribers… how many other popular MMOs would we have to stack up before we hit 2.6 million subscribers?  Not just registered users or those tagging along for free, but people who signed up to pay that $15 a month?  And what about that 10 million number?

The churn of users just coming and going since the expansion launched would probably kill some games.  You can sure as shit bet if EverQuest II had 10 million subscribers… or 7.4 million… or even 2.6 million… Smed would be telling the PlayStation people what to do rather than being sold into bondage.

World of Warcraft remains the outlier that distorts the scale when we talking about MMOs.  Comparing it to other things just doesn’t work, because even down from its peak it is still too big.

Anyway, that is the big news from Blizzard.  All money, all the time.

Oh… and one more thing.  StarCraft II – Legacy of the Void.  The mention of it being the “Final” expansion to the StarCraft II series stands out for me.  Maybe they said that back at BlizzCon and I missed it, but seeing that word “Final” on the financial presentation makes it stand out for me.

So what will the RTS team at Blizzard be doing when they have wrapped that up?

Should we read anything into the fact that the RTS team appears to be playing around with the Warcraft III assets?

7 thoughts on “Activision Blizzard Making More Money, WoW over 10 Million Subscribers Still

  1. Khoram

    So I guess Diablo is dead, huh? Figures, just as I got back into it….
    Seriously, just release a $20 expansion pack twice a year with more goodies and a level increase every year or so and I bet a large portion of the 15 million people who bought D3 would buy them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Khaoram – I think there are some Diablo characters in Heroes of the Storm… um.

    Given the past experience with Diablo, I would say rather that it has returned to its dormant state again, waiting for the call to return when Blizzard once again realizes that WoW is pretty much paying all the bills. It can then be resurrected to inject another quarter of revenue boosts.


  3. SynCaine

    Odd that they don’t provide numbers beyond accounts for Hearthstone, because as you said, anytime Blizzard has a good number to share (copies sold, number of players, etc) they share it. Also the report specifically says 25m account at the end of 2014, so unless they gained 50m accounts in Jan, that rumored amount of 75m appears to be incorrect.


  4. Matt

    Not really odd, as they don’t seem to provide numbers beyond accounts for anything.

    The most alarming thing, even for me who doesn’t even play Starcraft, is that the new expansion/game/thing is only expected to enter beta this year. What, do they have like 4 people and a couple of janitors working on this thing?


  5. Jaedia

    Definitely interesting, particularly the World of Warcraft subscriber numbers. As for Hearthstone, I’d actually heard the number was closer to 75 million which is actually insane. It’s a little bit frightening to see one company dominate so much but at least it shows there’s still life in this side of the gaming market. :)


  6. SynCaine

    “Not really odd, as they don’t seem to provide numbers beyond accounts for anything.”

    Destiny first day sales, CoD sales/activity/franchise stuff. Didn’t they give out how much money WoW was taking in during its prime? Either way, when the numbers are good/great, they certainly provide far more than just account numbers for games.


  7. sleepysam

    One other hearthstone note – I think it has dropped off the top 150 grossing in the app store. I wonder what the baseline amount of “grossing” approximates to get on that list.


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