Blizzard Entertainment had the largest Q1 online player community in its history, up a double digit percentage year over year despite no major launches in the quarter. As expected and consistent with our experience following prior expansions, we saw a decline in the World of Warcraft subscriber number. Subscribers ended the quarter at 7.1 million. 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.
Activision-Blizzard Earnings Report for Q1 2015
The East is always letting World of Warcraft down. What is it they want over there?
Well, we knew subscriptions would go up when Warlords of Draenor shipped, though perhaps how early the number went up was a bit of a surprise. And it lasted through the end of 2014 as expected. The real question was how long the bad guys in Draenor could hold the 10 million subscriber number.
The answer is, apparently, less than six months.
Not that 7.1 million subscribers is anything to balk at. That is still a player base any four current MMOs could divide amongst themselves and each feel like a huge success. (And that same subscriber drop would kill any competitor.) But this is World of Warcraft and forever will that “more than 12 million” number dominate its destiny.
Of course, the money is still coming in hand over fist, though the strong dollar looks like it will be an issue.
Given the weakening of foreign currencies versus the U.S. dollar, the company’s 2015 international revenues and earnings are expected to be translated at lower rates than in 2014. This impacts the company’s 2015 outlook as compared to 2014 actual results given approximately 50% of the company’s revenues, and a higher percentage of profits, are generated outside the U.S.
So you have to have to wonder if the game will continue its “expansion about every two years” trajectory as subscribers bleed off during the between times. I won’t even say “the dead period” as there still seems to be a lot to do and more is coming up. But for some people, the leveling game is all she wrote, and those were a quick ten levels.
The report mentioned other irons that Blizzard has in the fire.
There was also a bit in there specifically about the WoW Token being launched. Though that might keep some gold-rich subscribers in the game longer, it isn’t any sort of revenue machine like the base subscription.
So are we going to see an expansion sooner this time around? Or will there just be more content released before the next box shows up?