Well now we know why Blizzard was keen to announce a new expansion the day after tomorrow, as subscription numbers are officially down to what was announced back in December of 2005, or 5.6 million. That is a drop of 1.5 million subscribers from the 7.1 million number reported at the end of the first quarter, something of a rebuke to the long-term viability of the Warlords of Draenor garrison strategy, which saw subscribers peak at 10 million at launch.
Basically, 44% of WoW subscribers have walked away since the current expansion launched.
So we have a day to indulge in “WoW is dying” hysteria before we are all swept off our collective feet and pledge ourselves anew to the promise of a fresh expansion in Azeroth.
The loss in subscribers was, once again, pinned largely on declines in Asia, purportedly driven by the popularity of Diablo III, which recently launched in China. Diablo III has sold more than 30 million units world wide now, but is it really stealing from WoW? Blizzard refused to get pinned down on specifics despite direct questions on the investor call.
Still, given the actual financial numbers coming out of the Blizzard side of the house, which are at record highs, somebody is clearly spending money on their products. The page for Blizzard from the presentation slide deck is as follows:
The slide deck and detailed financials can be found at the investor relations site.
The blurb at the top in blue is an attempt to say that monthly active users was up 50% over Q2 last year, which means that more people are playing Blizzard games than last year.
Hearthstone especially was mentioned multiple times during both the whole company overview and then again during the Blizzard specific segment of the call. Once again though, its numbers are coyly lumped in with those of Destiny and Heroes of the Storm, for a combined lifetime total of $1.2 billion.
Still, even though I want to know how that really breaks out between the those games, it is a sizable amount of revenue for three titles.
Of course the big question now, beyond what the new expansion will contain, is when will it launch? An expansion a year out, which is a pretty typical gap between announcement and launch for Blizzard, would no doubt see more subscriber losses as there is no new content planned for Warlords of Draenor.
And what do we even want out of the next expansion? I am not sure I even know anymore. Is there anything Blizz could do that wouldn’t annoy as many people as it pleased?
MMO Champion has a good subscriber chart embedded in their post if you want to see the subscriber line going up and down over the years. I have all the numbers in a spreadsheet, but cannot make Excel behave the way they can.
And, finally, this is how the poll I put up last week fared.
I would call those who picked 5.5 million the “winners” I suppose. The “other” response was 42.