World of Warcraft Reported to be Sitting at 10.1 Million Subscribers

About two months back, when Activision Blizzard announced their Q2 2016 results, I was speculating that they might be anxious to start talking about subscription numbers after vowing to not report on them about a year back.


That was an easy thing to vow when the game had bottomed out after the Draenor exodus, hitting subscriber numbers not seen since 2005.  But with the last quarterly report things were starting to look rosy again with the Legion expansion coming up, Blizzard was beating around the bush, trying to say how wonderful things were going without actually bringing out the number that would prove it.  Sure, the Legion expansion sold well on day one, but how many subscribers were there in the game?

Well, somebody couldn’t hold their tongue… somebody being Tom Chilton.  According to a report over at PvP Live, he said, in an interview with the Polish gaming magazine Pixel… well… the following:

Pixel: You guys reached your peak by capturing 12 million users. By the end of 2015 it was only 5.5 million, and after that Blizzard stopped providing statistics. Can we ask, about how many users currently have a paid subscription?

Chilton: As we speak, it’s about 10.1 million. It’s hard to say what future will bring. We have an internal competition in form of Overwatch, but it’s possible we will reach 12 million once again. The potential is there as there are over 100 million registered accounts.

Pixel is apparently a magazine is of the old school print variety, so no link to the original source in Polish, but translations have been popping up on Reddit and forums like NeoGAF. [Edit: Picture of the Polish text.]

So there it is, out in the open again, a subscriber number.  Another data point in the cycle of life that is MMORPGs.

Did Tom Chilton get advance clearance to talk about that number?  The man has blurted out some unfortunate things in the past that have come back to haunt the company, things like equating garrisons to housing and such.  Ah well.

And what does that number mean.  Blizzard’s partner in China recently changed over from an hourly to a monthly subscription model.  Did that change how the count was done?  Is it more accurate or less?

Finally, if he did get the okay, is this how it will be going forward, with Blizzard?  Are they going to tell us about peaks but go silent when it comes to valleys in the subscriber wave?

Hat tip to Liore for sending this my way.

Addendum: Blizzard denies everything.

“Our policy for almost a year now is that we do not talk about subscriber numbers,” said the Blizzard spokesperson. “And Tom did not do that with this publication.”

5 thoughts on “World of Warcraft Reported to be Sitting at 10.1 Million Subscribers

  1. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Alternative tabloid headlines for this post:

    -Blizzard Hates This Guy! How Tom Chilton Keeps Leaking All Their Secrets!
    -Did Blizz’s 90 million subscriber deficit keep them from paying any income tax?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. carson63000

    Haha, I knew it was a bad idea to announce to the public that you would no longer be announcing numbers to the public. Just keep your mouth shut and stop making announcements .. unless things go well and suddenly you want to announce again.


  3. SynCaine

    Tom clearly stated the number of subscribers (whatever ‘subscriber’ means at this point.)
    Blizzard says Tom didn’t talk about subscribers.

    When did Blizzard become SOE?


  4. Marathal

    Chilton announces 10 million subs, previous quarterly reports were in error as subs had been deleted from servers.


  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    I like the comments on various news reports on this claiming that a senior guy like Tom Chilton would never reveal info like that. He is literally the most likely guy to do so, being both senior enough to be in the know and having a record of unfortunate comments, like the time at BlizzCon when he said that Warlords of Draenor was further along than expected, leading fans to expect an early release. Still took two years to get out.


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