Daily Archives: August 23, 2018

WoW Battle for Azeroth Sales Stacked Up Against Past Releases

Fortunately I did some of the groundwork for this post back with the WoW Legion release.

It is here and it is selling

Blizzard announced today that the Battle for Azeroth expansion for World of Warcraft, which went live around the world on August 13th and 14th, sold more than 3.4 million copies.  From the press release itself:

Heroes everywhere turned out in force, and Blizzard Entertainment today announced that as of Battle for Azeroth’s first full day of launch on August 14, more than 3.4 million units of the latest World of Warcraft®expansion had sold through worldwide—setting a new day-one sales record for the franchise and making it one of the fastest-selling PC games of all-time.*

I was a little worried about that asterisk at the end, but that just points to this:

Sales and/or downloads, based on internal company records and reports from key distribution partners.

So nothing dramatic there, just a clarification without much information.

To put that number in perspective here is how it shakes out relative to past launches:

  • Battle for Azeroth – 3.4 million
  • WoW Legion – 3.3 million
  • Warlords of Draenor – 3.3 million
  • Mists of Pandaria – 2.7 million (first week)
  • Cataclysm – 3.3 million
  • Wrath of the Lich King – 2.8 million
  • The Burning Crusade – 2.4 million
  • World of Warcraft – 240,000

That bodes well for the expansion.

Of course, you have to have some perspective when looking at that list.  Back in 2004 people had to go buy a physical box to play World of Warcraft and it has only been over the years that the process has become mostly a digital download experience.  But back then even that 240K number set a record for single day sales.  That number could have been bigger, but they effectively ran out of copies.  At BlizzCon they told the tale of the truck load of collector’s editions meant for employees being diverted to the retail channel because the game had sold out.  And that was US sales only, as it didn’t expand to the rest of the world until later.

The Burning Crusade number is probably the most impressive on the list, since it is made up of people who went out to a store and bought a physical copy on day one.  I went down to Fry’s on launch day… not at midnight for the launch party event… that used to be a thing back in the day… but closer to noon, to find pallets of the expansion out in the front of the store.  Blizzard was not going to run short like they did with the initial launch.  The cashier told me that people had been lined up outside the store for a copy earlier, so it was a pretty big deal.

I think the last time I went to the store to buy an expansion was for Wrath of the Lich King.  It has either been digital or Amazon discounted pre-orders since then.  WotLK was also a big seller considering how much of it was physical boxes.

And then there is Mists of Pandaria in the middle there, which they extended out to the first week of sales because it had to fight against both the sense of betrayal that some felt after Cataclysm and the lightweight perception that people had about it because it featured Pokemon-like pet battles and pandas as a race.  It turned out to be a fine expansion, but it had some work to do to overcome that.  I didn’t buy a copy until almost a year after it launched.

Anyway, the 3.4 million number is impressive, though the there ought to be an asterisk after it as well to remind people that the number includes all pre-launch digital sales.  You’ve been able to buy a copy of Battle for Azeroth since late January, so they have had a lot of time to pack in the sales, making the “fastest selling” claim a bit dubious.  (I am pretty sure that title really belongs to The Burning Crusade.)

But there were reasons to buy the expansion early, aside from the usual max level character boost (and mounts and pets if you bought the digital deluxe version).

There were four allied races to unlock (for which we received four more character slots per server) and level up, with special transmog gear if you hit level cap with them.  So, as a “giving people something to do” option it had some additional pull relative to past expansions.  And even that was only worth an additional 100,000 sales I guess.

The real number we’d all like to know, how many people are actually subscribed to World of Warcraft, remains hidden.  Once a staple of the Acitivision-Blizzard quarterly reports, they have kept it hidden since the dark days of late Draenor, when the number dropped to 2006 levels.  I suspect that if the subscriber base passed 13 million they would issue a press release, but the days of being able to track that quarter by quarter… or even pick out WoW‘s revenue from the financial statements… are long gone.  The irony of being a public company; they are required to report important data, but they get to decide what is important.

We will see how Battle for Azeroth does in the longer term.  A lot of people are very happy with the open world story and quest lines and the look of things in general.  But there is still the whole question of Sylvanas, a story line that upset some people in the pre-launch events. (#notmyhorde) And then there are the recycled bits from WoW Legion that pop up pretty quickly.  Those aren’t bad, but they aren’t new either.  Blizzard has had time to learn how to keep people engaged with an expansion.  They did well enough with WoW Legion, even if they did open up the Battle for Azeroth pre-orders seven months before it was done.  They will get to show us what else they have learned I suppose.

A Drive Down to Delve for Rats and a Raitaru

The early ping said that there was an op planned for 02:00 EVE Online time, which is just about the optimal time for me.  That left enough time to get home, take care of various tasks (it was garbage night, among other things), have dinner, and watch a bit of TV with my wife (Lodge 49) before wandering off to play internet spaceships for a couple of hours.

With all that lined up I seemed set for the evening.

Of course AMC doesn’t just keep you from fast forwarding through commercials when watching their programs on demand, they actually inject more commercials into the stream so the show episode we watched, Corpus, ran well over an hour and into the start time for the op.  I left my wife at the credits and strode over to my computer and started logging into voice coms and the game.

As I did that I noticed a fifteen minute old ping from Asher apologizing for the early start for the op.  I was late, and late enough that I considered just going back to the couch to watch another episode.  I might have done just that if I was more enthusiastic about Lodge 49, but as it was I had already logged in so I figured I might as well ask the usual late-comer’s question, “Can I catch up?”

And it turned out that I could.  The early form up was to cover a Raitaru that was anchoring just one jump away, so I undocked in my Oneiros and warped off to join the group.

There we sat tethered on the Raitaru for a bit until the repair cycle ended, after which we aligned for the gate through which we came.  Once through though we did not align for the station.  Instead Asher warped us to a POS where a titan was waiting.  As usual, being the non-GSF member in the fleet, I bounced off the forcefield and they had to give me the starbase password to enter.  I did that, warped off, then warped back to Asher to find myself in and on the titan ready for a bridge.

The titan sent us on our way, though we seemed to be going in an odd direction.  When we passed through J5A-IX, the gateway to Fountain and a scene of many of the early fights in the Fountain War, I began to wonder where we were headed.  But I was also distracted by a survey from Blizzard about the Battle for Azeroth expansion… which was asking for a lot of detail just a week into the damn thing… so I was mostly tabbing back and forth and not paying close attention.

The gate to ZXB-VC however triggered a something in the back of my brain.

I’ve been here before… I’m sure of it…

Then we jumped through and we were in Delve.

Delve, the highlight of every Monthly Economic Report, the home of excessive ratting, mining, and industry, and a place I had only been back to once since we deployed up to Pure Blind late last year.  You can rest assured that I have added nothing to those numbers that get reported for the region.

There it is, DELVE, and us spread out over the map

The question of the hour at that point was why couldn’t we just jump clone back to Delve?  Or, better still, wasn’t there somebody in Delve who could take care of whatever needed doing?  did we really have to fly all the way down from Pure Blind?

I guess we did.

We took a jump bridge to get deeper into Delve, but with the titan bridge and the jump bridge and a fleet that some people were on earlier, we had some jump fatigue to wear down.  Also, apparently we were early for whatever it was we had to do.  So Asher took us ratting.

Shooting up a Blood Raiders Sanctum

That went by quickly so we ended up in another anomaly shooting more Blood Raiders.

It was pretty, I will say that

We were hoping for a dreadnought spawn on it, but no luck.  After pottering around doing that… from which I walked away with a cool 807,000 ISK, so will surely skew the monthly totals… we were finally off to the real target.  This turned out to be a Raitaru anchoring in M5-CGW which NCDot had dropped.

The repair timer was running and had just five minutes left on it.

The timer paused

We paused the timer with our firepower almost immediately, then anchored up on Asher and followed him as he meandered through the structure, trying to wipe us off on various protuberances, before he finally settled into a pocket at the front of the model.

He is in there somewhere…

Most of the fleet was taken up with talk on various nerd topics, including video games, Magic the Gathering, and fantasy football.  As somebody observed, there was something there for everybody to roll their eyes and tire of quickly.

Nobody came to defend the structure.  NCDot was likely already sated having already wiped out a fleet from The Bastion earlier.  Dropping a 600 million ISK Raitaru to get nearly 30 billion in kills is a worthwhile investment.  So we just shot it until it blew up in that satisfying way that Upwell structures do.

The wreck in the midst of the receding explosion

We got a kill… and it wasn’t like our fleet was the one that got worked over.

There was some talk of blowing up the wreck to keep anybody from salvaging it, but we were already facing the drive home and decided to skip that step.  Instead it was back into Fountain where we caught a jump bridge that cut a good chunk off the trip.  From there we headed to a Fortizar that was within titan bridge range of our staging.

However, even with the reduced jump fatigue, having made a few jumps already during the evening, we still had a good fifteen minutes before we could be bridged.  We decided to wait it out on the titan, setting a timer to remind everybody to wake up again and be ready to jump.

At that point somebody joked about how funny it would be if, once we were all back on the titan, Asher mis-clicked and did the classic “jump instead of bridge” mistake and left us all behind.

Picture source: unknown

When the timer rang we all got back in front of our screens ready to go, watching the titan for the bridge effect to go up.

Waiting for the moment

And then Asher selected “jump” and disappeared.

Yeah, he was just there

Even though I was half expecting it I still missed the screen shot of the jump effect gathering about his Ragnarok as he jumped away.  He had also muted and deafened himself on Mumble, so we were all left there with the nervous, “Ha ha, very funny… uh… you’re coming back right?  We’re not stuck here, right?”

It might have been funnier if it hadn’t been spoken before the event.  On the other hand, if it hadn’t we might not have believed he did it on purpose.  An FC who makes that error ends up with that sticking to their reputation.

Thinking we might have to wait out his orange jump timer, we hung around on the Fortizar wondering if it was time to dock up and call it a night, just bite the bullet and burn to our staging, or wait.   But as we waited a cyno went up and another titan… or at least another titan pilot of Asher’s… landed back on us.

We got in range and he bridged us back to our staging where we docked up for the night.

The bridge up at last

Asher, who had already thrown us one PAP added another one as the fleet uptime had passed the three hour mark.

Not a bad evening.  Being fleet coms is the entertainment on ops like that.  And it certainly wasn’t the first time that I was in a fleet that went all the way down to Delve just to shoot a structure.  I wouldn’t want to make it a regular event, but I’ve certainly been on much worse ops.

As for Lodge 49, I am just not sure I am feeling it… though the extra dose of commercial interruptions isn’t helping either.  I am too used to straight through, commercial free binge watching with Netflix or HBO.