SuperData says WoW Classic Driving Subscription Growth

You need this.  You don’t think you do, but you do.

-Me, to J. Allen Brack

SuperData Research is out with its monthly digital revenue chart, so we get to see how things did in August.

SuperData Research Top 10 – August 2019

And August has a few things to note when it comes to the PC side of the chart.

For openers, Dungeon Fighter Online held on to the top spot again this month, keeping League of Legends at bay.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds fell off the list, having surged back last month due to a price cut for the game.

Replacing PUBG was Hearthstone, which had the Saviors of Uldum expansion go live in early August.  Twelve expansions and still able to make the chart.

But the big item was World of Warcraft, which had fallen off the list completely for a few months this year before returning to seventh position.  It jumped up into third place for August, breaking through the solid wall that has been the top six games for most of 2019.

The reason for the jump was specifically called out in a bullet point in the report:

  • WoW Classic drives a huge jump in subscribers. World of Warcraft subscription revenue grew an estimated 223% in August compared to July. Despite this, total revenue was still lower than the Battle for Azeroth expansion last August.

I am sure the total revenue comment has some retail loyalist, sullen that half their guild ditched BFA for the nostalgia ride, happily pointing at that as proof that WoW Classic is all that big of a deal.

Here is the thing.  A year ago BFA had box sales to bolster total revenue.  WoW Classic was free to subscribers.  So that isn’t exactly a bragging point.  And the fact that WoW Classic was able to boost subscriptions by that much is something of an indictment of BFA’s popularity, or lack thereof.

I’ve said that BlizzCon is going to be interesting in light of the success of WoW Classic, but now the Q3 financial reports will be something to watch as well.  Something else to tune into in November.

In the center, Fortnite recaptured the top of the chart again, sending Grand Theft Auto V and its casino gambit down to third place.  Still, respect for the aging game and its ability to hold on.

It also marks a month when Nintendo, which still depends heavily on the physical retail channel, has three Switch exclusive  titles in the top ten, with Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Super Mario Maker 2.0, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate all accounted for.

And on the mobile end of the chart Pokemon Go took the top spot, which also earned it a specific mention in the notes:

  • Pokémon GO rises to the top spot on mobile. Pokémon GO generated $176 million in August, marking its highest point since peaking in 2016. Outperformance was partly driven by a flurry of in-game events as Niantic capitalized on what is typically the game’s strongest month.

Candy Crush Saga stayed on the chart, but fell two spots, landing in fifth position for August.

Meanwhile, the comparison list from NPD of August sales is also available.  They show the following:

  1. Madden NFL 20
  2. Minecraft
  3. Grand Theft Auto V
  4. Fire Emblem: Three Houses*
  5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate*
  6. Super Mario Maker 2*
  7. Mario Kart 8*
  8. Mortal Kombat 11
  9. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege
  10. Astral Chain*

* No digital sales included in ranking.

NPD is US numbers and focused on retail, with some digital sales included.  So oriented, we see five titles for the Nintendo Switch in the top ten.  They also mention in the notes attached to their Speedrun newsletter that the Nintendo Switch was the best selling console in August as well as for 2019 overall.

Also up there was Minecraft, which was in fifth position last month.

For EEDAR’s social media impressions DOTA 2 led the pack, followed by League of Legends, Fortnite, World of Warcraft, and Grand Theft Auto V.

Other items from the SuperData report:

  • Mobile grows share of total worldwide spending. Consumers spent $8.9 billion digitally worldwide in August across console, PC and mobile, up 2% from last year. Mobile, which was the fastest-growing segment, made up 62% of the total compared to 57% last August.
  • Madden NFL 20 console digital sales come in slightly below last year’s launch. When accounting for early pre-order launch dates, which split sales across July and August this year, Madden NFL 20 console digital units declined 6% compared to Madden NFL 19 through the end of August.
  • NBA 2K in-game spending growth slows ahead of upcoming launch. We estimate NBA 2K franchise in-game spending grew 39% year-over-year, a comparatively weak showing compared to the first seven months of 2019 where sales grew at an average rate of 91%. However, we note that August tends to be a seasonally low point for the franchise.

5 thoughts on “SuperData says WoW Classic Driving Subscription Growth

  1. Archey

    First off, perfect quote at the head of the article.

    Interesting thing about those WoW numbers is that Classic launched at the end of August iirc, so that mostly represents the people subbing in advance. I’m curious to see the September numbers with the first full month of Classic, as slowcoaches such as myself hop aboard. Not to mention how many of those subs stick around in subsequent months.

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Archey – That quote is the gift that keeps on giving, though I will cut JAB some slack if he comes out at BlizzCon and says that we really did want what we said we wanted. Until then though it is fair game.

    WoW Classic did only hit at the end of August, going live on the afternoon of the 26th for me. But Blizz had a couple of hooks to get people to subscribe early.

    The last load test ran from Thursday August 8th through that weekend and was open to all WoW subscribers.

    And then there was the name reservation thing the following Monday which got such a big response that they started adding servers that week. And then more servers. And then even more.

    But yes, there is always a group of people who show up fashionably late. We’ll see if what influence they have next month.

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  3. Shintar

    To me the BFA comment felt like something Blizzard themselves might have included just to forestall any sort of “Classic more popular than current game” angle on the reporting. Though like you said, BFA’s launch included box sales worth four months of sub time each, so it’s hardly a meaningful comparison…

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  4. SynCaine

    If revenue increased 223%, how is that not definitive proof (assuming you trust SuperData anyway) that Classic, in that month, is already bigger than Retail? We know most if not all of that increase is because of Classic, PLUS some of the existing revenue (Retail subs) are now also playing Classic. If anything, the split might be closer to 70/30 right now for Classic/Retail rather than something around 50/50.

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  5. Pingback: WoW Classic and TFT, by the numbers | Hardcore Casual

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