Quote of the Day for WoW Classic Fans

World of Warcraft® Classic drove the biggest quarterly increase to subscription plans in franchise history, in both the West and East.

-Activision-Blizzard Q3 2019 earnings report

WoW Classic brings another ray of sunshine.

Given what SuperData told us about WoW Classic previously, this was not unexpected.

This ray of sunshine however comes amidst some cloudy skies at A-B.

The company took a lot of heat at the start of the year when it announced layoffs in practically the same breath in which it announced record financial performances.  While people were outraged, the 2019 financial reports have supported the company’s pessimism.  Blizzard was especially hard hit with its margins dropping from 30% to 16% in Q1 2019 as Battle for Azeroth shed players while the company had nothing else new to attract people.  And things have remained down.  The charts show that Blizz has recovered a bit on margins, but now Activision is was down.

Activision Blizzard Q3 2019 Financial Results Presentation – Slide 9

And the talk at the presentation was largely about the long term tent pole products, Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.  Even as they try to diversify their stable of titles, the old champions have to carry water for everybody.  Even the up part of company, King and its mobile games, the emphasis was on the Candy Crush franchise.

This is a very common problem, creating a popular and very profitable product then never being able to create something that could match, much less surpass, that product.

There was even mention of possibly beefing up the WoW team.  And, it was recognized that WoW Classic gave the company a boost during an “off” year when WoW did not have an expansion set to go.  There was some uncertainty about how sustainable WoW Classic would be over the long term.  And certainly, if they don’t do anything else with it, it will dwindle off to a much smaller population.

Finally, Q3 ended on September 30, 2019.  The Hong Kong debacle did not come to pass until mid-October, so that may put something of a damper on Blizzard numbers for Q4.  Opening up pre-orders for Shadowlands during BlizzCon may offset that somewhat, but that is a short term solution for a long term problem.

You can find all of the quarterly result information at the Activision Blizzard investor relations site.

7 thoughts on “Quote of the Day for WoW Classic Fans

  1. zaphod6502

    All that goodwill and great Classic news completely undone by the idiotic management at Blizzard and their PR nightmare with the Hong Kong situation. I just shake my head at the utter stupidity of Blizzard management.

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  2. Esteban

    World of Warcraft® Classic drove the biggest quarterly increase to subscription plans in franchise history, in both the West and East.

    Interesting wording. Reminds me a bit of those ‘Most Improved’ awards.

    I am annoyed at the muddle that the Hong Kong business may have introduced into October/Q4 data, because I see that as the true indication of Classic’s legs – a player merely following the hype would have been subbed through September, even if they ended up hating the thing and cancelling at once.

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  3. fatherofdaughters

    I am sure this will all make an interesting case study for future MBA students. The organisation has become so focussed on extracting the maximum revenus its current products that it has lost all capacity to develop innovative new products to replace them.

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  4. SynCaine

    Confirming what most of us already knew, but hey at least its now official and we can put the ‘maybe its just a lot of Retail players trying it out’ thing to bed.

    The fact that they haven’t already announced expanded plans for Classic (new content, faster phasing, something!) is why New Blizzard is New Blizzard. Treating the game that currently has the most paying players like a normal nostalgia server, with the expectation that it will just fade away and you shouldn’t or can’t do anything but enjoy the ride, is insane.

    100% sure that if tomorrow they announce new content for Classic, a LOT of people come back or recommit to playing long-term, and the whole mentality of everyone playing changes for the better (live supported MMO vs defined nostalgia trip). The issue isn’t the game, its that the ride to 60 is only so long, and of course once that’s over people drift away. That Blizzard hasn’t acknowledged that and done ANYTHING about it is borderline criminal.

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  5. kiantremayne

    I would make three predictions for Q4:
    1) The impact of the Hong Kong thing won’t even register on the financials. It’s been a big deal in the MMO blogging/news bubble, but that’s a tiny bubble, and I don’t think it really got much attention outside the bubble. 40-50 protestors at BlizzCon and one guy in a Winnie the Pooh costume doesn’t exactly scream mass outrage, and Blizzconners are going to be more engaged with Blizzard news than most of their players.
    2) There will be a drop off in WoW Classic players in Q4. It’s not going to be dead, or anywhere near it, but not everyone who played it will decide it’s their forever game and for those who aren’t, by the end of Q4 an increasing number will have hit level 60 and taken a look at the raids currently available and called it a day, at least until the next raid opens up.
    3) Regardless of the actual cause, any drop-off in subs will be attributed to people’s pet theories: that it’s a woke rebellion and boycott, or that Classic is flatlining, or the government is abducting people who play Alliance and secreting them in Area 51 as part of Donald Trump’s nefarious plan to destroy PvP balance.

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  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Esteban – Based on this and previous comments, you seem invested in proving WoW Classic has done poorly. You have shown disdain for any evidence that goes against your obvious intent. Have you considered a career in politics?

    @SynCaine – Blizz, new or old, has always been somewhat plodding in their pace. The mention of WoW Classic being a good off-year boost seemed like something of a positive sign. The problem is that means that we’ll hear about plans at the next BlizzCon and whatever they have in mind might go into production in 2021.

    @kiantremayne – There is certainly some question as to how much impact Hong Kong has had. While it did get some wider coverage in the gaming press, I have noted as well that we’re in something of an outlier bubble. The world is not as Massively OP attempts to portray it.

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  7. Esteban

    Do play nice, Wilhelm. I’ll happily acknowledge that Classic has exceeded my initial expectations – by virtue of its having been made at all, in terms of the amount of hype/enthusiasm/subs the idea of it was able to generate, and by surviving the initial encounter with the player base. At least judging from positive engagement by many streamers and bloggers.

    I just don’t think much evidence is in yet with regard to its reception beyond ‘definitely worth checking out and throwing a (single) sub at’. Which, granted, is not nothing, but I don’t believe ‘we think we do’ has ever been in question.

    As to my ongoing investment in Classic’s fortunes, I am very comfortable with the possibility of being proven wrong about its medium-to-long term appeal (and by extension about what makes a good modern MMO) if those Q4 numbers and other metrics come roaring in to that effect. Exactly in the way, come to think of it, that I wouldn’t be, were the subject matter more serious and impactful on lives and society. Perhaps that’s what stands athwart my political career: insufficient cynicism coupled with a serious risk of actually believing in a cause.

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