A post published by Activision Blizzard details the ongoing financial woes for its iconic online title, World Of Warcraft, as the MMO lost a further 600,000 subscribers in the last three months, thereby rounding its player base off at 7.7 million subscribers. While the lucrative franchise remains ahead of its competition by a fair margin, this unmitigated decline brings the number of subscribers down to a level comparable with the year 2007 – which marked the launch of the first expansion pack; The Burning Crusade.
As these figures are based on internal estimates by the company, there is no doubting the fledging status of World Of Warcraft. In truth, 2013 has been a turbulent year for Blizzard’s IP. Having lost a substantial portion of its audience earlier in the year, Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick has claimed that, in order to quell the exodus, the company aim to launch additional content more frequently to maintain the MMO’s lasting appeal, particularly coming up to the competitive holiday season.
Undoubtedly, this is a sure sign of the genre’s ongoing state of flux – as free-to-play MMOs and other business models swell in popularity. Indeed there are inklings as to what measures Blizzard will take in order to steer World Of Warcraft back on course or, at the very least, force the subscription level to plateau for the foreseeable future. We understand that the publisher has made plans to implement an in-game store which would allow players to purchase a variety of items orientated to boost levelling, coupled with promise of an increase in content.
Nonetheless, it’ll be interesting to see whether Aezroth can retain its place above the competition as the most appealing MMO environment in the coming months. Considering that Blizzard’s MMO peaked at 12 million subscribers in October, 2010 – which was achieved two months prior to the release of Cataclysm – today’s data ultimately conveys the stark reality of the genre’s altering landscape.
However, after nine long years on the gaming market that has resulted in unparalleled success, are these numbers a bad omen for the future of World Of Warcraft? Or do you foresee the game adapting – through means such as the aforementioned in-game store – in order to compete with the in vogue free-to-plays? Give us your thoughts below.