Over the past couple of years, World of Warcraft’s subscriber count appeared to be in a perpetual decline. With a hoard of free-to-play alternatives cropping up left, right, center, many considered the paid subscription model to be dead — particularly with titles like Star Wars: The Old Republic emerging behind the paywall in light of dwindling subscribers.
However, with the upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion pack due to release on November 13th, Activision-Blizzard’s genre-defining MMO received a welcome boost in players, with the subscription count now ebbing toward 7.4 million as of September 30th.
Indeed this boon arrives earlier than analysts expected; though the publisher attributes the spike in traffic to pre-expansion buzz along with the recent release of The Iron Tide patch. Available this week, the update introduces changes to the general user interface as well as updated character models.
Here’s a full breakdown of those new additions:
- Iron Horde Incursion World Event: players looking to upset the Iron Horde invasion can journey to the Blasted Lands to face down the onslaught and venture into the revamped five-player version of the Upper Blackrock Spire dungeon
- New Character Models: several of the game’s original races are new and improved, with increased resolution as well as updated animations and facial expressions
- Interface Improvements: questing is now easier than ever with an updated quest log and inventory changes, including a Toy Box for the fun items players acquire through their adventures
- Character and Class Changes: myriad character- and class-specific updates are now live, making this a great time for players to refamiliarize themselves with their characters ahead of the expansion’s launch
Looking to World of Warcraft’s immediate future, though, Activision-Blizzard forecast “at least 7.7m subscribers” by the end of 2014. To do this, the company is even offering new players the chance to gain access to all the game’s expansion packs — up to 2012’s — just for subscribing. Not a bad incentive for those yet to venture into the mystical realms of Azeroth.
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor will be available on November 13th. Will you be picking it up?