Sound the alarm: Activision Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, the fantastically popular subscription-based massively multiplayer online game (say that three times fast) lost 1.1 million subscribers during the company’s second fiscal quarter of 2012.
But is that really that much of a problem?
Blizzard doesn’t seem to believe so. For starters, the loss puts World of Warcraft at a hefty 9.1 million players worldwide not exactly a small amount given that a paid-for MMO has yet to beat Activision Blizzard at its game, according to the latest figures from MMOData.net.
While the population drop is World of Warcraft’s largest over the past six fiscal quarters, it’s not as if all quitters are abandoning the world of Azeroth for good or Blizzard, for that matter.
“Contributing factors to the lower subscribers were likely the launch of Diablo III in the quarter, which provided consumers with an alternative gaming experience to World of Warcraft (although Diablo III has not yet launched in China), as well as the lack of new content patches in all geographies resulting in less overall game play,” reads a post by Blizzard representatives.
According to Activision Blizzard, Diablo 3 has sold 10 million copies (including 1.2 million who received the game as part of World of Warcraft’s annual pass subscription) since its May 15 launch. Additionally, 16.9 million additional users logged into Activision Blizzard’s Battle.net in July alone a figure that’s up 6.9 million from three months’ prior.
As more World of Warcraft subscribers were lost in areas like China, Taiwan, and Korea the “East,” as Activision Blizzard refers to it the company’s looking to launch World of Warcraft’s fourth major expansion, “Mists of Pandaria,” as soon as possible in China. Other regions might have to wait until September 25 in order to Kung Fu Panda their way around the new land of “Pandaria” (you guessed it).
According to Activision Blizzard president and co-founder, preorders for the expansion are, “off to a good start.”
It remains to be seen just how Blizzard’s Annual Pass promotion, as well as Mists of Pandaria’s appeal, will affect future subscription numbers. The former allows Blizzard to count players for a year’s worth of time even if they aren’t actually playing the game, and the latter is going to have to be Blizzard’s big home run to keep World of Warcraft fresh, interesting, and engaging for its slowly lowering subscriber base.
And who knows what might happen when Blizzard’s unannounced MMO, codenamed “Titan,” sees the light of day
For more tech tidbits from David Murphy, follow him on Facebook or Twitter (@thedavidmurphy).