In their latest quarterly report, Activision Blizzard reported the lowest World of Warcraft subscriber count in nearly a decade. Now, they will no longer be reporting subscriber numbers at all.
Since its debut in November of 2004, World of Warcraft has remained the standard by which all other online virtual worlds are judged. It’s the elephant in the room when any other MMO comes to market and an ever-present modern cultural touchstone. Even if you don’t play it, you’ve undoubtedly heard about it or read about people dying because they simply refused to stop playing it. It’s kind of a big deal.
After more than a decade spent utterly trampling any other attempts at a large scale online universe, the behemoth is finally beginning to wind itself down. At its peak, World of Warcraft boasted more than 12 million subscribers. The latest report has it at less than half, at 5.5. Even so, it’s still by far the most popular massively multiplayer game in the world.
Activision Blizzard claims, “There are other metrics that are better indicators of the overall Blizzard business performance.” No doubt that the sales of the upcoming Legion expansion will be one of these factors, as well as the company’s wildly popular Warcraft-themed digital card game, Hearthstone.
This is precisely the sort of circumstance in which Activision Blizzard likes to make big announcements. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this year’s BlizzCon provides a glimpse at their next big project. If nothing else, we know that they’ll be heavily promoting the new World of Warcraft movie. Numbers aside, their license to print money isn’t expiring any time soon.
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