It seems like World of Warcraft has lost more battleground in the massively multiplayer online role playing game scene.
Activision Blizzard's extremely popular fantasy MMO has lost another 800,000 subscribers as of Sept. 30, the company announced in a conference call. WoW's peak subscription base hit 12 million players in October of 2010. Then it dropped to about 11.1 million users worldwide in June of 2011. At the end of September the player count is now down to 10.3 million players. However, the game is still the most popular subscription-based MMO's in the world.
The company says a majority of the lost players come from Asian markets. It also said that the losses are due to players being able to consume new content more efficiently. The game's latest expansion Cataclysm, launched December of 2010, but failed to retain many long-time subscribers. Most gamers reactivated their accounts, gobbled up the new content, then turned around and unsubscribed.
The company has deployed a few strategies to get their subscription base back up. Blizzard recently announced a new annual pass, bribing players with a few in-game goodies and a copy if the highly-anticipated upcoming game, Diablo III. But to receive the digital loot, players must agree to a full year of game subscription, with no way to break the agreement. The company is also about to release a new content pack. However, the patch is more along the lines of usual maintenance rather than a way to drive subscribers.
Blizzard announced a new expansion pack, Mist of Pandaria, at the company's recent gaming convention, BlizzCon. The forth expansion will raise the level cap to 90, up from 85. It also debuts a new continent and playable class, the Monk. No telling whether the new content will drive players back to the game, or keep them entertained for long.
If WoW can't keep players attentions it may be an opening for competitors. Bioware is about to launch another subscription-base MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. It takes place a few thousand years before the movies, but plays off the company's successful RPG franchise Knights of the Old Republic. Bioware has put a substantial amount of resources into the game, and WoW's weakening subscription base may be just what SWTOR needs to take the MMO crown.
Blizzard hasn't announced when Mist of Pandaria will release in its typical it's-done-when-it's-done style. However, it probably won't be able to get it out before Bioware launches SWOTAR Dec. 20.