Activision Blizzard reported that "World of Warcraft" subscriber numbers fell from 8.3 million to 7.7 million, a drop of 600,000 players, according to Game Zone. Why has this happened?
When Blizzard released "Mysts of Pandaria," the latest "World of Warcraft" expansion pack on Sept. 25 of last year, the game's subscriber base surpassed the 10 million mark. So why the sharp drop less than a year later?
It seems as if there's a pattern at work here. It appears as if a sizable amount of seasoned "WoW" players wait for new content to be released in the form of substantial patches and/or expansion packs, at which point they reactivate their accounts and play through all the new content, only to deactivate their accounts again until the next batch of new content is released. Rinse and repeat. Is this the only factor behind why "WoW" subscriber numbers have fallen? We don't think so.
Highly popular MOBA games like "League of Legends" and "DOTA 2" could also be to blame for "World of Warcraft"'s shrinking active player base. "League of Legends" and "DOTA 2" have both casual and fiercely competitive communities that participate in tournaments and compete for substantial cash prizes. Beyond that, the "League of Legends" player base is absolutely massive.
"League of Legends" had 32 million monthly active players as of October, according to Forbes. "LoL" also had 12 million daily active players at the time the report claims, which is roughly the amount of active user accounts that "World of Warcraft" had at its peak. "DOTA 2" has reached over 300,000 simultaneous users according to a report by PCGamer in May, breaking records. Considering the wild popularity of both "League of Legends" and "DOTA 2," it's not unreasonable to conclude that these two games are pulling some players away from "World of Warcraft."
So what can Blizzard expect to see with its "World of Warcraft" active subscription base? Likely more of the same, and we think Blizzard realizes that "World of Warcraft" subscription numbers live and die in part by the new content that the company releases for the game. After all, Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick stated in May that the company planned to create new "World of Warcraft" content faster. That seems to be the best strategy Blizzard could employ to stave off further desertion by "WoW" users.
What do you think of "World of Warcraft" subscriber numbers falling to 7.7 million? Why do you think that has happened? Do you think that has anything to do with the popularity of games like "League of Legends" and "DOTA 2?" Why or why not? Which of these three games do you prefer and why? What do you think Blizzard should do that could keep "WoW" players from leaving the game entirely? Sound off in the comments below.
I cover video games, tech, privacy issues and more for IBT. Prior to joining the staff, I wrote for Major League Baseball, Computer Shopper and other publications. I earned...
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