In a press release from Activision, Blizzard revealed that World of Warcraft is down 1.5 million subscriptions since last quarter, with only 5.6 million now—a low the MMO hasn’t seen since 2005, just one year after its debut. It’s still a pretty substantial number, of course, but it’s likely that Blizzard is hoping WoW’s new expansion will help inflate the subscriptions a bit.
We’ll get more news about the new expansion, World of Warcraft’s sixth, at Gamescom tomorrow. The fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor, was released only last November. WoW did see a spike in subscriptions upon its release, but folks have apparently been falling off right and left since then.
World of Warcraft is, of course, more than 10 years old now. It’s not unusual for subscription-based games to lose players over time, even when gaining new ones. Personally I haven’t played since 2008, despite having spent most of age 16 glued to the screen; it just lost its charm for me, and I wanted something new. And I, like many, did try to pick it up again later, but by that point it felt like I was just repeating the same quests. It’s especially difficult, I believe, for players who aren’t all that into multiplayer stuff, to maintain interest. I know, I know—it’s World of Warcraft. Multiplayer is sort of the point, right? But not for everyone. Today I saw some folks complaining about lack of story development for the Alliance. I’ve heard others say they completed the single-player quest lines with a bunch of different characters, but didn’t have the time or energy to engage with the multiplayer community. I myself have just never been excited about joining raids or doing PvP (player vs. player) missions.
There’s only so much you can do in the same game for a decade, even with new expansions and updates. Graphics and gameplay become more outdated as time goes on. People find new games, or even new interests. Still, 5.6 million subscribers isn’t by any means a terrible number.