WoW Down to 5.6 Million Subs

[Blaugust Day 5]

Holy shit. WoW is down 1.5 million subs in three months.

Decade boomerang.

Decade boomerang.

As the graph from MMO-Champion indicates, the last time WoW had 5.6 million subs was back in December 2005. While there are quite a few people out there saying the expansion spike into Warlords “shouldn’t count” due to hype trains and such, it bears repeating that WoW had 10 million subscriptions six months ago. Four point four million subscriptions is a fucking genre’s worth of tourists.

Assuming you can still call the 1.5 million people who left between months 3 and 6 “tourists.”

For the record, Cataclysm dropped from 12 million at its height down to 9.1 million at the end, a 24% loss. Mists started at 10 million, and ended around 7.4 million, a 26% loss. Even if we completely disregard Warlords’ spike in subs for no reason, going from 7.4 million to 5.6 million is a – drumroll please – 24% loss. And the year is only half over. And the final raid has already been released more than a month ago.

When Blizzard said they wanted to speed up expansion cycles, I didn’t think they meant cramming in two years’ worth of losses into half a year.

I went ahead and listened to the conference call myself, but the MMO-Champ summary is pretty much spot on. The only thing I wanted to mention was how early on in the call they pointed to Hearthstone specifically as being one of the largest drivers of revenue in Q2. Which, of course it is, everyone knows that. Additionally, at some point during the call Blizzard admitted that Hearthstone, Diablo 3, and Heroes of the Storm combined made up the majority of Blizzard revenue in Q2. As in, at least 50% + 1. Who would have saw that coming 3-4 years ago?

Some questions remain. While I have no doubt WoW Tokens are included in revenue stream, whether they count as subscriptions in of themselves is a question mark. Sure, a redeemed one should count as a one-month subscription just like a game card. But what about my eight Tokens sitting on an inactive account? Am I “subscribed?” This remains to be seen.

In any case, if this upcoming expansion announcement isn’t literally the best thing in the world, I think we can expect to see some more timely exits from Blizzard staff and players alike in the coming months.


Posted on August 5, 2015, in Commentary, WoW and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I would think the wow tokens must be counted in subscriber numbers. Those coffee shop, pay-as-you-play players in Asia are counted, right? With a subscriber drop that big, I can’t imagine Blizzard leaving the token numbers on the table if it could soften the blow. The big question is, what would those subscriber numbers look like if they didn’t introduce the token? 5 million? Less?


    • I think there is an argument to be made that the amount of people who even have 20,000g to spend on a Token is pretty low. On the other hand, even 5-10% of the population would be several hundred thousand players.

      As far as counting for subs though, things will get weird if I’m a sub when not playing, but not a sub when I eventually take a look at the next expansion.


  2. It took me one month to jump off that ship again. It would’ve occurred sooner if they hadn’t gotten the leveling part of WoD so right.


    • Ironically, I really enjoyed the “collect Followers & blueprints” leveling metagame on subsequent alts. Usually the strategy for leveling is simply “go where the best, easiest XP is located.” While it is clear that Garrisons took more away from the game than it added, I enjoyed the dynamic of going out and earning Garrison extras instead of just powerleveling through the zones ASAP.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rant inc.

        You know, I kinda felt the same way until I was looking at my 6th alt, one who I could have probably finally raided with as they were looking specifically for a lock, and I suddenly saw what it was going to take to get him leveled, followers, geared, followers geared, and caught up 4 months into the expansion. No valor, no real gear from dungeons, 3 crafted items off my first alt, LFR, and an apexis grind ahead of me, all followed by one more garrison to maintain. Said “No, I just can’t do this” and he’s stuck at 94 still. For me this has been the most alt-unfriendly expansion I have ever seen them put out with every catch-up mechanism (garrison+followers, apexis, crafting system) behind a grind, coupled with the grind to maintain them till Tanaan came out. Hell, they put a QoL feature, mass milling herbs, behind a grind.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I wish there was a bit more to it, or, god forbid, some class/race/faction specific stuff to do too.


      • @MattH

        That’s an extremely fair point. Towards the end, I skipped questing in Gorgrond entirely, and just made a quick hop over the south area to vacuum up the fantastic followers down there. I was so passively playing my alts by the end that at least two of them had all epic followers and were slowly gearing up, but if I had made one of my alts a main, it’d be a totally different story.

        Garrison should have been Account-wide, no question.


      • No question indeed, especially when you learn you have to have a level 3 garrison to even enter Tanaan. Tanaan itself is a fine little solo area, hope you don’t mind dropping 5k gold just to play in it. “what were they thinking” I keep asking myself.


  3. I think you do ignore the initial spike, unless you believe there are 10 million long term WoW players out there. The trend is odd though. The year of no content in Mists actually resulted in far less of a drop than the 3 months of WoD that included a major patch. And as a dirty casual purely solo player, I’d rank 6.2 better than 5.4 (aside from ridiculous garrison shenanigans that punish alts).


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