‘World of Warcraft’ Subscriber Count Increases Over Holiday

Published 1 year ago by

World of Warcraft Microtransactions Blizzard Activision PC

Nearly four years have passed since World of Warcraft was at its peak and boasting more than 12 million subscribers , but the aging MMO isn’t ready to roll over and die just yet. With big-budget next-gen games like The Elder Scrolls Online on the way, the genre aims to remain relevant on both consoles and PCs.

Although TESO is attempting to launch with a traditional subscription model, the general consensus is that free-to-play models are the future for the massively multiplayer genre. Many current MMOs (like Star Wars: The Old Republic) have been forced to abandon their subscription models to stay in the game, but Blizzard’s decade-old RPG continues to be one of the very few exceptions.

The latest figures reported by Activision reveal that despite WoW’s recent downward trend in subscriptions, Azeroth actually welcomed approximately 200,000 new (or returning) paying citizens between to the World of Warcraft between November of 2013 and December of 2013. That brings the current tally up to 7.8 million WoW subscribers by the end of last year.

WoW Warlords of Draenor

Thanks to Blizzard’s announcement of the next expansion pack, Warlords of Draenor, and the proposed expansion pack per year strategy, it seems like the aging MMO may be experiencing a bit of resurgence in popularity. Although there is definitely no shortage of newer, less expensive, and subscriptionless competition on the market, the loyal Blizzard fan base doesn’t seem to be ready to leave Azeroth quite yet.

The numbers have proven time and time again that Blizzard is still retaining more than enough players to justify the $15 per month subscription model. The game would need to see a serious drop off in players before the switch to a primarily micro-transaction-based model looked profitable.

Even with the planned decrease in gaps between expansion releases, it is unlikely that we will see the MMO titan rise back up over 10 million subscriptions, where it stood for a handful of years in its prime. Despite the amount of content available and the dedicated fanbase, the aging client and outdated graphics will have a hard time pulling in the next generation of gamers. The Warlords of Draenor expansion plans to update some of the race aesthetics, rather than adding a brand new race, but the presentation still isn’t quite as shiny and fresh as the next-gen competition.

There’s no doubt that subscriptions will spike again when Warlords is released, but we are interested to see if the next quarter or two will show another increase in players before there is any new content unleashed.

Are you still willing to pay a subscription fee for MMOs or do you prefer free-to-play games with microtransactions? Sound off in the comments.


World of Warcraft is currently available for Mac and PC.

Follow Denny on twitter @The_DFC.

TAGS: Activision, Blizzard, PC, World of Warcraft

  • dethfuse

    I’ll be honest. One of those subs was me.

  • darkmage1000

    nope played for less than one month never again too boring. got to have friends on it. play guild wars 2 or something like that where the business model is for the people more than the devs. that way the grinding experience doesn’t cost you more than one payment.

    • Scarthor

      Too bad GW2’s gameplay isn’t for the players, too.. Maybe then I’d agree. Besides that, I found WoW’s subscriptions for years worth more than GW2’s one time payment. Though I suppose I’m biased, so feel free to ignore my comment. xD

  • binkx

    i might be one casue EA ruined SWToR

  • Vampet

    They keep bringing me back in.

  • Iced

    Without a doubt the game is aging and as a whole I think you will find that most people agree with this sentiment or at least partially agree; As a company over the last couple of years the focus is on bringing in new players and not player retention. I am not sure if that works well with an aging game.

    If they were to focus on increased content delivery like they keep promising, vs. working on better tactics to slow progression of content they would likely be leaps ahead of where they are clearly headed.

    I am willing to pay a sub, if and when it proves to be worth it.

  • Nirotix

    7 year vet from when it was first released, quit near end of Cata after they completely dumbed down the game.

    The downward spiral started with FT and than they finished off the game with Cata. Once they had ‘noobed’ the game down to 5 year old status already they stuck a stake in it just before Panda by stripping away the talent system.

    Done… Never going back and Blizzard also lost me as a customer for ever after they released Dis-Blows III or better known as Auction Tycoon III. Haven’t seen a penny from me since.

  • Trey

    I believe with movies like the hobbit and among others pushes many of us to want to be apart of the dark ages. Warlords is promising plus there’s a new game coming out that may pull a lot of younger guys and gals who may not have played wow and push them into checking out the background and story of the newer game. ESO sounds nice and looks nice and a lot of its players will come from wow but I guarantee you each and every one will find their way back. There are families that play wow memories that have been made with enough time and preparation and dedication to a story that’s to die for to be apart of, wow will reach 10 mil again. And with each patch should one be running the required tech things are getting better. Graphics aren’t enough to create a gaming Titan and nor is an over embalished rip off of an idea gonna shut wow down. I doubt wow will go free to play atleast not in the coming years. And if it does it’d be joining ESO should scrolls even exist when that time comes. If it comes.

  • achillex

    well I don’t know about anyone else but WOD completely won me back, despite many setbacks, I feel like the game has also made great improvements, and as long as they keep up in the direction they’re going now, they’ll easily make it many more years without having to go freeium.

    • Riza91