There was a time when World of Warcraft had an unbelievable amount of paying subscribers, reaching up into the 12 million range. Since that time in 2010 however, many players have stepped away from Blizzard's long-running MMO. The community continues to rise and fall in numbers, but WoW is still one of the biggest, if not the biggest MMO around. And certainly one of the most profitable.
Today, Blizzard announced a new subscriber count ahead of the release of World of Warcraft's newest expansion, Warlords of Draenor, revealing that the game now has about 7.4 million players as of September 30, 2014. For some perspective, WoW had 6.8 million recorded subscribers by the end of June 2014, meaning over 600,000 people decided to join (or return) to the world of Azeroth. While it's not close to the game's peak, 7.4 million is still an amazingly impressive number for a game that's been around since 2004. And since Blizzard wasn't expecting the number to rise again, this may be a pleasant surprise for the studio.
Alongside the reveal of the newly increased subscriber count, Blizzard detailed the new Iron Tide content that launches as part of World of Warcraft Patch 6.0.2. Players can download and apply the patch ahead of the release of the new expansion, to which they'll be met with several new features, including:
- “Iron Horde Incursion” World Event: players looking to upset the Iron Horde invasion can journey to the Blasted Lands to face down the onslaught and venture into the revamped five-player version of the Upper Blackrock Spire dungeon
- New Character Models: several of the game’s original races are new and improved, with increased resolution as well as updated animations and facial expressions
- Interface Improvements: questing is now easier than ever with an updated quest log and inventory changes, including a Toy Box for the fun items players acquire through their adventures
- Character and Class Changes: myriad character- and class-specific updates are now live, making this a great time for players to refamiliarize themselves with their characters ahead of the expansion’s November 13 launch
Blizzard has also provided the full patch notes for those that want learn more about the content they're getting into.
Additionally, Blizzard has made a rather interesting move that may attract more players to Warlords of Draenor: all previous expansions (The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, and Mists of Pandaria) have been added to all existing WoW accounts. This means that new and old players will have access to all of the content released so far, not including Draenor of course. Blizzard claims this was done to make the "transition to Warlords of Draenor as seamless as possible" and it's a great way to lure in players who left the game long ago.
World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor releases on November 13, 2014. You can pre-purchase the standard edition or the digital deluxe edition now.