World of Warcraft: Is Healthy Subscriber Decline Possible In A Microtransaction Market?

Despite the latest release of World of Warcraft subscription numbers, many players still feel the game is alive and kicking. While it has been the biggest game of the past decade and has been awarded tons of titles and achievements, the number of players actively described to the game has been dropping consistently throughout expansions.  Currently the game has around 5.5 million subscribers as opposed to the 10 million promotional campaigns that were being ran a few years back.  So, is this a good or bad thing?

Many believe that it is a little difficult to get proper numbers regarding World of Warcraft’s monetary popularity but luckily for us we can simply just evaluate the stance of the shareholders and of course the community. Every quarter Activision-Blizzard releases their financial summary with respects to subscriber count, earnings, losses, etc.  However, it was announced late last year that they will no longer be reporting such information any longer due to the focus of the game’s success not being solely dependent on active subscription.  This idea leads us to the next question: then what does?

In an open statement to their shareholders, Activation Blizzard explained that “Subscriptions of this title are stable right now and currently remain at 5.5 million subscribers”. In an attempt to off-set the obvious panic and curiosity regarding the massive drop in subscribers, they firmly believe that their players are excited about the upcoming Legion expansion which features tons of new content such as a new class, customizable weapons, enhanced textures, and much more. Despite the chronic decline in subscribers since MoP’s inception — it is clear that Blizzard has other “cash cows” in play — most obviously seen through the increasing development into their in-game cash shop.

Although the general attitude of the player-base seems to be somewhat positive of the new direction WoW is heading, it’s not uncommon to see a lot of confusion and uncertainty regarding the current healthy and longevity of the game’s future.  Subscriber count used to be a direct correlation into the game’s success, however we now have in-game time tokens, mounts, pets, cash-shops, etc. that are able to off-set the overall shortcomings of a declining subscriber count.

Though, many players are excited (and all of us here at TGS) are very excited for the new Legion expansion as they are doing some awesome overhauls to the core features we loved so dearly about TBC.  Additionally, this expansion showcases an improved transmogrification system which will allow you to collect items and save your favorite outfits without sacrificing a stupid amount of bag space. On top of that, a brand-new PvP System  planned with revamped rewards, progression, as well as improved support for communities within the PvP-sphere.

While it is evident that the decline in active subscribers causes some serious concern on behalf of the players worldwide who have thoroughly enjoyed playing this title for many years; the sole concern primarily stems not from the financial health of the corporation — but rather the direct influence that has over active players seen throughout the world.  Sure, the company may be able to off-set financial losses with other micro transactions throughout he game which still allows for further game development, but at what point does the diminishing returns of no new players cause the game to lose it’s appeal?  Hopefully Legion helps put the spark back into the game we’ve all grown to love.  Let’s get ’em, Blizzard!

One thought on “World of Warcraft: Is Healthy Subscriber Decline Possible In A Microtransaction Market?

  1. DKPminus says:

    Great article, as far as I know however Blizzard is not longer going to be announcing subscription numbers so it’ll be anyone’s guess going forward.

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