World Of Warcraft Loses 600,000 Subscribers
July 29, 2013

World Of Warcraft Loses 600,000 Subscribers

Enid Burns for - Your Universe Online

The population of Azeroth has fallen and its leaders aren't sure if they will get people to come back to the lush world that promises adventure. Azeroth is the world created by Activision Blizzard for its World of Warcraft video game franchise. Recent reports put the subscriber base for the current World of Warcraft at 7.7 million.

The game had 12 million players in 2010, Maximum PC reported. The report, which puts the subscriber base at 7.7 million, said Activision Blizzard lost 600,000 subscribers.

Activision Blizzard is set to release its Q2 2013 earnings tomorrow, and has hinted in documents that it will report positive news for investors. When it reported its Q1 earnings the company remained positive about its 8 million-strong subscriber base, stating that as of March 31 World of Warcraft had 8.3 million subscribers.

"Our first-quarter performance was driven by continued consumer interest in all of our key franchises. Blizzard Entertainment's StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm was the #1 PC game for the quarter. Additionally, during the quarter, Blizzard's World of Warcraft remained the #1 subscription-based MMORPG in the world with more than eight million subscribers, although the game saw declines of approximately 1.3 million subscribers, mainly from the East, but in the West as well," said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, in a corporate statement about its Q1 earnings.

The subscriber numbers remain impressive by MMORPG standards. Yet they have continued to fall since the Q1 earnings report. While lower, the subscriber base is still strong by industry standards.

"Despite the steady decline, World of Warcraft is still easily the world's most popular MMOG (massively multiplayer online game). A new in-game store, announced earlier this month and allowing players to buy extra items, may also help shore up subscriber numbers," Fox News reported.

A waning population is not uncommon as games age. The key for Activision Blizzard is to release expansions to keep the game fresh, and develop new titles to transition users to new adventures. Activision Blizzard released an expansion pack, Mists of Pandria, in October 2010, which led the subscriber base to its peak 12 million registered users, Fox News reported.

Subscribers pay a monthly fee, which can be put on a pre-paid card, to gain access to the online world and compete in quests. The MMORPG, or massively multiplayer online role playing game, subscription model has given way to the free-to-play model where gamers can access the world for free, but make in-game purchases to build and equip their character and weapons, among other goodies in the store.

Some World of Warcraft fans may be planning to move to that free-to-play universe. Blizzard Entertainment is in development with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, a free-to-play game in the Warcraft universe for Windows, Macintosh and iPad. The game is currently in Beta.

The news of a declining subscriber base surfaces on the eve of Activision Blizzard's Q2 earnings call. It also comes to light at the same time Activision Blizzard is working to buyout its parent company Vivendi for a reported $8.2 billion. If successful, Activision Blizzard will reduce Vivendi's stake in the company to 12 percent of Activision Blizzard stock, or 83 million shares.