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After Blizzard Entertainment announced in their quarterly report released in August that the number of active subscribers to their World of Warcraft MMO had dipped to 5.6 million subscribers in the second quarter of this year, the game giant has now released a new quarterly report announcing yet another dip for their 11-year-old game. World of Warcraft only saw a small decrease in numbers over the past quarter, with the grand total hanging around 5.5 million subscribers. This is a decrease of 100.000 subscribers, making this the lowest point in the game’s lifespan in 9 years. Even though initial player response to the expansion pack was so overwhelming it made it nigh on impossible to play the game in the week the game launched, a lot of players have yet again decided to lay down their arms and move to greener pastures. 

In the quarterly report, Blizzard comments that this quarterly report will be the last one to contain specific information about the amount of people actively playing the game, citing that “There are other metrics that are better indicators of the overall Blizzard business performance.”

The game is still boasting subscriber numbers most other MMOs can only dream off and is set to release its 6th expansion pack Legion sometime next year. 


Quick Take

World of Warcraft has been slowly bleeding subscribers since the release of the Cataclysm expansion. It is to be expected that some long-time players decide to leave the game after playing it for 11 years. Blizzard is far from down and out, though. The company still has smash hit Hearthstone bringing in quite a bit of money, and Blizzard’s MOBA Heroes of the Storm is also doing quite well. The company is set to release their first person arena shooter Overwatch sometime in the not too distant future, as well as a brand new expansion to World of Warcraft that is sure to bring some veterans back into the fold in addition to drawing in some new blood, even if it’s temporary. Fans of the company’s IP and approach to gaming will have more than enough to play and to look forward to.

More About This Game

Chris Anderson

Assoc. News Editor

I've been playing games since I was just barely able to walk, and I never really stopped playing them. When I'm not fulfilling my duties as senior staff writer and tech reviewer, I'm either working on music, producing one of two podcasts or doing freelance work.



  • mbits

    God, I can’t wait until WoW dies. They’ve been sucking the air out of the MMO room for a decade. You have people who should know better and expect more who *still* just play WoW. After a decade. It’s like low expectations have kept people from wanting more out of an MMO and so all we’ve gotten is WoW and WoW clones for a decade, with great games that are a little more complex and “sandbox-ish” like EVE totally off to the side limping along.

    Maybe once WoW eats it, someone else will come along and claim the userbase with something fantastic.

  • Audie Bakerson

    Good, good.

  • Azure

    Well hopefully they can focus more energy on Hots and Overwatch and dominate in those areas now.

  • Iconoclast

    Well, Blizzard decided to cut every corner they could find in the current expansion, that this resulted in a large loss of subs is no surprise, but lets not forget that there are a lot of people who are using the new token system to keep playing, like myself who might count towards the subscriber base.

    I hope with Legion they will turn it around. WoW is still one of my favourite games and there is nothing like an evening relaxed raiding with my freinds.

    I have tried alternatives, like SWTOR, which I canceled my sub after the F2P cancer got to it, same with Wildstar which had some refreshing new mechanics but also succumbed to the allure of quick F2P bucks.

  • Fient

    Cataclysm revamped the world, lore, the talent system, classes and itemization in such a deep way.
    Judging from the results, most people did not like those changes.
    I’d actually give the game another shot if they rolled back most of the changes from Cataclysm, just pretend that never happened.

  • Fient

    Yeah.
    Wow kind of killed the MMO market.
    It’s impossible to make a good successful MMO while WOW is out there.
    But WOW fails to improve the genre in any way.
    So it’s like if the entire genre is dead and put on hold for so many years.

  • FirstLine

    World of Warcraft: Dailies of Draenor

  • Dr Dub

    I’m amazed they have that many! I’d love to know what those 5 million people are doing at this point.

    They really needed to hit that annual expansion target or released another content patch to keep people occupied.

  • JD Fox

    WoW was never about improvement. It was about refinement. WoW was essentially Blizzard’s EverQuest with their refinements made.

  • JD Fox

    The problems with WoW begin in Lich King with a reduction in game difficulty and a simple welfare gear catch up system. Blizzard sacrificed game difficulty and role playing at the altar of convenience.

    As a result, the game has become hollow. It’s basically 3rd person Diablo 3.

  • JD Fox

    I’ve played WoW from the beginning, and I still play it to this day. I blame Blizzard and the casuals for the state WoW is in. To “broaden WoW’s audiences” Blizzard dumbed down the game and designed it so anyone could play and experience the full array of content. Ideas like welfare gear, LFR, loss of attunements, killing the RPG elements, killing game difficulty, and over stream lining the content has made the game meaningless to all but the most gear thirsty of players.

    I still have reason to play, though. Part because I want to see where WoW goes. I have to see the history of it first hand, and second for the friends I’ve made in it. You don’t play a game for 11 years and not meet some interesting folks along the way.

  • ParasiteX

    Don’t get me started on much they’ve pissed over all the lore..

  • NorBdelta

    Come play a real MMO like Eve, a serious internet space ships and capitalism simulator!

  • AlienPickle

    5.5 million x $15 per month = 82 million a month. I think they’re doing FINE. I mean, what could their burn rate be? Let me put this in perspective… they make Star Citizen every month. Ponder this.

  • Chris Anderson

    I think the only prerequisite for being called an MMO is that the game should be capable of hosting a ton of players in a persistent, shared world.

    I’d love to get into EVE, but the learning curve is so damn steep. Feels more like a job than a game to me. Love reading the stories that come out of that game though.

  • Serathis

    The learning curve actually got better, there are easy to understand guides out there, some helpful players and if you stay in highsec space, you likely won’t be blown to bits by gank alts.

  • Serathis

    Other metrics? I guess people buy those stupid mounts and pets. And the game token.

  • Chris Anderson

    I don’t think items sold on their pet store can be a significant contributor to those metrics. The game token, however, can. Good observation.

  • Chris Anderson

    That may very well be, but I just don’t have the time to commit to something like EVE. Life’s too short, y’know?

  • NorBdelta

    I certainly admit that if you want a good experience outside of standard PvE then Eve is the type of game where you need to commit time, due to its people factor. That being said making some money, then going to null sec in a cheap fit looking for fights could be fun.

    The PvP and fleet engagements with 50+ other fellow alliance members are where the fun is at. The big disconnect with Eve vs other MMOs is that in Eve you usually have to make the fun for yourself outside of PVE quests that tend to make-up the majority of fun activities in other MMOs.

    If you are the type of person who finds mining minerals with a spaceship fun then it is perfect and alliances are always looking for miners and manufacturing dedicated individuals.

    Dont forget the space capitalism bit, if you are looking to purely play with markets I know of a few people who never even leave stations, they trade and conduct market speculation, a kind of wall street banker type thing. They find market manipulation to be a challenge in itself, black market drugs in Eve is lucrative as hell to manufacture and then sell, there are actually Drug Cartels in Eve that manipulate and manage the market availability and pay other players to hunt down the manufacturing site of rivial players, ruthless as hell. A corp mate of mine does the drugs and sometimes he just gives up becuase they drive the price down so low to force everyone out of the market with slim profit margins. Its crazy sometimes.

    Again Eve is definitely a game that needs a time allocation.

  • Chris Anderson

    I’ve heard this story from friends of mine who play that game. I don’t really feel the need to play PvP in that game and from what I’ve played the PvE couldn’t hold my attention for long. Market manipulation isn’t really something I can commit to on accounts of me having dyscalculia in addition to a pretty short attention span when it comes to that stuff.

    I’ll stick to reading the stories about political intrigue and misswarps that cost corps thousands of dollars.

  • Chris Anderson

    I still play every now and then, and the game is certainly still a lot of fun to me. I’d imagine that it would be even more fun if you cared about progression, which I really don’t.

  • Dr Dub

    I think the problem there is also that if you cared about progression you would already have “finished” the expansion months ago.

    I think most raiders have long since finished the hardest raid mode they personally are interested in completing.

  • Chris Anderson

    That’s a fair point. Gotta be fair about the sub numbers as well, the expansion is at the end of its cycle and the people who are playing it for the progression have finished all there is to finish.

    We will most likely see yet another rise when the next expansion gets released. I’m just surprised that a game as old as WoW is still as big as it is now.