The world of massively-multiplayer online (MMO) gaming still feels like it’s in its infancy even while Activision-Blizzard’s most popular MMO World of Warcraft has reached the milestone of seven years running. A significant portion of the gaming population spend hours in games such as this, becoming part of communities and building online reputations. Blizzard has chosen to recognize that by gifting their users with in-game goodies for sticking with them this year,
World of Warcraft turns seven on November 23, 2011! It’s been a truly incredible seven years, and we’d like to thank you all for joining us for yet another fantastic year. To celebrate, players who log into the game between November 20 and December 3 will earn a feat of strength added to their Achievements and a “Celebration Package” item. Using your item will get the celebrations rolling by shooting off fireworks*, applying a (visual only) tabard to your character, and granting a 7% bonus to experience and reputation gains while active.
We look forward to another year of adventures ahead and many more to come!
*Please observe all goblin and gnome fire hazard warnings and celebrate responsibly.
While the game has seen some ups and downs, Blizzard has managed to maintain over 10 million active subscribers for the past year—although their numbers have dropped somewhat from 11.4 million subscriptions to 10.3 million in the past few months. In spite of this, we’ve seen Activision’s profits triple over the same period last year.
World of Warcraft has touched so many lives across the gaming community that their yearly BlizzCon convention that the ticket sales have swollen from 8,000 in 2005 more than tripling to 26,000 sold this for 2011. This year, BlizzCon also sold virtual tickets for users who couldn’t visit in person to access live streaming video of the event for $40.
So popular is World of Warcraft that people in the game see their own characters and aesthetics as a status symbol. Every year, millions of people buy into fashion and brands for the social status and recognition; Blizzard managed to take this with virtual items and almost over $2 million in four hours by selling virtual mounts—transparent winged horses made up of star constellations. Banking off this popularity and interest from their population, the MMO giant has also introduced a tradable in-game pet that can be bought for real world money and sold for in-game virtual money.
As a result, the World of Warcraft virtual space has become the subject of studies in anthropology and sociology, including collisions between real-world economies and politics and online communities. One such is a survey done about the distribution of wealth in WoW by The Golden Crusade lead to an interesting slice-of-life from in the game revealing how wealth is hoarded and used by players–including the revelation that “24.25% of the wealth is held by 1% of the population.”
Seven years under it’s belt, World of Warcraft might be facing tough competition from the rise of free-to-play MMOs that succeed with similarly well honed graphics and gameplay; but Blizzard may continue to stand tall with the best, and most popular MMO in existence, and they’ve gotten there by being the most innovative and best-in-quality user interface. 2012 will see how these new business models affect subscription services such as WoW and Rift as other subscription MMOs switch to free-to-play left and right.
More than likely we’ll see World of Warcraft 8th anniversary next year and SiliconANGLE will be here to bring you the news.