For a very short period, it seemed like Blizzard Entertainment Inc’s World of Warcraft was on the rebound after its latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor, saw a huge spike in subscribers last November. Subscription numbers rose to over 10 million accounts after the release of Warlords, the highest the game had seen in more than two years, but now those number have dropped by nearly half to only 5.6 million, the lowest since 2005.
According to Blizzard head Mike Morhaime, the studio’s account management system Battle.net saw its highest ever active user base by the end of the quarter, and taken as a whole, Blizzard games saw an average 50 percent increase in monthly active users. In other words, while World of Warcraft is suffering its worst subscriber numbers in a decade, Blizzard’s other games are doing better than ever, especially more recent titles like the free-to-play games Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft and Heroes of the Storm.
During the Activision Blizzard Inc Q2 earnings call, Morhaime skirted the issue of World of Warcraft’s dwindling subscriber base.
“These important metrics reflect the strength of our portfolio, with many more people around the world playing more Blizzard games than ever before,” Morhaime said. “On the World of Warcraft front, in late June, we launched on of our biggest non-expansion content updates ever, Patch 6.2: Fury of Hellfire. It added a new zone for players to explore, a new raid, and much more. This helped stabilize the subscriber base in the last part of the quarter.”
While stabilizing the subscriber base at its lowest point in 10 years may not be something to celebrate, Morhaime is optimistic about the next expansion for World of Warcraft, which will be announced at Gamescom on August 6.
“We’re going to have exciting news at Gamescom this week,” Morhaime said. “We’ll be announcing the next expansion for World of Warcraft. We’ve been listening closely to our players about their experience with Warlords of Draenor, and we think they’ll be really excited when they hear our plans.”
Whether or not Blizzard can rescue World of Warcraft from its tailspin remains to be seen, but even with the massive drop in its player base, the game still remains one of the most popular MMOs on the market today, more than 10 years after its release. It will also likely see a bump in subscribers next summer when the Warcraft film releases in theaters.
You can catch a livestream of Blizzard’s World of Warcraft expansion announcement via its Battle.net launcher this Thursday, August 6, at 9am PDT.