The Reports of the World of Warcraft's Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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The Reports of the World of Warcraft's Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Exciting news from Azeroth today, folks...apparently, the recent massive losses of subscribers were not in fact the beginning of the end for the venerable old MMORPG, but rather a temporary lull. Indeed, there have been a rise of subscribers in recent days, and the numbers are being pinned on an upcoming expansion.

The numbers tell the story rather conclusively; back at the end of June, World of Warcraft was down to around 6.8 million subscribers. Not bad, but definitely a ways off the historic highs. But at the end of September, that number had jumped to fully 7.4 million, picking up better than a half million subscribers. The upcoming expansion was, as previously noted, cited by Activision-Blizzard as a reason for the gains, but as it turns out, it wasn't the sole reason for the gains.

Activision-Blizzard also pointed out that a patch was released ahead of the next big expansion that provided some substantial updates to things like character models, but also to the user interface and to player classes, and this extra bit of brass tacks work may have had a hand in driving up the numbers.

While Warlords of Draenor is a big deal, it's also worth noting that Activision-Blizzard is also looking at making the overall experience better, and this might have had a particular hand in driving user value, thus bringing back more players into the overall fold. It was easy to think, previously, that World of Warcraft might have been starting to get a little stale, and that was starting to drive users out of the fold. But with these modifications and a new plotline approaching, that might have been all that was needed to bring many of those who departed back into the fold. That's a good sign for the players that Activision-Blizzard is prepared to do what's necessary to keep the game running sharp and vital on into the future. But then, it's also entirely possible that we're looking at an era of diminishing returns. Yes, the numbers are back up, and that's great. But is this simply a band-aid solution? Will it take more and bigger expansions to keep fewer and fewer gamers from fleeing the fold? At what point will the effort required no longer provide the kind of return that will be necessary to keep the operation afloat?

Will it be enough to fend off the losses? Only time will tell if that much can get accomplished. But it's a reasonable bet that, given the gains already seen, we'll likely see at least a stabilization at this level, and potentially some more gains to follow.

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