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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: WoW's Subscribers Are Up... Maybe?

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33 posts found

Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 15430

OP  2/10/14 6:58:28 PM#1

'Tis the season for 2013 fourth quarter and full year financial reporting, which means we can update ourselves as to how various publishers and their key titles fared during these periods. It's an unfortunate fact of life that game companies dislike making their numbers more transparent than necessary. That said, a little data mining can often be edifying and interesting. Last week learned about World of Warcraft, and from elsewhere, about the Russian market. 

Read more of Richard Aihoshi's The Free Zone: WoW's Subscribers Are Up... Maybe?.

Associate Editor:
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom


Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/25/04
Posts: 104

2/11/14 10:22:29 AM#2
Mature market vs  a growing new market. Whats new with that?

Elite Member

Joined: 5/12/10
Posts: 2511

2/11/14 10:36:38 AM#3

Nice summary, Richard, much more objective and in-place than Neilie's was :)

It's just a 0.2mill increase, with Draenor and the insta lvl90 option, a MoP sale, and by using a unique-ly unusual term of "subscriber"... so I pretty much agree with your title, it's up...maybe?

On the other hand Neilie wrote right away about the f2p fatigue and the diminishing of microtransactions :D


Defender of Worlds

Joined: 5/20/04
Posts: 3442

I actually still like MMORPGs

2/11/14 11:00:24 AM#4
Free 90s aren't out yet though...


Elite Member

Joined: 5/12/10
Posts: 2511

2/11/14 11:07:38 AM#5
Originally posted by Fendel84M
Free 90s aren't out yet though...

Nor Draenor ;)

As I wrote under Neilie's editorial too, I don't wow, just have a few buddies who do (unfortunately :) instead of LotRO or TSW, the noobs), and when asked, they've tried to somewhat justify their resub with that. More precisely, "to make some preparations for Draenor, arranging things, etc.".

I have no idea what does that mean, since I don't play... usually preparations for a new expansion to me (for example in LotRO) only means to manage some free time for that week. Or maybe cleaning up the inventory a bit. But that's just me.


Elite Member

Joined: 10/06/09
Posts: 2097

2/11/14 11:12:00 AM#6

I think that, historically, subscriptions have gone up following an expansion announcement. I usually play through the content of a new expansion, leave for a bit to play something else, resub and come back for an expansion, leave again. I'm pretty hardcore /end sarcasm



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Spotlight Poster

Joined: 7/09/11
Posts: 2146

May the game be ever in your favor.

2/11/14 11:14:06 AM#7

I think this is because a lot of people are honestly just getting sick of cash shops in F2P MMOs at this point. Even games with a great F2P set-up like Rift, use things like lock-boxes in their cash shops to make a quick buck.


And look at the options for subscription games... WoW and FFXIV are the only ones right now (well there are other smaller ones, like Dark Ages and Istaria, but those don't have as large of player-bases due to their small popularity and inability to advertise as much).


The choices for subscription games are small so they will most likely do well with the crowd of people that want nothing to do with F2P (and that crowd is most likely growing).



Elite Member

Joined: 6/10/09
Posts: 6665

2/11/14 11:21:50 AM#8

Great article. I appreciate you breaking down the numbers juggle ActiBlizz put out.

I think the reason why they don't break down sales can easily be explained by marketing. I think being able to market the game as the clear king of subscriptions by such a wide margin gives affords them a "king of the hill" win that no one else can touch. It sounds impressive, as I said no one can touch it, and it puts them in a unique position with their game. How much less impressive would it sound to say, "Globally we have 3M subscribers, .75M time card users, and another 4M cafe users". Suddenly they would be within the realm of reach from other game companies. Dev studios and publishers might know this already, but the "average gamer" doesn't seem to have the ability to reason through what "F2P" actually means, let alone something like this. It would be a horrendous blow to their perception and popular inertia.

Do Russia and the rest of the EU have a similar demographic cross section to their gaming? If so then your comparison and conclusion seem acceptable, but if not then I think that's too much of a stretch to assume and then draw a conclusion.

I do agree that the NA market is waning in influence. This is something some people here would probably laud as a boon, but I think it is bad for us. On one hand, maybe this will promote more niche titles and smaller more dedicated focused communities. That's the potential positive. On the other hand, it could mean that triple A development and larger titles are made for other demographics, leaving us out. It could also mean that more interesting foreign titles won't even make it here. We're already seeing Russia and the EU get localization first. ArcheAge launced in Russia first and Tera has had a new patch over a month before NA. I really feel we'll be left with whatever is left over.

No one has as many friends as a man with many cheeses!


Staff Writer

Joined: 3/07/12
Posts: 466

2/11/14 11:29:19 AM#9
Blame GAAP for the fuzzy numbers.

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/06
Posts: 319

2/11/14 11:50:04 AM#10
zzZZzz Blizzard claim that they had more people now then before and people go all nuts and have to break down all the numbers so it fit them.


Joined: 3/10/10
Posts: 2202

2/11/14 1:52:52 PM#11
At least blizzard give us numbers and a clear definition.....  damned if you do damned if don't.

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/07/04
Posts: 2593

2/11/14 4:01:20 PM#12

Originally posted by SwampDragons
zzZZzz Blizzard claim that they had more people now then before and people go all nuts and have to break down all the numbers so it fit them.

If WoW numbers are down then its "WoW IS DYING!!!"

If WoW numbers are up then its "they are lying." even has editorials about how Blizzard is lying about the subscription numbers.

Why is it that none of these people ever question Blizzard as to the accuracy of their subscription accounting when the numbers are down?


Advanced Member

Joined: 9/11/11
Posts: 134

2/11/14 4:36:12 PM#13
Seems like Blizz is saying, "See! We're still relevant!" in a game that is clearly on the decline...the truth is, there are several MMOs out now that are better than WoW. 


Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/10/07
Posts: 905

2/11/14 6:18:16 PM#14

This is not an unusual way to describe subscribers.  It is difficult for you to comprehend, but I assume so are all instruction manuals, drivers handbooks, contracts, and warning labels (ie. don’t drink out of toilet)  

  1. Credit card subscriber
  2. Cash prepaid card subscriber
  3. Buy to play first month free subscriber

Here is where you get confused, the Internet Game Room must install a bought and paid for and monthly subscribed to copy on each and every computer it makes available to the public.  The Internet Game Room is the subscriber, not you playing your good for nothing free game and not spending a cent in the cash shop.  

The you in this post does not refer to the OP of the referenced article, it refers to the general free gamer who doesn’t pay for their game play in the cash shops.  I’m sure Mr. Aihoshi does pay for his gaming and does indorse Free To Play as a Theft of Service, by encouraging players to play without paying a dime.

Pardon any spelling errors
Konfess your cyns and some maybe forgiven
Boy: Why can't I talk to Him?
Mom: We don't talk to Priests.
As if it could exist, without being payed for.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/24/13
Posts: 1014

2/11/14 9:47:34 PM#15

This article is embarrassing to  WoW has been consistent for years with how it reports subs and the definition of a sub.  they have always done quartly reports and are never shy to report losses.  The "?" in the title is a joke, the subs are definitely up since last quarter.

They aren't up by a significant amount % wise, but Blizzard never claimed to be.  Of course on the flip side, no one mentions how being down 33% over the last 3.5 years is still better than 95% of the other games out there.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/27/08
Posts: 124

2/12/14 2:32:25 AM#16
Originally posted by syriinx

This article is embarrassing to  WoW has been consistent for years with how it reports subs and the definition of a sub.  they have always done quartly reports and are never shy to report losses.  The "?" in the title is a joke, the subs are definitely up since last quarter.

They aren't up by a significant amount % wise, but Blizzard never claimed to be.  Of course on the flip side, no one mentions how being down 33% over the last 3.5 years is still better than 95% of the other games out there.

^^This, wel said. 


Hard Core Member

Joined: 4/19/08
Posts: 2056

2/12/14 4:23:24 AM#17

I'm for sure one of re-subbed players. And for sure will play wow as long as there will be at least one working server. But it is IMPOSSIBLE to expect any1 will be subbed 365 days per year and for years. We all need breaks. In media I guess I play wow and swtor when i have leveled my main alts to max about 4/5 months per year and 6/7 months when new expansion is out. For me is ok if they include me in their stats for entire year. Because I'm playing wow and will continue as it looks for now as long as there will be wow.



Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/24/09
Posts: 37

2/12/14 5:49:37 AM#18
I hope the sub model dies out...LONG LIVE GW2

Elite Member

Joined: 8/27/04
Posts: 7790

Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

2/12/14 7:26:50 AM#19

I don't want to write a huge essay on the Russian market but the author obviously is NEW to the scope of the whole ordeal and RMT use.

Basically numbers can lie unless you fully understand HOW and why.

First of all WHY post numbers,unless your saying that numbers intrigues others to the point they will play that game based on numbers an noting of common sense?Well Blizzard has been using the tactic of posting numbers ALL the time,actually EVERY time,they never use anything of common sense to drive their marketing ONLY posting of numbers.

As to the Russian market,well there was a Russian game back just before Wow was released and was putting up bigger numbers than Wow in the same time period.This game was a total joke ,it was based on spending real money and LOTS of it to be able to fight other leaders or i think were called KIngs.The problem was you had to BID to get the right to fight,so  there would be a bidding war.Well so happens the CEO's wife played and she was driving those numbers up into ridiculous heights,multi thousands and the only way to advance would be to TRY and out bid her.

That kind of nonsense drives numbers way out of proportion,hence why numbers can lie.Then someone comes along and starts posting numbers about how great the Russia market is for rmt use,when it is the few VERY rich driving those numbers up.Point is that to the AVERAGE gamer,they have no interest in that kind of stupid spending in a game.So again you get someone posting how great the F2P market  when in fact it is the MINORITY of foolish spenders driving those numbers way up.
Samoan Diamond


Novice Member

Joined: 5/05/06
Posts: 1

2/12/14 7:55:56 AM#20

I played wow 5 years from vanilla until WoTLK, after that I've just done Loremaster at every expansion (that means 1month subscription).

 I hated WoW, and tought it was dying, It is easy NOW, it is not what it used to be. I felt like that for like 3 years, untill i've started doing LOREMASTER FROM SCRATCH and I must admit the game seems more complete now then it ever was. And about being easy, try thinking that a new expansion is almost out and the majority of guilds havent FULL CLeared SoO.

And with WoD expansion coming out, it will explain how was the horde made, how was the earth build whos and whats. Now I've started to play reguraly and I really enjoy it.

Geting to the point:

1. lets start discussion about the numbers of subscribers when we will have at least another game with the same ammount of players.

2. lets just admit that WoW its still owning the mmorpg market, and just consider it is 10 YEARS OLD!

3. SWTOR has 1mil subs, and GW2 active players ~400k, lets say 1mil.

4. ESO beta was a complete failure and the gameplay and the way the char moves doesnt feel like you could do ARENA like pvp or quality pvp in that game.

5. You get what you pay for. F2P will never have not even half the quality and quantity of content that a good SUB game has.

The fact that alot of games tried to compete with WoW  (Aion, SWTOR, AoC, Rift, etc) and switched from sub based to F2P is reflected by the fact that all those games together dont equal WoW's player base. And yeah, I bought AoC on day one, I've played SWTOR and Rift on betas, a rl friend played Aion 1 month and left it to get back to WoW.


LATER EDIT: Think of it like this: if blizzard is lying about wow subscribers, then all the developers are lying. And if WoW has in fact 3,5milions of players, then SWTOR has 500k, GW2 500K and so on, you got the point ;)


Those are  my opinions and my arguments. Thanks for reading them.

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