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Blizzard Just Gave Us A Hint Of How Many World Of Warcraft Subscribers Remain (Millions!)

Accepted submission by Arthur T Knackerbracket at 2024-03-26 15:22:31
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Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story [techspot.com]:

According to YouTube channel Bellular Warcraft, World of Warcraft currently has around 7.25 million subscribers. While the game appears to have recovered from the disaster following the Warlords of Draenor [techspot.com] expansion almost 10 years ago, it remains far from its peak of 12 million in 2010 during Wrath of the Lich King [techspot.com].

Subscriptions had been declining steadily since Cataclysm in late 2010, when Draenor managed to boost them up to 10 million. Unfortunately, the spike was short-lived, and Blizzard soon confirmed that WoW had plummeted to 5.5 million subscribers – the last hard number the company ever released.

However, sources recently provided Bellular Warcraft with slides from the company's GDC 2024 postmortem, which included a graph showing WoW subscription growth since 2016. The only exact numbers on the chart are the years displayed on the X-axis, but comments from Blizzard over the years gave Bellular Warcraft just enough context to estimate the real figures.

An earnings report from the first quarter of 2017 mentioned that the 2016 expansion, Legion, slightly surpassed its immediate predecessor, Draenor. From there, Bellular Warcraft estimated that the game had around 5.8 million subscribers at that time. They arrived at the current number of 7.25 million by counting the chart's pixels upward from early 2017.

Furthermore, the company's Q4 2019 report noted [activision.com] that World of Warcraft Classic doubled subscriptions compared to Q2, which represented WoW's all-time low on the GDC graph following War for Azeroth. Combined with Bellular Warcraft's earlier numbers, the statement proves that the chart's Y-axis starts at zero, strengthening the channel's estimates.

After War for Azeroth sank subscriptions to approximately 4.07 million, Classic bounced them back to 8.27 million. Then, the ensuing pandemic likely helped sustain subscriber counts at a higher average compared to the earlier trend of peaks and troughs. However, the critically panned Shadowlands, which Blizzard's panel admitted was badly executed, led to a collapse to 4.5 million in 2022. Subscriptions then recovered somewhat leading to Dragonflight later that year, which missed Blizzard's projections.

The GDC archives will likely release the full presentation soon, illuminating WoW's progress [techspot.com] over the last eight years. Blizzard plans to launch the 10th expansion, The War Within, sometime this year. It will be followed by Midnight and The Last Titan.


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