WoW Expansion and Retention

Our dear friend Tobold has an interesting post about WoW’s subscriber numbers surrounding the expansion. WoW repeats the same pattern of other games, just on a grander scale:

So the decline doesn’t matter? Far from that. We will never know the exact numbers, but the WarcraftRealms graph suggests a 10% decline from the peak in February. That still leaves more players than WoW had in December last year. But if you happen to work in a company, imagine you having to tell your bosses that you just lost 10% of your customers, starting the first decline after 27 months of growth. Big as WoW is, losing 10% means losing more people than Everquest ever had, and it also means losing over 100 million dollars.

: Zubon

5 thoughts on “WoW Expansion and Retention”

  1. Good stuff, I found a link I posted on my blog about falling subscriptions in WoW as well, it was posted here on WoW Insider

    All I know is that it is turning into one of those games where EQ1 sits now, and it is about who you know and not who you PUG with. The expansion really seemed to turn the game into a greedfest, and I still have not seen anything like it in any game I try. I dont know if I will ever go back due to a bitter tasted Kharazan left in my mouth

  2. I also wonder how these numbers would change if you could see the number of accounts that have gone effectively dormant—i.e., the person is keeping their account for now, but doesn’t really play much any more. I fall into this category, as does my husband—I think we play WoW maybe once a month or so. It’s only a matter of time before the dormant accounts start closing down, barring some big change.

  3. Companies and products on the scale that Blizzard and WoW are opperating, track revenue and client growth on a quarterly and annual scale.

    When they look at their graphs, they continue to see upward mobility and year over year revenue growth. Tobold is using smoke an mirrors to reach a conclusion, in my opinion.

    World of Warcraft has more subsciptions than it did at the same point last year, or even six months ago. The peaks and valleys between point A and point B are irrelevant metrics until they are tracked over a 1,1 1/2,2 year time grids.

  4. heh..

    Mommy: “No I’m not going to pay for that.”


    heh. yeah. a joke.

  5. @ Cyndre

    The graph is an indication of active users not subscribers.

    I think you are oversimplifying quite a bit in terms of what companies look at. In most cases the larger the company/product the more data and analysis is performed on it. This also typically means more eyes within the company that are on this key data.

    Blizzard has made it clear that they track nearly everything in the game from what mobs get killed the most to what items getting sold the most. To think they do not have mountains of data that is designed to help them track the health of the game on user activity such as average primetime users, the amount of time people play on average and so on is foolish.

    We can not even begin to guess what Blizzard’s own internal monitoring is showing them. For that matter we have no idea what their subscriber number trends are as we have not seen any new numbers in quite some time. We also have no idea what their revenue stream looks like or how it is fluctuating (as most of the accounts are in Asia and are not set up on a monthly fee so their revenue stream is directly tied to the amount of time people play).

    This is not a flame in any way I just feel you are oversimplifying how companies as large as Vivendi operate.

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