Wednesday, July 25, 2007

World of Warcraft Hits 9 Million

Have you ever heard the phrase; "television killed the radio star"? Or maybe this one; "The Burning Crusade killed World of Warcraft!". While television may have killed the radio star, The Burning Crusade has not killed World of Warcraft. In fact, World of Warcraft has grown: to nine million subscribers.

From all evidence, the growth is coming from the western market, contrary to what many MMO bloggers have been posting. The Burning Crusade has not launched in China yet, where WoW pulls in a few million of the current total user base! The ten million mark is not that far off, and TBC's launch in China may just be the spur to get it there. I firmly believe, and have for some time, that World of Warcraft will hit ten million by year's end.

This falls in line with what I've been reading and seeing lately. A lot of casual gamers are completely digging the extra ten levels of content, new zones, extended professions, and more accessible end-game content. Most raiders seem to have fallen off the horse as their "perfect" 40-man guilds disintegrated upon TBC's launch. It has been a hard road for them as they restructure, regroup, and realign for the 10 and 25 man content.

So, wouldn't raiders quitting in frustration decrease the numbers? No, because raiders make up a very tiny minority (just shy of 2%) of players. Casual and core gamers have and will continue to make up WoW's majority. Building the game around them has once again proven to be successful. It is a pleasure to read some of the reports from friends that have returned to WoW.

Actually, the more I read about The Burning Crusade, the more I want to play it. And I will play it. I have some time off coming up and I plan to give the TBC 10-day free trial a whirl.


  1. A lot of casual players held off getting the expansion right away and it looks like they are starting to now pick up the expansion since the number are starting to increase again. Since China has more then 2 million players from what I hear the expansion release might make it possible for the overall population mark to hit 11 million before the year's end.

    I just hope the two or three MMOs being released this year can still get enough subscribers with WoW still getting larger.

  2. 9 million subscribers is fine. I want the actual number of people playing right now.

  3. Well peak con-current users for North America/Europe was hovering around 800,000. So, approximately 1 in 4 NA/EU players are logged in every single evening.

    Subscribers are a better metric though. That is nine million people that are currently paying for an account.

  4. VIDEO killed teh radio star...

  5. Dick, I'll take that as you've never heard the phrase then.

  6. So the 9 million subscribers are all current paying accounts? Not ones that have paid that may not be paying right now?

  7. Bill, yes. WoW has sold something in the neighborhood of 20 million boxes last I heard.

  8. sHeartless, I agree with everything you've said but want to caution against the line of thinking in the last few comments...

    Not ever 'Subscriber' in WOW is a 'paying customer' in the western sence of the word. The asian markets have an entirly differnt pay structure and are paying pennies what we pay.

    Still, the numbers are and have always been impressive, and a great boon for the MMO industry.

  9. Wow is an impressive accomplishment by any measure.
    I have to say that it amazes me that people keep talking as if the chinese market where anywhere near as important financially as EU and US. The9 made 35 million thier first quarter with 7 million Wow acounts. That also includes other games they sell such as guild wars.
    Blizzard made well over 100 million that quarter with 2.5 million subscribers and far less infrastructure. I'd really like to see the actual subscriber numbers by region as they used to release them. I suspect EU and US are stagnating or even slightly dropping.

  10. Cyndre: Don't fall into the trap of saying that a Chinese player is not a paying subscriber because they pay on a different scale. Just because they don't pay a monthly subscription, does not mean they are any less a subscriber. Every time they log in they are paying for their account. Plus, in a lot of cases, they are paying a fee to use an internet cafe.

    The9, WoW's Chinese publisher, priced the game to compete in the Chinese market. Just as Blizzard did in the NA and EU market. Obviously, the amount they charge brings in a profit. Therefore they count just as much as a subscriber as a US/EU player.

    On top of this, China is not the US or EU. The Chinese economy is drastically different. What costs $1 in China may cost $3 in the US and $4 in EU. That most definitely has to be taken into consideration.

    Sam: As mentioned above, the Chinese economy is different, so a strict apples to apples comparison will not work.

    Also, if you did actually read my original post, you would realize that the NA/EU market are GROWING. Player activity is up in NA/EU since TBC's launch.

    And the game has grown to 9 million subscribers. China HAS NOT received The Burning Crusade yet. So, it is fairly safe to put the growth squarely on the part of the world that has TBC and that is NA and EU.

  11. well until we see specific numbers from blizzard that confirm that neither you or me can say for certain where the growth is. I've worked at many large companies and you can usually be certain if they aren't giving out lots of details in thier press releases they are hiding something. And the press releases about earnings have had a lot less information on box sales and details of subscriber growth.

    Not saying wow is dieing. But I'm not convinced they are growing the US and EU markets.


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