Update: Blizzard has issued a statement denying that Tom Chilton provided the 10.1 million subscriber number to the magazine. "This was a misquote, or some kind of misunderstanding on the part of the journalist," a rep said. "Our policy for almost a year now is that we do not talk about subscriber numbers, and Tom did not do that with this publication."
Blizzard stopped reporting World of Warcraft subscriber numbers back in November 2015, saying that "there are other metrics that are better indicators of the overall Blizzard business performance." Fortunately for those of us who are interested in such things, it hasn't stopped giving interviews, such as the one that game director Tom Chilton recently had with Polish magazine Pixel, which quotes him as saying that the world's greatest MMO is back to over 10 million subscribers.
"As we speak, there is around 10.1M," Chilton said, translated from the magazine by Reddit (and confirmed by Google Translate). "You know, it's hard to tell what the future is going to bring. We have our inner rivalry with Overwatch, but it's still possible that we'll jump over 12M again. There are a lot of potential players and there are over 100M World of Warcraft accounts created."
If the figure is accurate, it represents a remarkable turnaround for WoW. When Blizzard stopped releasing quarterly reports in late 2015, it had sunk to 5.5 million subscribers, a huge number by any measure but also a far cry from the glory days of 2010, when it could boast of having more than double that amount. It obviously represents the expected bounce from the release of Legion last month, which sold more than 3.3 million copies in its first day of availability, and the Warcraft movie may have helped, too. And as those effects fade, the number of subscribers will subside as well. But if one good expansion can nearly double the game's subscriber count, even temporarily, then there may be a lot more life left in World of Warcraft than any of us thought.
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Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.