I've got to hand it to Blizzard: While most MMOs would be circling the drain if their bubble burst to the tune of 800,000 subscribers, World of Warcraft barely notices. Yeah, the steep drop to 10.3 million - down from last year's all-time high of 12 million - is by no means good news, but from where Blizzard's sitting, it's just a hint to try something new rather than a one-way trip to the MMO graveyard.
The downward trend comes in the wake of another reported subscriber loss three months ago, which saw the total subscribers dwindle to 11.1 million. 2011, then, has been a steady downhill slope. So, what's changed? For one thing, Blizzard cites troubles in "the East," but also notes that WoW's still "one of the most popular online games in China, and remains by far the most popular subscription-based MMO in the world."
Speaking during a conference call (via VG247 ), Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime also took aim at Cataclysm's lack of truly engaging casual content and noted that Pandaria's pet battle system looks to patch up that particular leak. However, for those less inclined to cuddly pandas or pocket-friendly monsters, Morhaime promised enough murderous Horde vs Alliance fun for the whole family. First, though, a certain dragon who's also the apocalypse needs slaying, and the beginning of the end's only a week away.
"It's really not intended to go out and drive new user acquisition, that's a whole other strategy," Morhaime said of the upcoming update. "But it does drive engagement with the game, and so that will impact churn if we do it successfully, and will eventually drive winback, as players tell each other about the content they're enjoying."
So, are you still pumping precious monetary lifeblood into Blizzard's MMO behemoth? Or has your extended stay in Azeroth finally come to a close?