World of Warcraft, the insanely popular online roleplaying video game that’s lasted for over ten years by virtue of its insanely addictive gameplay and social elements, is suddenly losing its grip on its audience.
The game shed three million subscribers in the last three months — a record single-quarter loss.
The news came from publisher Activision Blizzard’s first-quarter earnings call yesterday. The company generated quarterly revenue of $US1.28 billion, beating Wall Street’s revenue target.
In January, World of Warcraft had 10 million subscribers. By the end of the first quarter of 2015, that had gone down to 7.1 million.
That’s a huge dip for any subscription service, especially one that’s supposed to be as sticky as World of Warcraft. At its peak, circa 2011, World of Warcraft had around 12.5 million paying subscribers, all paying around $US15 a month.
As gaming news site Kotaku says, it’s not because the quality of the game has gone down so much as it is because players ran out of things to do.
Developer Blizzard actually released a new expansion to the game, entitled Warlords of Draenor, during this same quarter. At first, everything looked good, and World of Warcraft’s subscriber base swelled as people came back to check it out. But once they saw what there was to see, they left.
It’s astonishing that a game like World of Warcraft has lasted so long as it has, given how much competition it’s had from all corners — even big-brand games in the same vein like Lord of the Rings Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic couldn’t grow big enough, fast enough to successfully compete with the juggernaut that is World of Warcraft.
While 7.1 million subscribers is nothing to scoff at, and it’s still the biggest subscription-based game of its kind in the world, it’s certainly a point of some concern for Activision Blizzard, which also publishes popular games like Destiny, Hearthstone, and Guitar Hero.
Investors don’t seem too worried, as Activision Blizzard stock is up 5.22% from yesterday to $US24.41 a share today.