Activision: World of Warcraft's declining subscriptions cause for concern
World of Warcraft remains the number one subscription-based MMORPG (isn't it the only one that's left at this point?), but despite its top-dog stature, Activision is worried about the future of its long-standing MMORPG. Latest results from Activision Q1 2013 earnings report indicate a 1.3 million drop in subscribers. The result is 8.3 million subscribers as of March 31, 2013. The loss in subscribers, according to Activision, was "mainly from the East, but in the West as well."
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick acknowledged the subscriber declines in World of Warcraft "raise concerns," as do the shift in release dates of competing products, the disappointing launch of the Wii U, and uncertainties regarding next-generation hardware. "For these reasons, we remain cautious," he said in reference to Activision's future projections of the back half of 2013.
8.3 million may seem like a pretty solid number, especially when taking into account that WoW is one of the few remaining subscription-based MMOs, but the overall picture sees nearly a four million drop since its 12 million subscriber peak in 2010. World of Warcraft saw a bit of a boost with the release of Mists of Pandaria, but it seems it was only temporarily.
Looking ahead, it'll be interesting to see how Activision Blizzard handles the future of World of Warcraft. Will the company stick with the subscription requirement or adopt a free-to-play model like many other MMOs have done in the past. It seems to have worked for TERA. Then again, I don't know if those ever saw 8.3 million subscribers to begin with.