World of Warcraft is Gaining Subscribers Regardless of TESO, EQN, and WildStar Hype
Like some sort of terrifying horror film villain, World of Warcraft refuses to die.
According to a variety of sources, Blizzard's MMO has actually gained about 200,000 subscribers since the end of last year. Blizzard's 2013 Q3 earnings call reported 7.6 million subscribers and now the recent 2013 Q4 earnings call has reported a bump up to 7.8 million subscribers.
Yes, this is still much less than WoW's October 2010 peak subscriber number of 12 million subs. However, do remember that most MMORPGs struggle to even break 1 million subscribers. Neither the original Everquest, nor the recent Guild Wars 2, ever broke 1 million. Star Wars: The Old Republic peaked at 1.7 million and FFXIV is currently estimated to currently have 1.5 million subscribers. 7.8 is still an unfathomable dream for most developers.
What's the big deal?
Over the last few months we have been getting a ton of information from this year's world of upcoming MMORPG heavyweights. Between WildStar's huge streaming Class Drop hype train, tons of TESO beta keys going out for server stress tests, and hype from EverQuest Next and EQN Landmark alpha - it's hard to imagine WoW remaining relevant...
Or is it?
The exclusivity of beta and alpha access for these titles has only whet MMO gamers' appetites. Blizzard's strong showing in November at BlizzCon definitely pulled in plenty of attention and subscriber numbers. The steam train power of Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls, Hearthstone's open beta, juicy Heroes of the Storm information, and the Warlords of Draenor WoW expansion have only been building up Blizzard's everlasting flame. Oh, and let's not forget the highly anticipated WoW film adaptation now has a cast list and has begun filming.
Image from a February 2013 article.
WoW is dead? I've heard that before.
Most people love to brush aside WoW as old hat, but nothing is stopping this behemoth. Many journalists, even good friends and respected colleagues of mine, have been crying wolf over the death of WoW for years. The real question, the real test of WoW's staying power, will come over this next year.
World of Warcraft has been well populated for the past 10 years (launch was in November of 2004) and it has survived many so-called WoW-killers. Will any of the new 2014 MMOs finally usurp WoW's throne? Will it be WildStar? The Elder Scrolls Online? EverQuest Next or EQN Landmark? In this fickle, high-risk industry that kills off most MMOs in 2-3 years, WoW has become exceptionally good at not dying.