Blizzard’s MMO juggernaut, World of Warcraft, is experiencing a gradual decline in its player base. Quarterly reports from Blizzard are usually accompanied by a subscriber count, with the most recent report revealing a 5.5 million strong player base. While this is by all means still a strong foundation, it marks the lowest number of concurrent subscriptions in the nine years of World of Warcraft.
With the shift to free-to-play models sweeping the MMO industry, World of Warcraft has remained stalwart in its subscription model. As one of the few games to still utilize this model, it stands as a unique entity in the field. Perhaps it is this refusal to change that has seen the player base drop from a peak 12 million concurrent subscribers, or perhaps this steady decline could be seen as the mark of a shifting industry.
In related news, Blizzard has announced that, going forward, there will be no more public announcements of subscription numbers. Instead, the company will shift towards utilizing unspecified ‘engagement’ metrics to measure the health of the game.