Blizzard gave it’s investors some good news and some bad news today: the good news was that Diablo 3 is a bona-fide hit, having sold over 10 million copies since it’s release just a few short months ago. The bad news: World of Warcraft continues to experience a gradually decline in users, having lost over 1 million subscribers since last May.
The outlook isn’t completely grim for WoW though; the game still boasts over 9.1 million subscribers, which is sharp decline from the 12 million players it once had, but the game still has significantly higher subscription numbers that most over pay-to-play MMO’s. Blizzard says that most of the lapsed subscriptions come from players in Asian territories, with subscriber numbers in the US and Europe remaining mostly stable. The company is optimistic that WoW’s latest expansion, The Mists of Pandaria, will help the game regain a few of its former players. Despite Blizzard’s assertions that everything is fine with the World of Warcraft, a lot of analysts are predicting that the game may go free to play if subscriber numbers continue to dip. It wouldn’t be surprising; while WoW has so far managed to stay profitable in the face of fierce competition, most of the other major MMO’s released over the last few years have been forced to adopt the more consumer-attractive free-to-play model.
Still, despite WoW’s slow decline, Blizzard is in no danger of going anywhere. I wasn’t too happy with Diablo 3’s always-online DRM, but apparently that hasn’t stopped most people from playing Blizzard’s latest — Diablo 3 has sold a metric shit-ton of copies (and, if it’s anything like D2, it will probably continue to sell well for the next few years,) and Blizzard’s parent company Activision posted a billion dollar profit for the last fiscal year.