The most popular subscription-based MMORPG, World of Warcraft, seems to facing a steady decline. Publisher Activision Blizzard has announced in an earnings report that the game has lost 1.3 million subscribers over the last three months. Currently, the subscriber base still stands at roughly 8 million strong, which keeps World of Warcraft at the top in the running for most successful subscription-based MMORPG.
There are many possible explanations for the steep decline of players over three months. The most prevalent one is that this is part of the natural cycle for World of Warcraft. The game sees a big boost of subscriptions whenever a new expansion pack is launched, and many of those new subscriptions drop off after finishing the story quests and doing a couple of raids.
1.3 million is not a small number
Another possible explanation is that the game has failed to retain the players that had started playing World of Warcraft since its launch back in 2004. Saying that the game has changed since it launched would be an understatement. The game has generally become much more accessible, especially compared to the brutal days of vanilla World of Warcraft.
Whatever the reason may be, however, a 15 percent drop in the playerbase isn't good news for the game. According to Polygon, Activision Blizzard boss Robert Kotick expects it to get worse. Despite being the highest-grossing MMORPG out there, Kotick expects subscriptions to dip further before they go back up.
"And while we do believe further declines are likely, and we expect to have fewer subscribers a year than we do today, World of Warcraft remains one of the most successful franchises in the history of entertainment," said Kotick.
Kotick reiterates the plans that Blizzard had talked about before the launch of the current Mists of Pandaria expansion pack of releasing new content for the game more often to keep the players hooked on to the game. "We believe in the long-term value of this franchise and will continue to commit substantial resources to World of Warcraft," he added.