The MMO market is changing, and not even Blizzard's powerhouse MMO is immune. At its height, World of Warcraft boasted over 10 million subscribers. The numbers began sinking in mid-to-late 2012, and Blizzard lost over 1 million subscriptions within a matter of months. When Mists of Pandaria released in October last year, the MMO quickly regained those lost subscriptions.
With players burning through the new expansion content and annual subscriptions from the free Diablo III deal ending, Blizzard's lost yet another 1.3 million subscriptions. Now, the total number of WoW subscriptions sits at 8.3 million as of March 31, 2013. That many subscribed players is still nothing to scoff at, but seeing the enormous declines that WoW's been experiencing (it's lost the player base equivalent of two popular MMOs, after all) it won't be long before Blizzard starts feeling the effects.
The good news is that Activision-Blizzard is well aware of the shaky footing that WoW stands on. "Though the majority of our subscriber decline occurred mainly in the East, where we have more subscribers and lower revenue per subscriber, we saw declines in the West as well," Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick stated. "While we do believe further declines are likely and we expect to have fewer subscribers at year-end than we do today, World of Warcraft remains one of the most successful franchises in the history of entertainment."
Of course, Blizzard's response to combat the declining numbers is to do the only thing it can do: release more content. "It's important to note that the nature of online games has changed, and with the environment becoming far more competitive, especially with free-to-play games," said Kotick. "To address this, we're working to release new content more frequently to keep our players engaged longer and make it easier for lapsed players to come back into the game. We believe in the long-term value of this franchise and will continue to commit substantial resources to World of Warcraft."