Blizzard recently announced the departure of over 800,000 World of Warcraft accounts between the months of July and September of this year. The MMO’s total head count is now at around 10.3 million, down 1.7 million from the same time period last year. WoW‘s 12 million pinnacle first took a hit of 600,000 subscribers between its October 2010 highpoint and May 2011, followed by another loss of 300,000 subscribers between May and July.
The number of active WoW accounts tends to peak during expansion releases and gradually fall in the proceeding months. But Blizzard believes long-time players have become more and more adept at completing new content faster, leading to a shorter peak with each new batch of content. The trend was particularly apparent in Blizzard’s last WoW expansion, Cataclysm, which lead to approximately 1 million veteran players plowing through the content and quickly unsubscribing.
Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime divulged the most recent losses in a recent conference call, stating the loses are primarily coming from the East. Morhaime also stated the company has acknowledged that there are “…improvements that we can make to the content.” A content update pack is scheduled for release in the next few weeks, with the MMO’s fourth expansion, Mists of Pandaria, revealed but not dated.
“[This is] really not intended to go out and drive new user acquisition, that’s a whole other strategy,” Morhaime stated, commenting on the upcoming content pack, “But it does drive engagement with the game, and so that will impact churn if we do it successfully, and will eventually drive winback, as players tell each other about the content they’re enjoying.”