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But after dominating the gaming world in the past couple of years, the game could be facing a major challenge after the game saw the number of subscribers to the game drop considerably during the first few months of 2013.
In the first 3 months of 2013, the number of users dropped by 14% – equivalent to 1.3 million players – which is the biggest drop in the game’s history.
Blizzard has blamed the rise in popularity of free online games for the substantial loss in users since the start of the year.
Struggling to break into Asia
With Asia always being seen as one of the biggest regions for gaming, World of Warcraft’s developers have been keen to break through to the area in recent months.
Following the launch of the Asian-themed add-on Mists of Pandaria back in October, it seemed that Activision Blizzard were making all of the right moves with the game selling 2.8 million copies in the first week.
But the success has seemingly been short-lived with the popularity of the title and the entire game dropping significantly over the last few months.
So much so that the majority of the WoW subscriber drop has been attributed to the region where Western titles are often outmuscled by local games and content.
This was reflected on by industry analyst Steve Bailey who told the BBC that “China is a very advanced and fiercely competitive market for online gaming, that, as well as offering greater direct competition to World of Warcraft, is also experiencing its own shifts in terms of business models and devices.”
Case of damage limitation
With such a staggering drop in the number of subscribers, Activision Blizzard has warned that the year will be very much a case of damage limitation.
The gaming industry has struggled as a whole in 2013 and World of Warcraft doesn’t seem to be able to escape from the black hole sucking in the gaming industry.
Whilst the game is still proving to be financially viable, WoW is facing increasing competition from other titles that have taken a free-to-play model rather than the monthly subscription service that has been adopted by Activision Blizzard.
A whole host of titles have sprung up on both PC and mobile devices which has stolen the spotlight from World of Warcraft and show that users don’t have to pay to play MMORPG’s.
On top of that, companies such as Disney are looking to get into the market with many keen players anticipating the launch of Skylanders later on in the year.
The change in the game’s fortunes was underlined by Activision chief executive Bobby Kotick who stated to the press that “it’s important to note that the nature of online games has changed, and with the environment becoming far more competitive.”
With a tumultuous year already being predicted for World of Warcraft, it will be up to the game’s developers to keep releasing new content and features that will be able to entice players to keep interested and playing the MMORPG for years to come.