NOV. 20, 2014 • After a week in release the World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor expansion has sold 3.3 million units worldwide. Blizzard Ent. Inc. reports sales of the new content has pushed the subscriber base for the MMO past 10 million. Warlords of Draenor was initially released in Australia, Europe, Latin America, New Zealand, North America and Southeast Asia. Markets added this week include China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan. The last expansion of the game was 2012’s Mists of Pandaria. Warlords of Draenor was released in $49.99 and $69.99 SKUs for retail and digital, as well as an $89.99 retail-only collector’s edition at retail.
Impact: The ebb and flow of subscriber numbers is a natural phenomenon for MMOs in general and World of Warcraft in particular. Some players get tired of playing, move onto different games or get out of gaming completely. Typical players race through content so quickly that it is difficult to hold many of them during the time it takes to create new expansions. World of Warcraft reached its peak subscriber base of 12 million in 2010, but by August of this year the number of subs had decreased to 6.8 million. But the arrival of a new expansion tends to bring players back. People want to clear out the rust in their skills in anticipation of the new content. So by mid-October the number of subscribers had risen to 7.4 million. Passing 10 million subscribers again is definitely healthy for the brand, yet it is expected. No other MMO has attained the worldwide popularity and longevity of World of Warcraft. The new expansion bucks the freemium trend by charging a premium price plus a monthly subscription. Of course, World of Warcraft has arguably been the only title to do this to such a scale. Rather than working on a replacement, Blizzard has smartly been updating the decade old title in tangible ways such as reworking the character models to better match the higher visual quality exhibited by games made more recently. This all gives the game a fresh face that could help in retaining subscribers longer than is experienced with previous expansions. But what impresses us most is how well localized Warlords of Draenor is up-front. With no delay the MMO supports Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Korean, Latin American Spanish, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish and Traditional Chinese. All of which makes Warlords of Draenor a critical installment for the franchise. Depending on how well players are retained, this expansion will be the key to whether World of Warcraft remains relevant enough to have a shot at a 20-year tail.