World of Warcraft Shadowlands

Blizzard explains the reasons behind World of Warcraft Shadowlands’ poor performance

At GDC, Blizzard showcased their World of Warcraft subscriber trends for the first time. They are now similar to World of Warcraft Legion but dropped during Shadowlands. John Hight, the Senior Vice President and executive producer of the Warcraft franchise, explained what Blizzard learned from the Shadowlands expansion.

Earlier, we reported that during GDC, Blizzard finally revealed their subscriber trends from the last couple of expansions. The numbers are now almost similar to World of Warcraft Legion; however, there was a huge dip during the Shadowlands expansion. The Korean website Inven wrote about what went wrong during that period.

After Shadowlands, Blizzard’s subscriber projections fell way short of expectations. Burning Crusade Classic didn’t perform as well as Classic, and Dragonflight only received about half the subscribers Blizzard had hoped for.

Lessons learned from Shadowlands – Blizzard at GDC
byu/Kevombat inwow

John Hight, Senior Vice President and the Warcraft franchise’s executive producer, showed a graphic indicating that the Shadowlands Afterlife setting wasn’t accessible, and well-known story heroes were diminished, which aligned with what players had as feedback.

In terms of gameplay, there wasn’t enough variety, and the systems didn’t change to meet player expectations. The community felt ignored, and there were gaps in content delivery, with Blizzard seeming less transparent.