World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft VP reveals subscriber trends

During a GDC 2024 talk by John Hight, Senior Vice President and the Warcraft franchise’s executive producer, we finally got some long-awaited subscriber trends data.

As reported by Inven, for the first time in a while we saw a graphic showing World of Warcraft‘s current subscribers and how they’ve changed over the past few years. This info had been missing since Blizzard stopped reporting it during Warlords of Draenor.

WoW has over 7 million active players
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The graphic showed that World of Warcraft struggled after the release of Battle for Azeroth, but the Classic version of the game helped bring things back up. However, after Shadowlands, Blizzard’s subscriber projections fell way short of expectations. Burning Crusade Classic didn’t do as well as Classic, and Dragonflight only got about half the subscribers Blizzard hoped for.

The executive producer also mentioned that the Shadowlands Afterlife setting wasn’t accessible, and well-known story heroes were diminished, which matched 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.

Lessons learned from Shadowlands – Blizzard at GDC
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But Blizzcon gave us hope. Blizzard outlined their plans for the future, including things like the Season of Discovery, The War Within, and World of Warcraft Hardcore. Subscribers responded well to these changes.

From my perspective, bringing back Season of Discovery for vanilla fans and revamping gear in the retail version helped get subscriber numbers back up, almost like during World of Warcraft Legion.

While the Bellular Warcraft team estimated current subscriber numbers at around 7.25 million, this isn’t official, but it gives us an idea of where things might be headed.