It seemed inevitable, but World of Warcraft lost subscribers again. According to the latest Activision-Blizzard Conference call, the current subscriber count is now 7.7 million. That is a loss of 600,000 subscribers in three months. A lot of people, myself included, are wondering when the subscriber numbers are going to bottom out and how many subscribers the game will have then.
We know in the last update that WoW lost 1.3 million, bringing it down to 8.3 million subscribers. Now the loss is only 600,000, so about half the loss as before. If that pattern continues, the game will lose another 300,000 in the next three months. That gives us a sequence of 150,000 -> 75,000 -> 32,500 and so on. In a year’s time the game would have around 7.1 million subscribers. However, the next expansion will definitely raise subscribers for a few months after it releases.
I believe Blizzard will release the next expansion pack about 8 months after the last Mists of Pandaria content patch. The last Mists of Pandaria content patch is 5.4, but it has not released yet. It is on the test server though (since June). Judging by past history it will be about 2 months (August) until 5.4 is released on the live servers. Eight months later would put the expansion release in April 2014.
It is July 2013 now and the expansion will be out in April 2014 for a total of 9 months until the expansion’s release. In 9 months, the game will lose 300,000 + 150,000 + 75,000 for a total of 525,000 subscribers lost by the time the next expansion is out. That leaves around 7.2 million subscribers still subscribing. I believe the expansion will add 500,000 to 1,000,000 subscribers for a month or two. Then, the game will either stay flat around 7 million or start losing subscribers again.
I know there are still a lot of active players that love the game, but each expansion is probably going to bottom out further and further just a little bit. The current expectation is that the last expansion will be when characters can get to level 100. That is only two expansion packs. The next expansion pack in 2014 will bring subscribers down to 7 million. The following expansion pack in, I predict, 2016 will bring subscribers down to 6 million. Finally, in 2018 I predict a free-to-play mode will be added to the game, with the subscription option still available.