With Mists of Pandaria just around the corner Activision Blizzard is hoping that their “dwindling” subscriber base will see a huge increase in returning and new players. World of Warcraft was, at one time, seeing 12 million subscribers on average and has recently dropped as low as the 9 million mark. There are quite a few factors that come into play for this decrease. WoW has been around since the end of 2004 and the age is definitely driving some players to newer worlds to explore. Blizzard is notorious for long development cycles for the expansions for their flagship MMO, but when they do launch something new, you can be assured it is a quality product. Unfortunately, with the amount of time spent in game by many players, the content can dry up before new things to do are released.
With the recent release of Star Wars: The Old Republic and Tera, Blizzard has new, high quality competition that has been taking some of the faithful away, at least for a while. To exacerbate the problem SW:TOR recently announced that it will be going free-to-play in the very near future. Things are not all doom and gloom for Blizzard though, depending on how you feel about Vivendi. They had planned to sell their majority stake in the game maker, but have recently made moves that make that seem to be unlikely.
So where will WoW stand when Mists of Pandaria enters the market? It is hard to say, but the expansion is bringing some exciting new features that could bring in a whole new type of player. With the Pokemon like combat system, cute Panda characters and even more content, new players and old players may start subscribing to the game once again. No matter how you look at it, 9 million subscribers is still an astounding number, and Blizzard still stands as one of the greatest MMO developers out there. You may not like the game, but that doesn’t mean Blizzard didn’t make a solid game, it would seem plenty of people love it, or have loved the time they spent in it, and hopefully the pandas will be sad no longer.