Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The World of Warcraft 2014 Q1 Subscription Numbers Are In!

     I was on the conference call with the Activision Blizzard gang yesterday and things are looking great. I don't invest with them but I like to stay up to date on the business side of things. New games are coming out, profits are up, even Kevin Spacey is on board as the villain in Call of Duty Advanced Warfare. But no one reading this cares about First Person Shooters, amiright?! So lets get to the meat and potatoes and get talking about some Blizzard products.

Diablo 3 Reaper of Souls Wallpaper
Diablo 3
     Mike Morhaime got on the mike (get it?) and started off with Diablo 3. It's broken records as the top selling game of 2014 so far and had 2.7 million purchases in its first week alone. Mr. Morhaime said "We attribute a lot of the game's success to a focused effort on listening to player feedback and making improvements to the game based on that feedback." While that may sound like a pretty obvious course of action, it can be an expensive one, and was seemingly ignored for a majority of Diablo 3's release until recently. Thank goodness this has changed because things are gamers are getting involved again. Players can look forward to content updates that include Tiered Rifts, which will be Rifts that increase in difficulty and give greater rewards based on that difficulty, as well as "The Ultimate Evil Edition," a console edition of Reaper of Souls.

Hearthstone Curse of Naxxramas WTBGold
     As far as numbers go (which y'all know I'm big on) 10 million people downloaded and played the game even before the official launch of the game, which is phenomenal. With the launch of the IPad version, even more people have joined and Blizzard has earned a top rating on Metacritic. However, they claimed it was too early to talk specific numbers of the IPad launch, which I kindof don't buy, but whatever. The big news is the upcoming expansion of the Curse of Naxxramas "The Naxxramas content will be released over several weeks. To celebrate the launch, the first set of content will be free for a limited time, while the subsequent ones will be unlockable through in-game gold or real money." This is great news because it gives alternatives to Arenas for those who don't like that content, and it gives players another option to spend gold, since once you have all the cards you need, gold is essentially worthless.
     Personally, I've always had a problem with companies that say "we released this product on 'so-and-so date' when they had an massively marketed open beta months or years prior. Other than that sneaky little bit of finagling, Hearthstone is going great, and is a fantastic game that I love playing. I can get lost in it when I feel like it, or can spend 10 minutes if I'm in a rush and just want to knock out a daily quest. Great job, Blizz.

Heroes of the Storm Bikini Stitches WTBGold MOBA Team Brawler
Heroes of the Storm
      Again no numbers were released on this product but they're super excited about the combination of MOBA/Team Brawler and the iconic blizzard characters. It's in Technical Alpha right now but will be opening up to larger audiences soon, but no word on whether or not this will be an open beta. At the PAX East event though, people stood in line for 2 hours just to play. Pretty phenomenal. Blizzard, if you're reading, I wanna invite! Let me innnnn!

World of Warcraft Warldords of Draenor Logo Wallpaper
World of Warcraft
     Alright, so things dropped off a smidge from 7.8 million subscribers to 7.6. With no new content released, this slight falloff was to be expected, and in the call, he said that before Warlords of Draenor is released, things will probably fall off a little more. From my perspective, while games like Wildstar may nibble away at the MMO market share, any doomsayers out there that think a 200k sub drop is worth prophesying the end of the world, should just relax and join a Flex raid. We all lived through one Cataclysm. This is the end of expansion blues. As Mr. Morhaime relates "Overall, we're pleased with the ongoing stability in the player base but look ahead cautiously given seasonality and the late expansion cycle dynamics." They know what they're doing and have done this five times before. They're prepared.
     On the other hand, even though WoD is still 7 months away from it's 12/20/2014 scheduled release date, it already has 1 million presales. These come with an automatic lvl 90 boost, which I used to level my Pacifist toon to 90 (yes, I gave up on the goal to level it through mining and herbalism alone, although I still haven't killed anything after several hours of farming ore and herbs in Valley of the Four Winds). You can also purchase level 90 boost for $60, and those seem to be going better than expected, and I really wish they would have released some numbers on how people purchased these 90 boosts, but no luck. That was the call though, hope my wrap up was informative!

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