Friday, January 05, 2007

How High will WoW's numbers go with the expansion?

The time is growing near for the first expansion of World of Warcraft to be released and most fans are holding their breath in anticipation. Many people have grown overly familiar with the current content in the game but stuck it out since the expansion was just around the corner. But for every person who stayed with the game, another left and vowed not to return until there was new content. Now a lot of people are starting to wonder, "Just how many players will come back?"

Its an important question since a high amount of returning players could effect server stability. Around the time of patch 1.9 Blizzard announced 7 million subscribers with about 2 million of them being in North America. Since no new milestone markers have been announced since then, we can assume that the numbers have probably fallen or stayed the same. With the release of the expansion though a good majority of ex-WoW players are expected to return. After all no new games are scheduled to be released until Vanguard in Febuary. This leaves a good period of time for the temptation of new MMORPG content to work its magic.

With the upgrades in game servers, patching, and account management Blizzard seems confident they are ready for the increase the expansion will bring. Sources from the WoW forums give information that Blizzard is preparing to handle up to a 25% increase in traffic. Of course the problem is that not only will the server traffic increase but that it will all be concentrated in the new Burning Crusade zones. Hopefully, this trend has been taken into effect and Blizzard has special ways of dealing with said population concentration without zone crashes and crushing latency.

Based on previous trends in the subscriber base I'm predicting sometime in March that Blizzard will anounce the 10 million milestone for World of Warcraft.


Saylah said...

Since going into the Outlands is through a portal, I wonder if Blizzard implemented a queuing mechanism there? It's certainly not anything they'd want to announce in advance but it would be a way to prevent mass over crowding in OL from bringing down a realm.

Relmstein said...

Its either that or they did some serious hardware upgrading of the servers that are going to host the outlands.

I believe at the moment each game server is actually comprised of three servers: Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor and Instances. I guess with the expansion they are most likely adding a top notch machine to be the Outlands server.

A couple people have mention they might just control Outland's population by only releasing limited expansion boxes. Hope this isn't true because I know a lot of people relying on pre-orders to get a box.

Anonymous said...

I just quit WoW. Many more (some after playing beta) see more of the same and are quiting before BC comes out.

The causual crowd is also losing interest.

Many new MMO's this year and other games.

A small spike for BC then a tapering off this year.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how leaving people always try to poison the well they leave behind. It's like they need to ensure themselves to have made the right decision by making sure it tastes foul to everyone else too.

Joshua said...

The last figure by Blizzard (available at was 7.5 million subscribers.

Daztur said...

Yeah but most of those 7.5 million are from Asia where people can play in cybercafes and pay by the hour (so the costs of signing up are virtually nothing and probably includes a lot of people who haven't played in months) so the number isn't as big as it seems.

Anonymous said...

Its funny how the addicts and fanboys defend when someone posts an opinion for discussion.

Relmstein said...

Its funny how I can always tell when a big site links to me because I start gettting people trading insults while anonymous.

The truth is that the Burning Crusade is probably going to have enough good content to significantly spike the number of WoW players. Also likely is that this is the highest WoW will ever go since most new games will copy WoW and design more for casual gamers.

On the numbers side World of Warcraft has around 2 million subscribers in North America, 1.4 million in Europe and the rest in Asia. The other contenders with high subscribers; Everquest2 and FFXI both have only around 200,000 in North America.