Blizzard’s behemoth has been slowly leaking subscribers since the beginning of 2011, but the latest drop in numbers for World of Warcraft can be attributed in large part to the launch of BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic according to Blizzard’s John Lagrave.
While SWTOR currently stands at over 1.7 million subscribers, World of Warcraft has been struggling with player retention following the release of Cataclysm, with numbers peaking at 12 million in late 2010.
“We certainly do look at [where WoW players go], and we have a very smart bunch of guys who do our analytics for us,” said senior World of Warcraft producer John Lagrave. “Of course people are trying Star Wars – our development team are trying Star Wars! I’m one of the few people who’s still playing it actually, but yeah we’ve seen a dip in subs. It certainly has to at least be attributable to The Old Republic.”
Lagrave also mentions that the numbers may also be attributable to a desire to wait for Mists of Pandaria before resubscribing. A lot of stock is being placed in the next expansion’s ability to curb the downward trend in numbers, and while it isn’t for everyone, MoP has the same level of polish and quality expected of all Blizzard products. It will be very interesting to look at active subscribers 3-6 months after its release and gauge whether the expansion can be considered a success.