World of Warcraft Tops 12 Million Subscribers

Blizzard announced this morning that World of Warcraft had finally topped 12 million subscribers. I saw the news first in a post on Twitter from the @Warcraft account, but here’s the scoop from the press release:

Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. announced today that the subscriber base for World of Warcraft®, its award-winning massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), now exceeds 12 million players worldwide. This milestone was reached in the wake of the mainland Chinese launch of World of Warcraft’s second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King®, and also as global anticipation continues to mount for the December 7 release of the game’s third expansion, Cataclysm™.

“The support and enthusiasm that gamers across the world continue to show for World of Warcraft reaffirms our belief that it offers one of the best entertainment values available today,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We are as committed as ever to taking the game to new heights, and we look forward to demonstrating that with Cataclysm in December.”

The press release then goes on to hit a little history that I think we all know by this point – that World of Warcraft has done ridiculously well every year since its release, that it and its expansions have topped sales charts around the world each year, especially on years when expansions are released, and how World of Warcraft is clearly the most popular MMO franchise in the world.

Still, you have to ask the question: how does Blizzard do it? Even now, in a year between expansions where people are eagerly anticipating the release of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and many people have even stopped playing the game entirely because the content from the last expansion has been exhausted, Blizzard doesn’t just have staying power, but it’s proven that it has growing power even during dormant periods (for the players anyway – clearly not for developers.)

It’s really impressive, all things told – and I have every reason to believe that the player base will see a boost when mainland China gets its version of World of Warcraft, and when Cataclysm comes out early next year.

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