Chart: How World Of Warcraft subscribers are leaving Azeroth

Blood Elf from World Of Warcraft at BlizzCon

The world’s most popular online multi-player role-playing game has been transported back five years, as falling player numbers return it to 2007 subscriber levels.

I compiled subscription disclosures from the last 22 quarters, including the latest from World Of Warcraft developer Activision-Blizzard’s majority owner Vivendi on Thursday, in to this chart…

Activision-Blizzard recently explained “the majority of declines … (are) coming from the East”. It began offering World Of Warcraft in China via the Netease online gaming giant in 2009, and this summer renewed the deal for a further three years; but China’s online gaming market is rich with several popular titles.

Subscribers to EA’s Star Wars: The Old Republic game have also fallen by 40 percent since the start of the year (via BBC News).

Vivendi, which owns 62 percent of Activision-Blizzard, on Thursday said its half-year EBITDA profit from the publisher is down by 31 percent – something it explained was “partly due to timing of game releases”.

Like peers, it is trying to wring more direct subscription revenue out of game players in an industry exposed to console and software release cyclicality. Last year, it introduced Call Of Duty Elite, a subscription tier for the leading war game.

Elite should be boosting this segment for the company, making up for World Of Warcraft‘s declines. But Vivendi on Thursday said half-year revenue from subscriptions fell by 29 percent to $448 million.

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