Updated @ 5:15 p.m. with further info regarding World of Warcraft’s expansion sales.
Developer Blizzard’s massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft isn’t the financial giant it once was. The subscription-based title’s revenues are actually down 54 percent in the last seven months, according to industry analysis firm SuperData Research.
Superdata released a report that claims World of Warcraft generated around $93 million in total revenues in April. That’s a ton of cash, but it’s way down from the $204 million the MMO generated in September.
In that time, World of Warcraft lost 1.3 million subscribers. In May, the game still had 8 million players, but it’s unlikely that number is going to bounce back up. While the drop in monthly members is certainly taking a toll on WOW’s revenues, it’s also important to keep in mind that the latest World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria, debuted in September and sold millions of copies early on. It’s natural for revenues to drop since then.
In July, GamesBeat reported that Blizzard is testing microtransactions in World of Warcraft in addition to its Blizzard store that currently exists outside of the game.
“Despite major declines in total revenues between September 2012 and April 2013, the game has seen an increasing conversion rate for the its current, add-on, extra-game store, and its microtransaction revenues have held pat overall,” reads the SuperData report. “What it tells us is that dedicated WOW players are interested in — and will spend money on — microtransactions. By bringing this system into the game, and allowing for powerups and performance-based microtransactions, WOW hopes to further entice players to spend.”
We’ve reached out to Blizzard to ask if these numbers are part of the reason it is looking to implement in-game purchasing.
It seems unlikely that World of Warcraft would go completely free-to-play. Instead, it seems like Blizzard will implement a hybrid model that enables it to continue charging the monthly fee while also selling in-game items to players.