Blizzard ready to talk numbers again, World of Warcraft tops 12 million subscribers

Blizzard Entertainment has just announced that World of Warcraft’s subscriber base has reached an all time high with a standing army of over 12 million players. Does it seem like it’s been a while since you’ve read news about how many millions of people play WoW? That’s because Blizzard hasn’t sent out a press release about their subscriber base since November 21, 2008, when it was announced that 11.5 million players subscribe to WoW. Just one month before that, Blizzard announced that they had surpassed 11 million subscribers on October 28, 2008.

So, why has it been almost two years since we’ve heard about WoW’s subscriber base? According to Blizzard, “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.”

Although the Wrath of the Lich King expansion released in November of 2008, the game’s launch in China was delayed due to censorship issues until August of this year. Technical complications that followed Blizzard’s decision to transfer from The9 as the operator for WoW in China to NetEase also led to the game being down for about three weeks in 2009.

Above: Censorship and technical issues threw a wrench in Blizzard's plans, delaying WotLK's release in China and causing a lengthy downtime when service was unavailable

These factors could explain why we haven’t seen the numbers reports we’ve come to expect from Blizzard – and why it took nearly 2 years to reach the 12 million subscriber milestone we’re hearing about today. But now that complications with the game running in China appear to be settled and Cataclysm scheduled to launch this December, we wouldn’t be surprised to see another strong increase in WoW’s subscriber base this winter.

In case you’re wondering, here’s how Blizzard defines a World of Warcraft subscriber when counting the numbers:

World of Warcraft subscribers include individuals who have paid a subscription fee or have an active prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access. Internet Game Room players who have accessed the game over the last thirty days are also counted as subscribers. The above definition excludes all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or cancelled subscriptions, and expired prepaid cards. Subscribers in licensees’ territories are defined along the same rules.

Oct 7, 2010


  • ChrisCultista - October 8, 2010 7:44 p.m.

    THIS JUST IN!!! 4.5 billion people eat Spam on a monthly basis!
  • Ded - October 8, 2010 6:09 p.m.

    Search for "Peacebloom vs Ghouls" on YouTube.. That'll bring back some players for Cataclysm :D
  • Crabhand - October 8, 2010 11:25 a.m.

    I expect numbers will hit another all time high come December. I admit I'm interested in starting back up for Cataclysm, but there are too many good games coming out for me to piss time away on an MMO. Maybe when we get to spring I can dump some time into another upcoming MMO, but until then I'll be off that gravy train.
  • IIIIIACEIIIII - October 8, 2010 10:07 a.m.

    I haz so many excitements for Cataclysm. I don't know whether I should get my main to 85, or instantly roll a Goblin Rogue and do the soldier boy (or however the idiot spells it) dance over alliance bodies. Man that is going to piss them off so much.
  • ZakanSparta - October 8, 2010 7:05 a.m.

    I disapointment in Bliz became at WC3, contiduend at WoW and at the mid of BC addon made me to completely stop respecting them as game developers. Dont get me wrong, they are amazing at what they do - sucking money out of customers, but for me they are not game developers anymore. WoW's Pavlov/Skinnerian system (mesterfuly worked out, but deep insulting to gamers, if you stop to think of it), SC2 no-Lan policy, complete refusal to any apologies or admiting they are wrong even if they ARE wrong to the degree it forced them to roll bakc the RealID system --- all of that tells me enough about them as company, and I wont buy any of their games as personal small ote of protest. As for WoW subscriber base -- like many other poor souls, I wasted few years playing that game, so I'm not surprised that ALOT of players actualy leaving it, even considering Cataclysm coming. WoW was a pinnacle of simple, 1st generation MMO, and now its finished. Geting 4% (?) increase in subscribers' number after 2 years sounds not bad, until you consider its WITH CHINA's playerbase counted... Sorry for my somewhat negative reaction, I realy thing that what BLiz does now, and stand for, and moving other developers to do, is evil, and should be ignored by anyone who realy cares about gaming. Just my two cents, though...
  • CoryRX8 - October 8, 2010 5:31 a.m.

    I've got to say that I'm impressed with Blizzard's strict definition of subscriber. Most companies would have counted anyone who just has a character on the server as a subscriber because "who knows, they could come back!" in order to pad their numbers, whereas Blizzard looks like they're going to great lengths to make a subscriber equivalent to an active player. That may not seem like much, but in comparison to less truthful companies like Facebook (they claim 500 million active users, but they include anyone who still has a page on the site, regardless of how long they've been inactive) it's refreshing to see such up-front statistics.
  • jean-maxime - October 8, 2010 2:53 a.m.

    wow thats a %?$&ing amount of money per month ! mehhhhh who said shitty graphics sucked
  • enlargedhousecats - October 8, 2010 2:29 a.m.

  • enlargedhousecats - October 8, 2010 2:28 a.m.

    WoW, 12 mellon subscwibors I had to do that sorry
  • xerroz - October 8, 2010 2:14 a.m.

    Inb4 "World of warcraft drops to 5 Million subscribers" on Spring 2011 *wink wink*
  • EffinChrys - October 8, 2010 2:13 a.m.


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