Morhaime: 2010 Warcraft sales already higher than 2009
Plus StarCraft II retail sales "exceeded our expectations"
Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime claims that 2010 has been a banner year for World of Warcraft - even before third expansion Catacylsm launches next month.
"2010 MMORPG sales are up compared to the entirety of 2009," he told investors yesterday.
While he declined to reveal figures, he said of China that "The new [Lich King] content has been a tremendous success in the region. [It's] one driver in pushing the global player base above 12 million."
He was optimistic that the impending release of Cataclysm could further grow subscriber numbers. "This expansion is uniquely positioned compared to previous expansions to drive replayability.
Catacylsm overhauls existing WoW zones, which Morhaime believes will attract lapsed subscribers. "Bringing back players that have taken a break from the game has been a big driver in increasing outreach to players."
Also a success for Blizzard this year was StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. While Morhaime declined to reveal sales figures beyond the previously-announced three million sales over its first month, he claimed "The global retail launch of StarCraft II exceeded all of our expectations."
The PC strategy title had been "by far the most successful" launch for the company, he claimed. "It sold almost as many copies in its first month in the US as the original World of Warcraft sold in its first year."
"The success of the initial launch and the continuing growth of community sets us up well for future expansions." He also refused to divulge any figures on the retail/digital split, but expected success from the Map Marketplace, "which is our version of the App Store for StarCraft."
Morhaime also had high hopes for the forthcoming Latin America and South-East Asia releases of the game, which would see alternative business models to spread adoption amongst lower-income gamers.
He went on to claim that, although StarCraft 1 remained the game of choice in South Korea, "StarCraft II is slowly gaining in popularity in the region. We expect Korean players to gradually transition to StarCraft II over time."
Third-quarter Blizzard revenue was up 68 per cent compared to the same period last year, with operating income jumping some 112 per cent.