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Analyst says World of Warcraft Pandaria sales disappoint

Analyst says World of Warcraft Pandaria sales disappoint

Fri 28 Sep 2012 2:41pm GMT / 10:41am EDT / 7:41am PDT
Games

Lazard Capital estimates 600-700k copies of expansion sold at retail, down 60 percent from previous add-on

Blizzard launched World of Warcraft's latest expansion, Mists of Pandaria, this week, but one analyst believes the fourth expansion for the MMORPG has been falling short of its lineage. Lazard Capital Markets told VentureBeat that the firm estimates Mists of Pandaria sold between 600,000 and 700,000 copies at retailers since its launch on Tuesday.

While that figure doesn't take into account downloadable Mists of Pandaria purchases, Lazard analyst Atul Bagga told the site digitally distributed copies likely won't compensate for the estimated 60 percent drop in physical sales from the last expansion, 2010's Cataclysm. The week after Cataclysm launched, Blizzard announced that between retail packages and downloads, the game sold 3.3 million copies in its first 24 hours. The second expansion, 2008's Wrath of the Lich King, sold 2.8 million copies in its first day on sale, while the original World of Warcraft add-on, 2007's The Burning Crusade, notched 2.4 million sales.

World of Warcraft has been the undisputed king of subscription-based MMORPGs almost from the start of its eight-year run, but the game has run into some resistance lately. At its peak in 2010, World of Warcraft topped 12 million active subscribers. However, since then the number has trended downward and as of last month had fallen to 9.1 million. At the time, Blizzard president Mike Morhaime said such a drop was to be expected near the end of an expansion cycle, and pinned some of the blame on the company's Diablo III launch drawing players away from World of Warcraft.

While many of its competitors have moved from subscription to free-to-play models as they faced adversity in the market, Blizzard has been resistant to making the switch with World of Warcraft. Instead, the company lets players try the game for free, but halts their progress at level 20.

17 Comments

Mihai Cozma
Indie Games Developer

123 34 0.3
Popular Comment
Most people I know got the digital one, and I plan to do the same when I'll have some spare time to play it. These data is rubbish.

Posted:A year ago

#1
The price of the digital version is only very slightly above that of retail, and the PC market is increasingly download-based anyway, so I'm certain most players chose to go digital this time around. It's much harder to find physical copies of PC games these days anyway, although World of Warcraft is usually an exception to that.

However, I believe the number of players upgrading on day one will have been significantly reduced due to Blizzard's decision to provide most of the new content to existing players for free. Purchasing the new expansion doesn't provide anywhere near the amount of content that the last two expansions did. I haven't upgraded yet and I'm happily running around with my new Pandaren!

Posted:A year ago

#2

Jess Kappeler
Game Designer

15 26 1.7
I'd be interested to see the digital sales. I haven't bought a hard copy of a game in years.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

1,993 902 0.5
The price of the digital version is only very slightly above that of retail...
And why the hell are people putting up with this crap overpricing of digital goods? No box, manual, shipping fees to retailers and other overhead costs that make packed games expensive SHOULD mean that expansion (and hell, every other digital game) sell for far less than a boxed copy.

Eh, whatever - we've devalued some games to the point of disposable anyway, so I guess premium priding for something as urgently needed as the Kung Fu Pandamonium Pack: Hong Kong Phooey Edition doesn't faze the rabid fan base one bit.

Posted:A year ago

#4
When they roll out VR MMO, that'll probably kick most MMO in the teeth

Posted:A year ago

#5

Roland Austinat
roland austinat media productions|consulting

112 57 0.5
"While that figure doesn't take into account downloadable Mists of Pandaria purchases"

This. However, we are still talking 2.5 million downloads in that case to reach the Cataclysm number, which does seem a bit high.

Many of the players I know have stopped playing over the last year and I doubt that they're coming back right now. Let's see if Blizzard will ever release the download sales figures.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Emily Rose
Freelance Artist

81 34 0.4
Greg, people are paying for convenience. Also keep in mind travel costs, not everyone has a games store in walking range (especially for a midnight release)

If I wanted to buy a physical copy of anything that's an extra 3.80 on the bus and about an hour round trip (with queues, traffic, and hours after release)

Posted:A year ago

#7

David Amirian
Writer

59 3 0.1
Blizzard is also "saving" on convenience of not having to push as many of those boxes out there and not having to pay for shipping them either. Those are costs that are baked into the 60 dollar price tag, but are no longer "needed" in a download-based retail game. I am of the opinion that people who think that that digital = price reduction are delusional anyway. People will pay the big bucks no matter how they get it.

Also, Mists has released during a non-holiday month. Cata and Lich King both released during November/December area, which may account for the lesser amount of sales in addition to Cataclysm leaving a bad taste in people's mouths.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Matt Walker
Production Coordinator

41 23 0.6
9.1 million active subscribers even now? That is impressive.

Posted:A year ago

#9
Aye frankly, I very rarely by boxed products in recent years, they probably sold many more digital then boxed, one would expect an MMO audience at least to be more computer savvy then not, so more inclined to buy online then boxed, so I am highly suspicious of boxed only figures, I am however ever more convinced of the need for a digital sales equivellent industry wide.

Posted:A year ago

#10

Alex O'Dwyer
Animator

162 155 1.0
It really is about time that digital sales are included in these numbers, without them the numbers are meaningless.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Dirk van Wijk
Student - Computer Science (Master)

28 13 0.5
And why the hell are people putting up with this crap overpricing of digital goods? No box, manual, shipping fees to retailers and other overhead costs that make packed games expensive SHOULD mean that expansion (and hell, every other digital game) sell for far less than a boxed copy.
Isn't this because Blizzard (or any publisher) isn't really allowed to price their digital download below retail? If they do they'll screw their retail partners.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dirk van Wijk on 30th September 2012 6:05pm

Posted:A year ago

#12

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

542 528 1.0
Considering you could download the client in the background days before launch and the fact that the blizzard store has undergone some massive changes since Cataclysm, i woudl not be surprised if the online distribution has picked up the slack.

Everything runs through battle.net now, it's convinient to just get it there. What i'd be interested in is to find out how many people bought their copy with money earned in Diablo 3 :)

Posted:A year ago

#13

Alex O'Dwyer
Animator

162 155 1.0
My girlfriend got the boxed version but all we needed from it was the CDkey, the data had already been pre-loaded weeks in advance.

The only reason she got the the box was because she has the box for every other expansion and it seemed a shame not to get it. I would imagine most people don't really care for that and opt for the simpler and more reliable method of just buying it online.

Only Blizzard are in a position to tell us how many people bought it via all distribution methods.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alex O'Dwyer on 1st October 2012 9:31am

Posted:A year ago

#14

Mark Beesly
Business Director

7 1 0.1
For what it's worth, there was a lot of expectation amongst the player base that the expansion wouldn't deliver, that it was too 'fluffy' and that the new gameplay elements like pet battles were a red herring at best and devaluing the game for the 'casuals' at worst. The reality seems to be that a week in, from the folks I've spoken to and from buzz on official and non-official forums, a large amount of the player base who've purchased MoP are very pleasantly surprised at how good the new content and mechanics actually are. There's an overwhelming feeling that MoP is significantly better than the last xpac and that yet again Blizzard have delivered. I wouldn't be surprised that as this news reaches the more sceptical, there is a marked increase in sales, both at retail and digital.

On the retail to digital discussion, I don't know a single player who has bought the retail version. Everyone I know who plays has downloaded it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Mark Beesly on 1st October 2012 1:05pm

Posted:A year ago

#15

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,716 598 0.3
Is the disappointment because bricks and mortar high street retail is waning or because MMORPGs are waning?

Posted:A year ago

#16

JT
QA

26 17 0.7
I purchased the digital version. Silly figures, misleading.

Posted:A year ago

#17

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