Some the most profitable titles in the gaming industry used to be MMORPGs.
Gamers would pay for the software, and were then charged a monthly fee to access online servers. As you are no doubt aware, the most successful and popular MMORPG of all time is World of Warcraft (WoW). The game has now been around for eight years and continues to expand with multiple expansion packs.
The latest expansion pack is Mists of Pandaria which will launch in about a month. Blizzard is hoping the pack will lure gamers back to the franchise.
At its high point two years ago, World of Warcraft boasted more than 12 million subscribers around the world. However, Activision Blizzard recently confirmed the video game has slightly more than 9 million paying customers as of June 2012. Meaning, the still popular game has lost an additional 1 million paying subscribers.
News of the subscriber numbers for the game came during Activision Blizzard's Q2 earnings call where it was announced that net income fell to $185 million, a decline of 45% compared to the previous year. At the end of Q1, World of Warcraft boasted 10.2 million users. The loss adds up to 1.1 million in a three-month period.
President of Blizzard Entertainment Michael Morhaime said the company expects a substantial number of players to return with the latest expansion pack in September. He also claims a similar user defection happened around the launch of Cataclysm, the game's last expansion pack that went live in 2010.
Of course, Activision Blizzard isn't alone in seeing users leave its MMORPG titles. Indeed, Electronic Arts has suffered a fairly notable rate of attrition for Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG. To be sure, the game is going free to play in an effort to lure players back. Don't hold your breath for World of Warcraft ago free to play though, as most think such an offering is quite a long ways off.