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World of Warcraft loses 6 million users

By on July 7, 2009

To lose a million users may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose 6 million looks like carelessness.

World of Warcraft may be in imminent danger of losing its crown as the largest massively-multiplayer online role-playing game in the world, as its user numbers fall by 50%.

WoW’s Chinese servers are down, according to blogger Tobold, and have been for a month. And the Chinese market represents about six million Warcraft players.

Of course, these users are not that profitable for Activision Blizzard. Chinese rules mean that they have to operate in partnership with a local company which takes most of the revenue.

The current issue may be political. Activision Blizzard ended its relationship with former WoW operator The9 due, I believe, to EA’s 15.8% stake in The9. But it is also geopolitical: the Chinese General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) has to approve the release of “an electronic publication belonging to an overseas copyright holder”. Marbridge Consulting reports that:

“At the 2008 Annual Meeting for China Online Gaming, GAPP said that in order to protect the interests of domestic gaming enterprises, it would suspend review of all games belonging to foreign companies in the event of lawsuits or arbitration between foreign companies and Chinese companies.”

So perhaps unsurprisingly, The9 has brought four lawsuits against Blizzard in Shanghai. And the Warcraft servers stay down. I’m sure that competitors are swarming to attract former WoW players to their own MMORPGs even as we speak.

The financial impact for Activision Blizzard is likely to be small. Chinese players do not spend anywhere near as much per head as Western subscribers. But the prestige impact of no longer being the largest MMORPG in the world is likely to grate on Bobby Kotick.

Oh, and the stigma of “failing” in the Chinese market if they don’t resolve this issue quickly.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: thecurveonline.com
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  • jonash

    So does it mean that chinese didn't enjoy wow gold grinding and raidings for one month now? I hope Blizzard will resolve this problem. Six million users are still great number of clients to lose. If they will not resolve it, I think competitors out there are now thinking of ways to attract those former WoW player now.

  • Kerahl

    Good.

    Less gold farmers and bots.

  • HowdyHO

    They lost access to their own servers….not the US ones. So unless you were playing on the Chinese servers….it's gonna be the same about of gold selling and botting as before.

  • LoL

    Amazing. Seriously. Go back to school for reading comprehension before you comment. The Chinese servers have zero impact on the US servers since they would be playing on local servers. It's not going to decrease gold farming and botting at all. FYI though, most of the bot users are actually US players who have 2nd/3rd accounts for farming (read the bot forums if you still don't understand).

  • chinesefarmer

    shit who am i gonna buy WoW gold now from? and who is gonna power level my toons to 80? and who is gonna advertise their WoW gold buying sites in the trade channel for only 3 payments of $19.99 for 20000 gold?

  • LoL

    Amazing. Seriously. Go back to school for reading comprehension before you comment. The Chinese servers have zero impact on the US servers since they would be playing on local servers. It's not going to decrease gold farming and botting at all. FYI though, most of the bot users are actually US players who have 2nd/3rd accounts for farming (read the bot forums if you still don't understand).

  • chinesefarmer

    shit who am i gonna buy WoW gold now from? and who is gonna power level my toons to 80? and who is gonna advertise their WoW gold buying sites in the trade channel for only 3 payments of $19.99 for 20000 gold?

  • miimp

    I tried a somewhat free mmo “Perfect World”. There are some really good things about this game. All the players seem really enthusiastic and mostly happy to be there. I had no trouble finding group invites… The spells that are cast by your toon have some great animations. For all the appearance obsessed players there is 'fashion', and you can actually have your fashion showing, rather than your armor while in combat. There is a ton of styles and combination's. You can dye your clothes and get cosmetic makeovers. I kinda even liked how the trade skills worked. Less mats to keep track of… You can do all the gathering of ores, and flowers, and get all the trade skills, you don't have to choose only two trade skills. The character customization is awesome. Its hands down the best character creation I have seen in a MMO.
    Now I only made it to lvl 56… so I am no expert, but I could no longer ignore that Perfect World is kind of like an amusement ride with the animatronics turned off. Most of the quests are kill 40 of this or that monster. The monsters are really stupid. Its easy to figure out which ones are chained and will pull nearby monsters. There really is very little planning or strategy involved in doing these quests. A few of the quests try to add some variations, but it will tell you something like “and there is a burst of sparks as the sword withdraws itself from the rock” and you are standing there, and you just have to take its word for it, because there is no animation to see. When you aren't repeatedly killing the same monsters, there are boss fights for variety. And there are daily bounty hunter quests where you kill the same boss for that lvl every day.. day after day… They also skipped a lot of random things I enjoyed in Wow like finding treasure chests, and random bosses or named characters who always drop some sort of item, if you happen to come upon them in the world. You can't enter most buildings in Perfect World. The instances, or FBs as they are called, are not real exciting. And it turns out that Perfect World really isn't so Perfect, I mean free, after all. You have to pay real money if you want a fast mount, fashion, bag space, bank space, special event items, your makeover, your clothes dyes, a hammer to open certain boxes (or alternatively you can excessively farm to buy it in the player auction house, and some people even go so far as to get an in game sugar daddy :) .
    Oh .. but my point was I got a week invite to go back to WOW. and all I could say was Wow ! after playing The Lich King and starting a Death Knight. The animations, were beautiful. It was like Wow used every past talent in this expansion. I was very impressed. But… lonely. I hadn't been to Wow for a year, and it was empty… It was missing the enthusiasm of the players in Perfect World. I hope Warcraft can get it's Ju-Ju back. Perfect World seemed to copy a lot of interface appearances, and ideas from Wow. Maybe Wow needs to put some effort into finding what people are missing and finding in other MMOs.

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  • http://wowgoldsale.ru Tim

    sorry for offtopic, but could you please suggest me a guild that is easy join? :) I recenly had a quarrel with my old one, and now I want to join some other :)

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    With most players on the World of Warcraft servers on the weekends, there are different kind of players playing on the weekend than Monday through Friday. Most casual players are the ones on during the weekends. These players are often not as serious about the gold-making process that you are. They are unaware of the pricing and economic schemes going on, and will add a superficial or unrepresentative spin to the Market during short spans. With this in mind, the buyer spike during the weekends floods the economy with cheap goods and cheap money. With Dugi's Ultimiate WoW Guide you'll gain a major advantage over other players in the game, check it out now!

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