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World of Warcraft: Cataclysm – by the numbers.

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

World of Warcraft released its 3rd expansion pack, Cataclysm, this past Monday, December 7th and the numbers are rolling in. It destroyed PC game sales records by selling 3.3 million the first day, counting preorders. Beating the previous record breaker of 2.8 million one day sales held by Wrath of the Lich King which beat the previous one day sales record of 2.4 million held by The Burning Crusade.

That’s a phenomenal number. A success by any measure.

What I don’t get is there are 12 million active subscribers to WoW; why did only 3.3 million of them (27.5%) buy the new expansion? To put that another way nearly 3/4 of thier active subscribers did not buy the expansion.  Even though, through preorders, they have had over a month to do so.  

Is this normal for MMO games? Subscribers sitting around waiting months to buy the new content? So few games release actual numbers it’s hard to tell.

The numbers:

The Burning Crusade

2,400,000 copies sold in the first 24 hours. (30% of active subscribers)

3,500,000 copies sold in the first month. (43.7% of active Subscribers)

8,000,000 subscribers at the time.

Wrath of the Lich King

2,800,000 copies sold in the first 24 hours (25.4% of active subscribers)

4,000,000 copies sold in the first month  (36.36% of active subscribers)

11,000,000 subscribers at the time.

Cataclysm

3,300,000 copies sold in the first 24 hours (27.5% of active subscribers)

12,000,000 subscribers at the time.

There is no monthly sales number yet, obviously.  If Cataclysm follows the trend the first month number should be around 4.3-4.5 million copies sold (on average they sell 1.1 to 1.2 million copies after the first 24 hours by one month out). It’s not a straight downward curve, but it does seem to be a struggle for Blizzard to recapture the furver built up around The Burning Crusade. Cataclysm would need to sell around 5.3 million by month end to beat out The Burning Crusade, percentage wise.

I have no idea what this means. Is this a product of expanding to far outside of the “hardcore” gamers? Are casual gamers subscribed to WoW not feeling the need to buy the expansion, even after a month?

What do you think?

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