SuperData Report – Shadowlands Numbers Stabilizing as Expansion Honeymoon Phase Ends

SuperData Report - Shadowlands Numbers Stabilizing as Expansion Honeymoon Phase Ends

World of Warcraft player numbers fell back to normal levels as the excitement around November’s Shadowlands expansion subsided. From November to January, revenue fell by 61% and user numbers declined by 41% (these figures do not include China). This roughly matches the pattern seen for the past several expansions, though Shadowlands had a bigger launch. Blizzard does appear to have found a way to increase how often expansions are able to boost earnings. The publisher recently announced that it will be adding the 2007 Burning Crusade expansion into World of Warcraft: Classic this year. Alternating between releasing all-new and classic expansions could cause WoW revenue to spike annually for the near future, instead of every two years (the typical development time for the title’s expansions).

This may sound gloomy, but it’s entirely expected that launch hype inflated numbers drop off over time, as it’s something that happens with every expansion. Shadowlands hype lasted longer than usual though and drove incredibly growth in total PC earnings, with World of Warcraft taking the top PC spot in November 2020 for the first time since August 2018, only falling to third place behind the ill-fated Cyberpunk 2020 and League of Legends in December. Keep in mind that these numbers also only look at western audiences, while WoW still maintains an extremely large presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

November and December respectively

Revenue and player numbers dropping off don’t necessarily mean that Shadowlands is on the decline, as patch cycles revitalize interest and patch 9.1 is on the horizon, but Shadowlands has had a somewhat slower development cycle than usual – likely as a result of the development team working from home. If we’d had 9.1 already, those numbers likely would have remained high, but as is, we’re still waiting for the much smaller patch 9.0.5 before we even start a new PTR, indicating that any new end-game content coming in Patch 9.1 is still several months away. That said, SuperData goes further by noting that Blizzard is doubling down on the success of World of Warcraft: Classic with the upcoming Burning Crusade Classic, which was officially revealed two weeks ago at BlizzConline, which indicates an increased tempo for World of Warcraft as a whole, keeping players engaged as they bounce between content cycles for each of the two versions of the game.

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