In a recent earnings call press release [PDF], Activision Blizzard revealed that it has lost 1.3 million subscribers to its flagship game World of Warcraft in the first quarter of 2013, a 14% drop. Received games-business wisdom holds that only one "triple-A" game can thrive at a time, and WoW has been on top for years now. The Blizzard execs predict further declines as more players leave for free-to-play alternatives:
World of Warcraft has been in limelight on and off for both right as well as wrong reasons. Back in October 2012 entire cities in World of Warcraft were found dead – the reason for which was believed to be an in-game hack. Blizzard acknowledged that an in-game exploit was used by miscreants and fixed it before more users started using the exploit.
The gaming publisher isn't optimistic though and believes that the numbers will decline as time passes. According to Activision executives the subscriber base of WoW is expected to dip further as more and more free-to-play games emerge on the internet.
WoW's declining subscriber base won't be leaving too deep a wound for Activision as it's not the only franchise that is making money the gaming publisher. There are other franchises like the Diablo 3 and StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm alongside the bestselling Call of Duty series that Activision Blizzard will be counting on to recuperate the loss of subscribers.