Wednesday, August 26

WOW Subscriber Numbers head South Again - is Final Fantasy 14 Really Closing In?

Not really, no. While WOW has indeed bled active players at a rather alarming rate lately - contrary to some press reports - Final Fantasy 14: Heavensward is nowhere near it in terms of popularity still. Let's take a closer look at what's really going on by first dissecting the hammering WOW has been taking lately. The venerable MMO has indeed seen some 44% of its active subscriber melt into thin air over the last six months. The game now has some 5.6 million players, still impressive in every way and well enough to keep it in the "most popular" MMO spot. The drop is a spectacular one though if one considers that some 12 million players paid for the online adventures of Azeroth in 2010, at the game's popularity-peak, and indeed, one cannot help but wonder where the trend will take the game provided the pace of "desertions" keeps up or God forbid picks up. That said though, Final Fantasy 14 is just not in the same league with WOW and it may never be in the same league regardless of the quality of the content it delivers. One has to bear in mind that WOW was not just an MMO: it was a sort of cultural phenomenon. Anyone looking to equal that status has to get up awfully early in the morning, and getting lucky doesn't hurt either.

When comparing the two titles popularity-wise, one has to note that WOW is on the tail end of an expansion, a spot where dropping subscriber numbers are expected. Final Fantasy 14 on the other hand is currently riding a fresh expansion, which never fails to draw stragglers back into the game-realm. On top of that, the real numbers aren't really favoring FF at a closer look either: WOW does indeed have 5.6 million active players, and some 100 million registered accounts (which is quite natural considering the age/longevity/popularity of the game). FF on the other hand has some 5 million registered accounts and some 1 million active users. The difference is quite daunting in fact, and since registered users are not active players, FF has a lot of catching up to do.

Above and beyond petty comparisons and manufactured sensationalism though, there is an interesting and potentially worrisome development in regards to the revenues generated by WOW. Despite the dropping player numbers, Activision Blizzard have reported record growth lately, a clear indication of the fact that the company is no longer as reliant on WOW revenue-wise as it was back in 2011. What that translates to is that life without WOW may not be such a distant possibility anymore...

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