During a recent earnings call, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack revealed that World of Warcraft‘s subscriber count has doubled since the release of WoW Classic.
“Given the content updates for modern WoW, and the cadence that we have for Classic, we exited our year with a subscriber base that was double what it was at the end of Q2,” says Brack. “And we also see players remaining engaged in both versions of the game. We launched Visions of N’zoth, which is a content patch for modern WoW, in January. Engagement with Classic has been particularly strong in the East, and we see very high levels of player retention there.”
Brack also vaguely touched upon how Blizzard intends to continue to support World of Warcraft Classic moving forward.
“When we designed the model for World of Warcraft Classic, it was important that players have a single existing subscription to support both games,” Brack says. “We think about the WoW community as supporting both, even though Classic and modern are very distinct experiences. And we’re committed to continuing to support both of those experiences over the long term.”
There are a couple of interesting things you can take from these statements. First off, Brack says that the doubled subscriber count figure is based on how the studio exited the year. That means that while World of Warcraft Classic has almost assuredly lost some subscribers since its debut last year, it sounds like retention has been remarkably high. On that same note, it’s also worth noting that Brack says the player count in the East has been particularly high, which is usually a good indication that a studio will remain committed to a project.
So far as that commitment goes, though, we really don’t know how Blizzard will continue to support World of Warcraft Classic in the long-term. After the release of WoW Classic‘s previously planned phases, there’s some debate about what Blizzard will do with the game. Some have speculated that they’ll re-release a retro version of The Burning Crusade expansion while others have argued that they should build a “Classic+” game that adds new content to the retro experience. Others have said that WoW Classic should just remain as it is.
The Shadowlands expansion for retail WoW will likely release later this year, so we hope that Blizzard will shed some light on the future of WoW Classic before the end of 2020.