World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Sells 3.3 Million Copies in 24 Hours, Subscriptions Rise to 10 Million

Many have written off World of Warcraft as coasting steadily to mediocrity but chart-busting sales for its fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor, suggest that it still has the magic to excite millions of gamers.

The orc-centric expansion set in the namesake world of Draenor topped 3.3 million sales in the first 24 hours after releasing on November 13, Activision Blizzard announced. The number includes retail and digital download sales.

The feat is made more impressive since it excludes sales from much of Asia with Warlords of Draenor launching in South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau on November 21, according to Ars Technica’s Kyle Orland.

Warlords of Draenor is a blazing triumph for Blizzard in many ways.

The new expansion’s record matches that of the third expansion, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, which also sold 3.3 million copies in 24 hours when it released back in 2010 and broke PC sales records at the time.

Warlords of Draenor also overshadows the popularity of the fourth expansion, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, which sold only 2.7 million copies in under a week, notes Orland.

Activision Blizzard also announced that subscriptions have rebounded to 10 million, up from 7.4 million as of its latest reporting a couple of months ago. Variety’s Marc Graser says this is the first time since 2012 that World of Warcraft topped the 10 million mark. At its lowest, the MMO’s subscriber base dwindled to a mere 6.8 million in June 2014.

“The expansion has helped revitalize World of Warcraft’s flagging subciption numbers. The game was already the king of MMOs, but was dipping into the 7 million range,” says Forbes contributor Erik Kain. “At 10 million subscribers it’s still well below the glory days of 15 million subscribers.”

Prior to launch, there were already signs that the new expansion would be a hit. In August, Blizzard revealed that preorders for Warlords of Draenor had reached 1.5 million. Then during the company’s most recent earnings call, World of Warcraft subscriptions increased by 600,000 in the third quarter of 2014, a notable turnaround at that time after the MMO lost 800,000 subscribers in the second quarter of 2014. This represented an 8.8% increase to raise the total number of subscribers to 7.4 million.

Orland argues that one feature that could have driven up interest in Warlords of Draenor is its instant, one-time upgrade of a single character to level 90. The perk removes the leveling grind and allows players to reach the expansion’s new late game content.

“That new perk appears to be a big hit if these unexpectedly strong numbers are any indication,” says Orland, although he wonders if returning players who have been lured back by the expansion will stick around or if the new expansion “will be a temporary blip on World of Warcraft’s long-running decline.”

Activision Blizzard has plenty of reasons to keep players subscribed and logged into World of Warcraft.

The MMO is a cash cow for the studio. It remains the #1 subscription-based MMO in the world, commanding a 36% market share and bringing in over $1 billion a year, according to SuperData Research released last summer. This huge revenue stream helps fund the pipeline of new Activision Blizzard franchises like Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch both launching in 2015.

There is also a World of Warcraft live action film being produced by Legendary Entertainment that is coming out in early 2016, and having more active players should translate higher movie ticket sales.

In terms of guides, we have a free WoW Paladin Preparation Guide to Warlords of Draenor if you are interested. It features all you need to know in orde to have you Paladin ready for the newest WoW expansion.

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