SuperData August 2019: WoW Classic drives a massive subscription surge

    
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Alright, all you armchair business analysts, it’s time to look over SuperData’s sales research report for August 2019. Get your best arguments ready and try not to make Bree groan while moderating your responses. Here we go!

Surprising nobody, WoW Classic raked in huge numbers for Blizzard in terms of subscriptions: Subscription revenue jumped 223% in August when compared to July. However, it still falls short of the revenue total when compared to 2018’s Battle for Azeroth numbers, the last time WoW (West) broke into the top three on PC.

In terms of top grossers, Dungeon Fighter Online hits the top mark for PC, pushing League of Legends out of the way once again, while Fortnite makes the #1 spot on consoles. Top performers on PC also include respectively. Pokemon Go has hit a new high water mark in terms of sales, making $176 million in August and cresting its peak revenue when it launched in 2016. “Pokémon GO generated $176 million in August, marking its highest point since peaking in 2016,” SuperData argues. “Outperformance was partly driven by a flurry of in-game events as Niantic capitalized on what is typically the game’s strongest month.”

Here’s all of SuperData’s 2019 reports so far:

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Marty Woods

Well I imagine that Blizzard are looking at those numbers and are realizing that there is an audience for a more complex and challenging version of the game without all the frills like quest trackers and dungeon finders .

So knowing that I imagine they are thinking of ways to respond to keep that interest up . Maybe that idea of the pristine servers they were talking about which kept the original classic rule set and applied it to the retail game suddenly seems like it might not be quite so pie in the sky after all .

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Dwarf-Orc

I’m honestly surprised people still play LoL.

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Rodrigo Dias Costa

Nothing to be surprised at. They almost always do a great job supporting it with new content, and also it’s the most popular esport right now (as always has been since taking the crown from Starcraft on Korea).

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flying_dutchman

I really do hope blizzard decides to push forward with BC after phase 6 in classic.

A wow progression server in the style of EQ would be pretty cool.

Then again maybe they could just add some content to vanilla, I mean they have to have a few dungeons and raids setting around that they brainstormed for vanilla but decided not to put in for one reason or another.

Seems like doubling there subs for a few months might be worth throwing the fans a bone now and then.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Only if they stop at Wrath, nothing further than the Fall of Arthas, I wouldn’t even bother with Ruby Sanctum.

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Marty Woods

I think it would be a mistake to do that without giving people a choice but if they had dedicated BC servers that allowed you to copy your character to such a server while allowing it to continue to exist on a vanilla server then that would be ok .

I don’t think most people have come back for a progression experience they have come back for the classic vanilla experience .

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rafael12104

Well. Nothing earth-shattering with these numbers. And as lagging indicators, they look back which isn’t a bad thing, but the better trick to forecast and look forward.

Classic is not going anywhere. Even when the nuance wears off, many will remain playing the game and continue to progress through whatever content comes down the pipe. It is a huge hit and genius move by Blizz. What’s so genius about it? They stuck with their guns, never gave in to those who wanted the old code released publically to run private servers. Oh Blizz was forced to come to the table, but they retained every bit of their IP and they are reaping the benefits.

Disappointing to see NBA 2K19 made the console list. I’m sure it is only temporary and the game will continue its decline year over year. BUT, the initial release of the game probably makes it profitable given that there is very little new in these types of anual sports games. Almost copy and paste from last year except for the new and improved gambling mechanics.

I wonder how much Pokeman Go has made since launch? I bet it is more than the GDP of some nations.

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IronSalamander8 .

I keep seeing WoT on the list and consider dusting off my old account to play again. I last played when they added Japanese heavies to tier 10 (mostly conjectural tanks for obvious reasons), thanks to a lot of free XP I had saved up, but never went back.

Good game at its core to be sure, but friends never really got into it and looking at the old clan, they’ve broken up so doubt I’d really want to go back.

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James Balmer

The only exclusives in the console category are Ninteno – which I’m over the moon about, they’re the only console developer actually making worthwhile exclusives lately.

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Schmidt.Capela

Makes me really happy that the Switch emulators are progressing by leaps and bounds. Not that I dislike Nintendo — I do have a Switch, as well as about a dozen other assorted Nintendo consoles, after all — but I utterly and completely hate exclusivity, to the point I keep wishing each new generation of Nintendo hardware to fail hard and force Nintendo to follow the same steps as Sega (of which I’ve been playing more games than Nintendo ever since Sega started releasing their games for PC).

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Toy Clown

So weird I’ve never heard of 80% of the titles on the top-grossing list.

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Schmidt.Capela

Dungeon Fighter Online and Crossfire are both Korean games, far stronger in Asia than in the rest of the world (and both are among the best grossing entertainment products of all time, each having surpassed $10 Billion in revenue and 600M registered players).

Fantasy Westward Journey Online II is a long-running Chinese game that was never released in any other language than Chinese (and shows the strength of the Chinese MMO market by having one of the highest revenues in the genre despite only being officially available in a single country).

Roblox is a strange game that looks like the bastard child of Second Life and Lego. It has over 100M active monthly users, which is more than you get if you add Activision and Blizzard’s active monthly users.

The rest I kinda consider household names by now. You have the two largest MOBAs (LoL and DOTA2), two Blizzard games (WoW and Heartstone), Fortnite (which is just about impossible to not have heard about, unfortunately), and World of Tanks (the largest of the war game-themed vehicle-based quasi-MMOs).

Mewmew
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Mewmew

I’ll tell you what confuses me with this list. And I think it gets you too by what your quote is saying :P

“Fantasy Westward Journey Online II is a long-running Chinese game”

Westward Journey Online II and Fantasy Westward Journey are different titles. Someone is mixing up the titles. There is no Fantasy Westward Journey Online II on PC. There is a mobile sequel, but it doesn’t use II in the title, and wouldn’t be under the PC chart revenue.

For some reason, the PC revenue list lists a title which doesn’t really exist as far as I can tell. There are two different game names of popular online games in China that they’re merging together.

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Schmidt.Capela

Do you know if they share a subscription? If, like WoW and WoW Classic, players can pay a single subscription and play both, Superdata might be adding both together.

It’s awfully hard to get information about those games in any language other than Chinese, though. And (according to Wikipedia) NetEase did the whole “relaunch the exact same MMO but add a 2 to the name” thing with Westward Journey Online II, so I thought they had done the same with Fantasy Westward Journey and the Wikipedia page hadn’t caught on.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Well it is a Worldwide list. You are probably in an area where numerous games on the list were never released.

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styopa

The key for Classic and Blizzard is how sustainable those numbers are.

Clearly, I think, Blizzard was almost entirely surprised at the interest in something they insisted nobody “really” wanted. They took a flyer and built it, and the public came…for now.

Neither the fanbois (who optimistically think it will turn into an entirely new thread of classic tbc, classic wotlk, etc) nor the haters (who still can’t get enough of telling everyone how bad Vanilla really was and insisting this is all just ephemeral) can predict how this will go.

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Rick Mills

True, but money is money.

Yangers
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Yangers

That won’t stop Activision canning it if the money coming in falls off a cliff after a few months.

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Utakata

That’s highly unlikely.

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styopa

I think you misunderstood Rick’s point.
Money is money. If the money keeps flowing, it keeps running.
Logically, if the money ISN’T flowing, then it would be canned.*

*but I will point out that the way Blizzard folded this into their usual sub really makes your suggestion unlikely. It doesn’t cost much to run an MMO that (aside from some bug fixes) is BASED ON BEING STATIC WITHOUT MORE CONTENT. So as long as having Classic in the stable doesn’t actually drive people away, no, I can’t see them shitcanning it even if previous subs continue at 0+0.001%. And if it goes up or down in the future, it’s impossible to tell if it’s Classic that’s dragging it down somehow (it’d be a stretch to suggest more content resulted in less subs), and not some issue with one of the other wide stable of products covered by that monthly fee.

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Utakata

I predicted this would be the most likely outcome despite my misgivings about Vanilla. /shrug

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Dagget Burmese

They likely have a lot of ppl locked in on 3-month sub, will still be playing when Blizzcon comes around, allowing them to crow about numbers. But I expect a huge drop-off by Jan when we will see if they quietly start shaving staff again.

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Utakata

At some point there will likely be a natural drop off of interest, but unlikely to a point anyone is going to sweat about it.

And if DFO (up the top of the list) is any indicator, which has been around since WoW from what I gather…there is still a lot of love for older games. WoW Classic couldn’t have come at a better time.

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styopa

Then again, Blizzard has been in a constant glide-path downward since what, Cata? (barring little ephemeral bumps upward with each expansion release)

So looking at it objectively, Classic could be seen as just another expansion so far: a bump upward in subs on release, with ultimate impact on numbers “to be seen” but I too would forecast that Blizzard’s GENERAL slide will continue. IF (a big if) Classic arrests this at all, its impact will be limited both in scope and duration. The simple fact is that Blizz’s primary product (WoW retail) isn’t pulling in new subs, full stop.

Your point about 3 months subs smells of intended schadenfreude wish-fulfillment. Logically, Blizz sub packages are what, 1month, 3month, 6month, 12month? There’s nothing magical about the 3 month number. Yes, invariably some of the people that subbed for Classic will fall off the list at each of those points.

I personally believe that everyone interested in Classic is playing now. I can’t imagine there’s a big market of people that will want to play classic in the future, that haven’t yet. I don’t know that WoW retail gets that many young subscribers either? I can only imagine a trickle of new Classic subs would be that tiny margin of ‘Classic tourists’ of whom an even smaller niche will enjoy it enough to stay.

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Marty Woods

I am not sure there will be a huge drop off as quickly as some people expect .Classic caters to a PVP audience who enjoy world pvp where as Retail doesn’t really do that with its optional war mode .

Essentially every retail server is a PVE server now days and its kind of telling that people flocked to the PVP classic servers while the PVE ones are less numerous and the ones that do exist tend to be on medium at peak times as opposed to full or high populations on the majority of PVP servers.

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Utakata

Classic does not cater to a PvP audience alone. There are likely as many players (if not even more so) who flocked to it because of it’s PvE content…which it had far more to offer than the PvP. So I am going to wager most players came back to Classic to punch monsters over other players. And the PvP is a secondary thing…even on PvP servers.

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Marty Woods

I think you don’t understand that the player verses environment element is inextricably linked with player vs player on PVP servers . There is always the danger of being attacked by the opposing factions while questing and even if you are trying to make your way to an instanced dungeon . PVP is not a secondary element it is an equal element on PVP servers .

If players had come back to punch monsters alone then its common sense the majority would have created characters on the dedicated PVE servers but that is not the case as the majority have created characters on PVP servers ( you don’t do that if you just want to fight monsters ) . Think about it and I am sure as an intelligent person you will see in undeniable logic of the point I am trying to make .

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Utakata

I think I understand it all too well actually. That is, it really isn’t that linked at all. And I have heard those arguments in support of gankbox MMO’s, lol.

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Roger Melly

But he suggests exactly how its linked and I think he has a great point . I’m playing on the PVP servers for the same reasons because the chance of being attacked and having a skirmish with the Alliance while questing is an integral part of the PVE side of the game .

A gankbox mmo is very different in that usually there are no clearly defined factions which leads to players attacking one another all the time . In the case of WoW if you are attacked while questing you can call for help from your own side and this is what leads to interesting world PVP .

I also notice you didn’t answer the question about the numbers of people creating characters on PVP servers is that an admittance by omission that you think that Marty has a point ?