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Did Legion boost World of Warcraft’s subscriber numbers over 10 million?

Despite reports from an interview, Blizzard won't confirm a huge comeback for its MMO


Earlier today, a surprising report about World of Warcraft hit the internet. According to an interview with Polish gaming magazine Pixel (as reported and translated by a poster on the NeoGAF forums), Blizzard’s MMO has shot back past 10 million subscribers following the launch of its latest expansion, Legion.

This would be a massive bounce-back for the game. Just under a year ago, in November 2015, Blizzard reported that World of Warcraft subscription numbers had dropped to 5.5 million and that the company would no longer be providing subscriber numbers.

In the Pixel interview, World of Warcraft game designer Tom Chilton supposedly revealed for the first time that Legion has boosted subscriptions to 10.1 million. Here’s the quote, as translated by NeoGAF user Lashman:

"Currently, [our subscriber number] is around 10.1 million. You know, it’s difficult to say what the future will bring. We have an internal competitor, Overwatch, but it’s possible it’ll get even higher than 12 million. There are plenty of potential takers and there are over 100 million World of Warcraft accounts."

Great news, right? Except apparently it’s not a legitimate number.

Polygon reached out to Blizzard directly this afternoon to confirm the number, and the publisher revealed that it "was a misquote or some kind of misunderstanding on the part of the journalist." Blizzard neither confirmed nor denied whether 10.1 million is the actual subscriber number at the moment but simply reiterated that it’s not planning to provide subscriber numbers any more.

"Our policy for almost a year now is that we do not talk about subscriber numbers, and Tom did not do that with this publication," a Blizzard representative told Polygon.

While Blizzard won’t talk specifics on subscriber numbers, it did share some impressive stats last month to boast about Legion’s launch. At the time, Blizzard said the expansion had sold 3.3 million copies by launch day, tying it with the franchise record set by 2010’s Catacylsm expansion. The company also said that it had reached a number of concurrent users logged on that it had not seen since the Cataclysm days.

It was around the time of Cataclysm’s release that World of Warcraft hit its all-time high of over 12 million subscribers, so in that sense it’s not unbelievable that the game could be back above 10 million. But that would still be an incredible amount of growth in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, unless Blizzard changes its stance on providing numbers, this all remains pure speculation.

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