Blizzard has to be wondering why it didn’t take steps sooner when the community began asking for World of Warcraft Classic several years ago. If anything, the current landscape helps as a stern and friendly reminder that it’s always a good thing to hear out your consumers at the end of the day.
During an earnings call for the third quarter of the fiscal year, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick announced that World of Warcraft Classic helped bring “millions of players back” to Azeroth. The faithful recreation of the golden (original) era drove the biggest quarterly increase to subscription plans in the history of the franchise, in both the West and East.
While Kotick refrained from quoting any actual figures and statistics, he did point out that the overall reach in October 2019 remained well above those before World of Warcraft Classic. In addition, player-engagement was at peak across both the classic and modern modes of the online game. When combined, the factors helped Blizzard observe a significant growth in the player-base.
World of Warcraft Classic is free and part of the overall package, meaning that players pay the same subscription fee to have access. The mode, which runs the game like it was before the launch of any expansions — old-school, is being rolled out in different phases. The first phase went live in late August 2019 and more planned into the next year. Blizzard hasn’t been sharing statistics for several years now, something that was attributed to how the player-base was declining with each expansion. You can only hope that Blizzard comes around in the wake of such a monumental increase.
Just to grasp the amount of popularity, over 33 million hours of World of Warcraft Classic were watched on Twitch in the week after launch. The only other game that managed a greater viewership on Twitch during the same period was Dota 2, which raked in over 34 million hours watched due to The International.
Suffice to say, World of Warcraft Classic has seen an excellent reception. In fact, even Blizzard miscalculated in this regard. There was such a high demand at launch that the developer had to open up five new servers to ease the load off the other servers. Players were even being requested to join the new servers because everyone was still trying to get into the old ones.
While the community waits for some PvP features to be added to World of Warcraft Classic, the hype train for Shadowlands has already begun. The next expansion will be taking players into the realm of the dead with an overhauled leveling system, access to the Death Knight class for the races that didn’t previously have, new dungeons and raids, Covenants in the new zones, and improvements based on feedback obtained from the last Battle for Azeroth expansion.