How many people play World of Warcraft? — 2022 statistics
November 23, 2004
A veteran in online gaming, World of Warcraft was first released in 2004 on PC. A platform the game stayed faithful to, even after 17 years of service. World of Warcraft is an MMORPG (massively-multiplayer online role-playing game) set in an open world where the players can decide to campaign solo or with other comrades.
World of Warcraft is part of the Warcraft universe created by Blizzard and therefore, will invite the player to explore the lands of Azeroth. The story is accessible even to the crowds of first-timers in the Warcraft universe. As Thrall’s Horde starts to expand, the races part of the Alliance renews their loyalty. After the mysterious disappearance of Stormwind’s King, Bolvar Fordragon replaced the Regent on the throne. Unfortunately, the man ends up under the influence of the black dragon Onyxia, disguised as a woman. The heroes of the Alliance and the Horde will have to not only expose Onyxia, but also fight Ragnaros, the ancient Elemental Lord, and his nefarious plans.
World of Warcraft has seen the release of eight different expansions throughout the years, all bringing their share of changes to the gameplay and core mechanics and a new story. Like any good MMORPG out there, the player controls an avatar that allows them to partake in the usual RPG-like activities: exploring, fighting, completing quests, and interacting with other players and NPCs. Servers are referred to as ‘realms’ and come with two modes: “Normal” lets you play normally and “RP” is targeted at people who just want to have fun role-playing as their character. The game also allows PvP, but the decision is up to the player, as the option to deactivate this mode exists. It is possible to have a character in each realm or to move an existing character to another realm, in exchange for a certain fee. Leveling up improves your character’s stats and skills, but you can also choose up to two different professions and, of course, join a guild.
Now, let’s dive into the most significant World of Warcraft statistics and facts. Plus, if you like learning new things about the world of gaming, check out our article about video games industry statistics!
World of Warcraft user stats
Back then, when players would say that they were really into “that MMORPG”, there was a good chance that they were referring to either Dofus or World of Warcraft. It was all the rage, and even people who only had a slight interest in video games felt the need to try it. World of Warcraft brought a new sense of community to gaming and the near-perfect fantasy world Blizzard was offering to explore only added to the adventure.
1. World of Warcraft has more male players (58.53%) than female players (36.31%).
(Source: SAS Global Forum)
Females rather play a female character (93.12%), whereas males play male characters to a lesser extent (65.73%).
The average age of a World of Warcraft player is 31.90 years old. Participants were aged 18 to 90.
50-57 year olds spend a bigger chunk of time playing World of Warcraft (70.39%) than other groups. This age group also has the highest number of max-level Alliance characters (4.39%).
People over 58 spend the smallest amount of gaming time playing World of Warcraft (62.97%) and they also have the smallest amount of max-level Alliance characters (2.65%).
The aim of that study was to see how players would behave in World of Warcraft. Not only did it establish that the player base in the game is more mature, but also that men were pretty open to using a female character to represent them. This is not a new phenomenon, and it even has a name: G.I.RL. or Guy In Real Life. In fact, throughout the years, several complaints have arisen from the community about men going for sexier characters. Fooling people during roleplay, fooling other men into sending gifts, and killing the diversity in races since most will go for the curviest ladies. But all in all, people tend to stick to their real gender, even if we can see that female characters are quite popular. By the way, in another study conducted in 2005, the ratio of males to females was 84% to 16% and the average player’s age was 28!
2. The number of subscribers reached its peak in October 2010, when World of Warcraft boasted 12 million subscribers.
(Source: Techland Time)
By August 2011, the figure was lower, reaching 11 million subscribers. And by November of the same year, it was down to 10 million.
By March 2005, the game was available in South Korea, North America, and Europe and had 1.5 million subscribers. After China joined in June, World of Warcraft hit 2 million subscribers and then 3.5 million in July. At the end of 2005, World of Warcraft had reached 5 million subscribers!
By May 2013, the game recorded 8 million subscribers, with a loss of 14% of its players over the three months preceding the release of this information. In 2015, the title was drastically down to 5.5 million subscribers.
In 2021, it was estimated that the number of subscribers could be around 4.74 million. After reaching 5 million subscribers, Blizzard decided to stop sharing the figure each year.
After 17 years in the industry, World of Warcraft might have lost its steam, but certainly not its shine. The game still has millions of subscribers, players coming and going, some returning only for the expansions before leaving after a month or two. Way less than before, sure, but they have actually millions of people playing regularly. And in this age of battle royales, MOBAs, and mobile gaming, it has somehow survived through all the changes the multiplayer online scene went through. And the game has seen several updates, showing that Blizzard was still caring about bringing the best new features to their player base. However, it is worth noting that a lot of that ‘lost’ player base is from the East, and mostly from China (the biggest market a video game company would want to have). Indeed, Blizzard has failed to create content presenting an appeal to that demographic, which, with time, went back to more local games and other genres internationally. Add to that the hyper-competitivity we now see in multiplayer and the fact that World of Warcraft is strictly a PC game, and you can understand the slow decline of that legend.
3. MMO-Population estimates that World of Warcraft sees a little over 1 million daily active users.
The average number of monthly active users oscillates between 4 million-5 million. It reached 6 million after the release of the Shadowlands expansion in 2020, but only for a few months.
In 2017, the game had around 9-10 million monthly active users.
The highest number of players in a day is between 400,000-600,000.
In 2021 Q2, when Activision Blizzard announced that Blizzard lost 20 million monthly active users in a matter of four years, people were quite shocked. Sure, it does not leave them in a bad place (going from 46 million to 26 million), but it is still quite the gap across only four years. Now, do not think that World of Warcraft makes up the majority of this number: for reference, Blizzard said that Hearthstone and Overwatch were their games with the highest number of monthly/daily active users. Even the latest expansions failed to bring more people on board when it is usually the case. But with quite a number of RPG aficionados turning towards Final Fantasy XIV and Genshin Impact, it will be difficult for World of Warcraft to keep its player base intact. Even big content creators moved to Square Enix’s MMORPG, taking their fans with them. Fortunately, some remain loyal to Blizzard and actually play both games.
World of Warcraft key stats
With such success, everyone is a bit curious about topics focused on revenues, profits, the number of downloads, and more information around the game itself.
4. At its peak, World of Warcraft was making $180 million per month and $2.15 billion per year from subscriptions alone.
In 2016, World of Warcraft’s lifetime revenue was estimated to be over $9.23 billion. However, Activision Blizzard has not provided an update since then.
After being the first MMO to introduce virtual pets, Blizzard generated $1.1 million from the Pandaren Monk pet on behalf of the Make-A-Wish foundation in 2010. In 2011, Blizzard continued with donations originating from the pet sales: $800,000 to the Make-A-Wish foundation and $1.1 million for Japan after the Tohoku earthquake/tsunami natural disaster.
Blizzard has always been quite secretive with its revenue and profit. Therefore, except from calculating directly how much they are making based on the number of subscribers and the price of a subscription, it is difficult to assess the proper number. Plus, subscriptions come in different packages, and you also have to think about revenue coming from the expansions and the merchandising. In 019, a vanilla version of the main game was released, World of Warcraft Classic, allowing players to play the “vintage” version of the title, before all the updates and expansions. Coupled with the release of the Diablo II remake, it must have brought new (or old) users. Even more so when we can see that Blizzard released a classic version of the first expansion. It might mean that they intend to do so with the seven left. Anyway, Blizzard making it a point not to communicate their numbers at all is worrisome.
5. When it was released, World of Warcraft became the fastest-selling game on PC with 240,000 copies sold in 24 hours.
The first expansion, Burning Crusade, released in 2007, sold 2.4 million copies in 24 hours. A total of 3.5 million copies were sold during the first month.
Then in 2008, the second one, Wrath of the Lich King, broke that record by selling 2.8 million in 24 hours.
In 2010, Cataclysm sold 3.3 million copies in 24 hours. After a month, that number went up to 4.7 million.
The fourth expansion, Mists of Pandaria, released in 2012, sold 2.7 million copies within a week.
The expansion Warlords of Draenor released in 2014 sold 3.3 million copies in 24 hours. The same number was achieved over the same period of time by Legion, which launched in 2016.
Battle of Azeroth, which was released in 2018, sold 3.4 million copies in 24 hours. The last expansion, Shadowlands, was released in 2020 and sold 3.7 million copies in 24 hours, breaking all other records established by World of Warcraft.
Funnily enough, World of Warcraft has been breaking its own records year after year. All the expansions received fantastic scores in specialized media and good reviews from players. But even that did not stop the inevitable from happening. Following the release of Warlords of Draenor (a few months later), the number of subscribers plummeted so badly that it was then and there that Blizzard announced that they would not report the number of subscribers. Blizzard has not announced a new expansion since 2020, and it might be that it will not happen for a while since it looks like they will do so two years before release. That would not be a good idea, though, if Activision Blizzard really wants to retain its player base, considering all the options players have these days.
World of Warcraft usage stats
Time to take a closer look at how the community consumes the game. After 17 years, and the number of subscribers continuously decreasing, it might be interesting to see how World of Warcraft is doing, but on the consumers’ side. But also, why not, what the players like to use in terms of class and race.
6. The country with the largest player base in World of Warcraft is the United States with 22.54%.
(Source: Player Counter)
Russia is #2 with 9.58% and is followed by Germany as #3 with 8.81%.
The rest of the Top 5 is rounded off by France (5.55%) and Great Britain (4.94%).
In 2018, Nordic countries came on top, with Sweden snatching the first spot (19.6%) and Norway following closely (18.8%). Ranking third, we find Denmark (18.4%).
Scandinavia was actually where the most fervent communities could be found in 2018, which is something that no one saw coming. Around this time, World of Warcraft was already in that low period where it would rise and decline but mostly decline. That is also why there is no China: at this point, the country had already turned a new page and moved on to something else. And as said before, Blizzard did not actually create content that would speak to that side of the world (pandas do not count). In addition, because of all the laws and restrictions coming from the Chinese government, players were always behind in terms of updates and expansions. The United States got its place as the number one.
7. In 2019, the Hunter class was the favorite in both the EU and U.S. realms with 10.5% and 11.3% (respectively).
It is followed by the Paladin (9.5% & 9.7%) and the Druid (9.9% & 9.7%).
The Warrior has the fourth position with 9.9% and 9.5%. The Mage was the fifth most appreciated class (8.9% & 8.8%).
In 2020, an infographic by a Redditor, using a sample of 300,000 characters, updated the trends based on the side chosen. In the Alliance, the Night Elf was the favorite of over 35,000 players and around 17,000 of them went for the Druid class.
The human was the second most chosen race with between 34,000-35,000 players and the second most liked class was the Hunter with around 16,000 players.
In the Horde, the Blood Elf literally crushes the other classes as the most preferred race with 60,000 players. The favorite class is the Hunter, with a number of players around 17,000.
The Troll is the second most coveted race with between18,000-19,000 players. The second most appreciated class in the Horde is the Mage with around 16,000 players.
Classes offering support and distance seem to be really liked in the game, since they are pretty much at the top, whether in 2018 or 2020. The Hunter stays as an all-time favorite: not only is the class perfect for beginners, but their role is also clearly defined. A Hunter is here to provide long-ranged attacks. The class is also much loved for its survivability when soloing and the depth in skills once the player is more used to the game. Plus, it has crowd control. Fun fact: a lot of players are irritated by the high number of Blood Elves and Night Elves, as those are mostly chosen by male players because of aesthetics and not skills or good stats. This means that even if it is not in the infographics, most of them must be female.
8. World of Warcraft is ranked #18 on Twitch.
Over 7 days: the average number of viewers is 31,732, the average number of channels streaming the game is 1,099, the average number of viewers/channel is 28.9 and the number of hours watched is 5,341,516.
The highest number of concurrent viewers was 1,135,186 in August 2019 and the highest number of channels streaming was 25,786 in November 2020.
On average, there are 40,407 viewers and 1,400 active channels.
The game is streamed by 6% fewer channels during the weekend, and there are 2% fewer viewers.
Objectively, it is not bad at all. More than anything, when looking at such statistics, one has to remember that we are dealing with a 17-years-old game here. Not only is it in the top 20 of games streamed on Twitch, when the audience seems pretty steady. Millions of hours watched in just a week is far from being just an average game in the streaming landscape. World of Warcraft adapted itself to the streaming format (well, more like the player base).
World of Warcraft esports
You might have thought that it was not possible considering the game’s format, but Blizzard added an arena in one of the expansions. The Arena allows two teams of 2, 3, or 5 players to fight each other, which is a well-controlled way to let players more into PvP to indulge in that mode, rather than go around killing innocent players. World of Warcraft is pretty modest when it comes to audience and prize money, but it is nonetheless established on the eSports scene.
9. The biggest prize pool in a tournament reached a total of $300,000.
(Source: eSports Earnings)
It was the prize money for two tournaments: Arena World Championship 2019 & 2021.
The grand total of prize money awarded amounts to $6,976,337.61 from 164 tournaments.
That is where you see what was meant by “modest”. The international championship’s prize pool does not even reach $500,000. However, the total amount shows that there are a lot of tournaments organized out there. That can also be seen through the viewership during broadcasted events: they usually range between 20,000-40,000 viewers. Those numbers are pretty consistent, and that means that the fanbase is pretty loyal to World of Warcraft eSports. It might not be big, but it will live through that loyalty and steady consumption. Of note, is also the fact that most of those tournaments are held offline, with 72% of the prize money originating from those.
10. The player with the highest earnings is Swapxy with $203,474 (Germany).
(Source: eSports Earnings)
Snutz is #2 with a total of $194,241 (Canada). He is followed by Fabss with $145,387 (Italy).
Whaazz is #4 with $138,875 (Switzerland) while #5, Chanimal, shows a total of $133,345 (Australia).
World of Warcraft is certainly one of the most diverse eSports scenes. It is not often that we can see so many nationalities, just in the top 5. The rest of the ranking is as colorful. Of course, American players are part of it, but we also find people from France, Scandinavian players and even Slovakia at the 13th spot. Europe is a big provider of professional players.
11. The United States dominates the circuit with its $2,058,820, making it the country with the highest sum of money awarded.
(Source: eSports Earnings)
Germany is second with $631,821 and Sweden is third with $568,831.
Canada ($494,975) and Great Britain ($419,013) managed to occupy the last two spots in that Top 5.
The gap between the US and the rest of the ranking is exponentially huge, which means that they must be holding quite the number of offline competitions there. This also means that the country is the most active when it comes to eSports. The other countries are also organizing offline tournaments, as the earnings of some players originate exclusively from those. In fact, it looks like World of Warcraft as a sport is better appreciated offline/LAN.
To sum up
Whatever will happen in the future and how it might end up for World of Warcraft, no one can deny the fact that the game has entered video game history. And not for a short either as, 17 years later, it is still, as well as a game that old could be and still being talked about and taken care of. Few MMO games can brag about such longevity. And we cannot throw the stone at Blizzard under the pretense that they did not take care of their game: it would have been quite the feat if the title had resisted and surpassed the likes of Final Fantasy XIV or Genshin Impact. Final Fantasy XIV was released in 2010 and has only started living its best years.
However, not everything is not perfect. Players have been complaining lately, and the Shadowlands was already under fire before the first patch was released. Add to that the fact that some games have been in the waiting lanes for now what seems to be centuries and the controversies the company has been under regarding the toxic workplace, the discrimination, and the sexual harassment, Activision Blizzard sure has a lot on their plate. In fact, those allegations even pushed players to boycott their games in support of the developers.
The studio announced today that they were working on a new open-world survival game, which prompted the question: which team is on it, considering that they still have games to deliver? That and the fact that they are in the middle of a tempest with people leaving or getting fired. Right now, we can only wait, but Microsoft’s intention to buy the company, the fact that they are more known for seeking IPs rather than creating them, and we already see them pushing unions away are not good signs.
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