Analyst: Microtransactions could be a boon for WoW

With Blizzard exploring the possibility of a switch to free-to-play for World of Warcraft, digital goods analytics firm Superdata says the move could be good for Blizzard -- and its playerbase.
Blizzard has acknowledged that it is exploring the possibility of introducing microtransactions to World of Warcraft. According to digital goods analytics firm Superdata, that might be just what the company needs to keep the game going. As reported in its most recent earnings call, WoW has been losing subscribers at a rate of about 200,000 a month, with roughly equal attrition rates in both Eastern and Western markets. As of June, subscriptions stood at 7.7 million worldwide -- and according to Superdata, it gets worse from there. "We believe WoW made $93 million in April [2013] in total revenues -- not a bad sum -- but a far cry from the $204 million it made just seven months earlier," says Superdata, noting this represents a whopping 54 percent drop in revenue. "Activision also announced a loss of about 1.3 million monthly active users from the game's Eastern-hemisphere playerbase recently." Thus, while in previous years World of Warcraft might have needed to draw more than half the available market to sustain itself on a free-to-play model, in 2013 Superdata suggests the factors to prompt such a switch are "starting to stack up." "In a market where players are increasingly used to -- and spending money on -- in-game items, the lack of microtransactions [in WoW] beyond pets and mounts looks like it's starting to hurt," says Superdata. The report continues:

"Despite major declines in total revenues between September 2012 and April 2013, the game has seen an increasing conversion rate for the its current, add-on, extra-game store, and its microtransaction revenues have held pat overall. What it tells us is that dedicated WoW players are interested in -- and will spend money on -- microtransactions."
You can read the entire writeup from Superdata here.

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