Official numbers for World of Warcraft: Mists of Panadaria's release week sales have emerged, and they still aren't looking good for the long-term future of Blizzard's wildly successful MMORPG.
Games Industry International reports that 2.7 million copies of World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria were sold during the game's first week on the market, and those sales managed to push the game's subscription count back over 10 million in total. Publisher Activision Blizzard may not be as quick to rule the Mists of Pandaria release a success internally, though, considering the new expansion's first week sales failed to eclipse the opening day sales of Cataclysm or Wrath of the Lich King.
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Over the weekend, the first predictions for Mists of Pandaria's release week sales began to emerge. Lazard Capital Markets' Atul Bagga predicted that the game would drastically underperform when compared to Cataclysm, citing the game's 600-700 thousand copies sold after three days on the market; however, others disagreed. Most prominently, Carrett & Co's Brean Murray pointed to Diablo 3's strong digital sales as an indicator that the bulk of Mists of Pandaria buyers might have preferred downloading the expansion over a brick-and-mortar retail purchase.
While the two most prominent predictions outlined fairly different bills of health for the title, surprisingly, neither predicted the game would outsell its predecessor World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. Few observers predicted that the game would fail to outsell 2008's 'Wrath of the Lich King' as well, and it seems unlikely that anyone expected Pandaria to get a slower start than World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. Unfortunately for Blizzard, that's exactly what happened; even if the company's co-founder doesn't want to discuss it publicly.
The company's subscriptions numbers are up, for a change, and World of Warcraft can once against proudly claim more than 10 million active subscribers thanks to the Mists of Pandaria release. This is also one of the only cases in gaming in which nearly 3 million in opening week sales could be looked at in a negative light. Even in the worst case of scenarios, meaning every use paid the lowest rate possible (through annual memberships), that still guarantees Activision Blizzard more than $120 million in subscription fees every month.
Needless to say, the company won't be announcing the game's cancellation or entry into the free-to-play market anytime soon; but, for the first time, World of Warcraft doesn't seem as likely to get deep into double-digit expansion territory as it used to.