Blizzard Entertainment announced today that World of Warcraft, its subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), is now played by more than 9 million gamers around the world.
That’s half a million more than the number of monthly players WoW had back in March five months ago. And all this before the release of the World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade expansion pack in mainland China, which Blizzard expects to give a huge increase in gold farmers, no wait they didn’t say that, they said an increase in new and returning subscribers.
It’s interesting to note that if the World of Warcraft were a nation, CIA’s World Factbook says that out of 236 listed countries it would be the 90th most populated country on Earth above Haiti, but behind Sweden.
“We’re thrilled that gamers around the world have continued to embrace World of Warcraft so enthusiastically,” said Mike Morhaime, president and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’ve worked hard to provide a compelling experience for our players, and we plan to continue updating the game with exciting new content for them to enjoy for many years to come.”
Since debuting in North America on November 23rd, 2004, World of Warcraft has become the most popular MMORPG around the world. It was the bestselling PC game of 2005 and 2006 and has remained at or near the top of the weekly PC-game sales charts for much of 2007 as well. Blizzard’s Burning Crusade expansion released to critical acclaim in several regions earlier this year and shattered PC-game sales records in North America and Europe, with nearly 2.4 million copies sold in its first 24 hours of release and approximately 3.5 million in its first month. World of Warcraft is available in seven different languages and, in addition to North America and Europe, is played in mainland China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.
Update: Commenters were asking if the 9 million subscribers were for all-time or the past month, the answer is the past month. Blizzard‘s World of Warcraft Subscriber Definition reads:
“World of Warcraft subscribers include individuals who have paid a subscription fee or have an active prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access. Internet Game Room players who have accessed the game over the last thirty days are also counted as subscribers. The above definition excludes all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or cancelled subscriptions, and expired prepaid cards. Subscribers in licenseesâ€™ territories are defined along the same rules.”