15 Facts About The WoW Player Count in 2023
Updated · Mar 06, 2023
When did WoW get popular?
Way back in 2004—yeah, World of Warcraft is that old, and it’s still one of the most popular video games around the globe.
Unlike most other games that just appear, become a big hit, and then quickly disappear from people’s minds, WoW remains in the hearts of gamers.
Granted, the World of Warcraft player count tends to wax and wane every now and then, but the core fan base remains loyal.
Today, we’ll address not only the current WoW player count, but also other interesting facts about the people who play this video game and the company who made it.
Essential WoW Player Count Stats (Editor’s Choice)
- In Q2 2017, World of Warcraft reached 46 million monthly active users thanks to the Legion expansion.
- By 2021, the MAU count had dropped to 26 million.
- As of 2022, around 4.8 million people subscribe to World of Warcraft.
- There are at least 34,000 WoW active players at any given moment.
- People in the US account for 23% of the game’s user base.
- The average World of Warcraft player is a 28-year-old man.
- Activision/Blizzard made around $9 billion in net revenue in 2021.
World of Warcraft is Blizzard’s brainchild, which is one of the most successful video game companies in the world.
Since it came out, the game has seen many expansions and updates, the latest ones being Battle of Azeroth (2018), World of Warcraft Classic (2019), Shadowlands (2020), and The Burning Crusade Classic (2021).
This is one of the main reasons why WoW got so popular—it constantly gets updates and improvements.
That said, players don’t receive all expansions with equal enthusiasm.
1. The first version of WoW was released on July 16, 2004.
Some of them, like Mists of Pandaria, were straight-out flops, whereas others, like The Burning Crusade, were extremely successful—so much so that Blizzard decided to polish it up in 2021 and issue it as a new expansion. But we’ll cover the most successful expansions further down the article.
The point is that their mere existence is proof that World of Warcraft is not dying. Each expansion is incredibly expensive to make, and if no one was interested in playing the game anymore, Blizzard simply wouldn’t bother with them.
If you’re still not convinced, let’s go over World of Warcraft’s player count.
2. Six million people play WoW live on an average monthly basis.
This stat gives us a good idea of the number of people who immerse themselves in Blizzard’s universe, whether they play all the time, a few times per week, or once or twice per month.
As for the daily player count, it’s been around one million since late 2021. There was a spike during the summer, probably due to The Burning Crusade Classic coming out in June 2021. Back in July, nearly three million people were playing WoW every day.
And although the number of daily players quickly came down, World of Warcraft’s peak player count didn’t fall below 535,000 at any point in 2021.
3. Since it came out, 116,784,679 have played WoW at some point.
WoW isn’t a typical game that you play for a while and then it’s finished. It’s also not like most multiplayer games where things get repetitive after a while (think Call of Duty, PUBG, etc.). WoW is so big that you can play it for years and still be surprised—which is why many players come back to it after they’ve stopped playing for a while.
So, the 116 million in question are perhaps the most liberal estimation of World of Warcraft’s player count, but they also prove that WoW is still drawing people’s interest.
According to stats, 2017 started out with a cumulative subscriber count of 20 million. Now, if we go over the WoW subscription numbers year by year, we can see that the count doubled by the end of 2018 (48 million), then it reached 67 million in 2019, and it finally surpassed the 100 million subscribers mark in November 2020.
As you probably guessed, the pandemic had something to do with this spike.
4. The WoW active population is less than five million.
The last time Blizzard gave official figures was in 2015. Back then, the official active subscriber count was at 5.6 million. Projections suggest that the number of active players should have fallen to around 4.6 million by 2022, though it’s hard to say for sure how accurate the estimates proved to be.
As you probably know, there are game servers people use to host WoW sessions. Some of these servers don’t necessarily require players to have licenses, which means the number of actual players is probably higher than what this stat suggests.
All in all, we should probably take the WoW player count with a pinch of salt.
5. Shadowlands sold 3.7 million copies on its first day.
If we determine an expansion’s success based on its debut sales, then Shadowlands (2020) is the most successful one by far.
Cataclysm (2010) follows behind with 3.3 million copies sold the day of its release. For comparison, The Burning Crusade (2007) and Mists of Pandaria (2012) sold 2.4 million and 2.7 million copies, respectively, during the initial craze.
WoW is such a complex and diverse game that millions of people around the world dedicate a lot of time into it. In fact, there are those who believe that World of Warcraft is too addictive, but that’s neither here nor there.
There are countless websites with tons of information on WoW lore, and that’s because people don’t simply play WoW like today’s kids play Fortnite. The WoW player base has always been rather hardcore.
6. The average WoW player is 28 years old.
Perhaps this isn’t one of the most surprising WoW facts, given that World of Warcraft is both fairly old and one of the most complex games ever. So, it’s perfectly understandable that the game’s target audience isn’t teenagers.
What is arguably more interesting, though, is that female players are older (32.5 years old, on average) than their male counterparts.
7. 84% of World of Warcraft players are male.
It’s not like this came as a surprise, either. Even if video games stopped being a strictly male hobby long ago, the gender discrepancy remains—especially when it comes to games like WoW.
The truth is that cases of gender discrimination and sexual harrassment have hounded the gaming industry for years, and Blizzard is no stranger to these types of scandals.
8. Humans and night-elves are the most popular races in WoW.
Both races are tied, with 23% of WoW subscribers choosing them as avatars.
In terms of popularity, afterwards come the undead (14%), the tauren (10%), and the dwarves (9%). That leaves the trolls (7%) and gnomes (7%) as the least popular creatures in WoW.
9. An average player spends 22.7 hours per week in the WoW universe.
There are, of course, many current WoW players who only occasionally engage in the game, and many others who play much more than that. However, people spend more time playing WoW than at a part-time job, which is pretty impressive even by the industry’s standards.
Generally speaking, people spend around 8.45 hours per week playing video games (including those that they play on their phones). So, you could say WoW is 2.5 times more “addictive” than the average video game.
10. 36.7% of psychiatrists believe WoW players have bad mental health.
Just to clarify, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all the people who play WoW indeed have bad mental health, but it points towards an interesting direction.
World of Warcraft, being a whole universe on its own, is perhaps the best video game to play if you want to forget about reality. So, naturally, we’ll see some people engaging in this game more than they should. However, we can’t be sure whether WoW directly reduces mental health, or if people who are depressed, anxious, and withdrawn simply choose to play WoW.
11. Around 3% of all World of Warcraft players develop an addiction to this game.
Just to clarify, there’s a difference between “addicted” and “highly-engaged” players. Most people who play WoW are highly engaged, and it’s only a very small percentage that develops an actual addiction.
For something to become an addiction, it has to meet certain criteria. For example, you’d have to develop an abstinence syndrome, tolerate a drug or compulsive behavior (gaming, gambling), and experience significant dysfunction in all spheres of life.
World of Warcraft isn’t Blizzard’s only commercial hit. The company is also behind games like Starcraft, Overwatch, and Diablo. So, it has done pretty well for itself.
And since it merged with Activision, Blizzard has only strengthened its position in the market.
Let’s go over some financial stats.
12. In 2021, Activision/Blizzard’s net revenue amounted to $9 billion.
This means that the company generated $1 billion more than in 2020. And since 76% of that total (which is around $6 billion) was because of three games alone—Call of Duty, Candy Crush, and WoW—we’d venture to say World of Warcraft is still popular in 2022.
For comparison, the revenues of other successful video game developers, like EA and Ubisoft, don’t even come close to that of Activision/Blizzard. In 2021, EA made $5.6 billion whereas Ubisoft generated $2.6 billion.
13. Each year, Activision/Blizzard makes around $87 million from WoW subscription sales.
The standard WoW subscription costs around $15. In other words, based on this stat alone, it’s obvious that there are many people who still relish Blizzard’s fantasy universe.
So, is WoW on the decline?
Perhaps the game isn’t as popular as it once was, but it’s still earning millions for its parent company.
14. By 2017, WoW had generated close to $10 billion for Activision/Blizzard.
Being a subscription game, it’s only natural that it generates much more money than the average video game which only charges you once.
The only other games that surpassed WoW’s revenue back then were Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Street Fighter 2—each of them had amassed between $10.61 billion and $14 billion by 2016.
15. Activision/Blizzard’s market cap fell around $50 billion in early 2022.
(Source: Companies Market Cap)
The company’s market cap reached an all-time high ($80 billion) in February 2021, only to plunge down to $45 billion nine months later.
Activision/Blizzard managed to improve its numbers a little in December 2021, closing the year with a $51 billion market cap.
We’ve seen there are many factors that affect WoW player count, like the pandemic, all the new expansions, esports competitions, and, of course, the passage of time.
While many may think that WoW is dying, after all the stats above, we’d say World of Warcraft is alive and kicking. Sure, it’s not as popular as it was before, but it’s still doing pretty good considering it’s been around for more than 15 years, wouldn’t you say?
All in all, the World of Warcraft craze may have ended, but WoW’s days are far from numbered.
Unaware that life beyond the internet exists, Nick is poking servers and control panels, playing with WordPress add-ons, and helping people get the hosting that suits them.