Blizzard Sells 2.4 Million Copies of WoW Expansion… But Does It Expand the Audience?

What a great day for Blizzard, selling 2.4 million copies of the WoW Expansion upon opening – but I can’t help but wonder if we’re nearing the beginning of the end. Blizzard broke North American sales records and released the highest selling PC game in history. Good news for Blizzard, but can they maintain players on such a leisurely update schedule, let alone grow their expanding audience?
World of Warcraft, the best-selling MMOG ever, released its first expansion, The Burning Crusade, on January 16th to crowds of gamers around the world. Currently, the game has over 8 million active subscribers worldwide. In North America, 1.2 million copies were sold in the first day and Europe accounted for another 1.1 million. Blizzard is fairly pleased with these numbers.
But the biggest question now is, “How long will this last?” A French player hit the new level cap of 70 (the highest you can reach) within hours last week. Several people that I know personally have already reached the level cap as well. Now, of course, there are new dungeons and places to explore, but this expansion was a long time in the making.
World of Warcraft launched in November of 2004 and has just released its first expansion pack, which is crazy in terms of other game’s progression. In the months leading up to the release of The Burning Crusade, many of the hardcore players took extended breaks or just quit altogether. The real test of a game like WoW, which has set records left and right, is if it can keep going at this pace.
The only real additions to the game, other than the new areas and two new races (not classes) is jewelcrafting. After two years, two new races and jewelcrafting. Will the couple hundred hours it takes to master the dungeons keep hardcore players, who have hung in there for over two years, playing? Will this expansion manage to grow the audience? As a WoW player who waited through the dry times, I’m sketpical – but only time and hard numbers can really tell.