back to article World of Warcraft upkeep costs only $200m

Blizzard Entertainment is indisputably making money hand-over-fist with its massively popular online RPG, World of Warcraft. But surely maintaining a game with some 10 million active subscribers worldwide takes a serious bite out of profits? Not so, according to Blizzard on its Analyst Day conference call on Tuesday. The …


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  1. wsm

    Captain Kirk expensed?

    I wonder if that upkeep figure includes the advertising featuring William Shatner. If not, you could subtract another few dollars for the initial appearance and the repeat royalties. Still, you are right--I am in the wrong racket, bracket, et. al.

  2. Marc

    But Wait There's More...

    Those profit figures as stated only cover subscriptions. There is also the initial cost of the game which covers the first 30 days of game time. This comes in at US$19.99 per user. Next we have the first Expansion Pack which presumably the majority of players own. This comes in at US$27.99 These prices are based off today Prices where higher then this closer to the original release date.

    All in all it's one hell of a racket they have going.

  3. Dex
    Black Helicopters

    The state of humanity

    as shown by WoW players, don't get me wrong i've got nothing against people wasting thier lives but for the love of all that is gaming pick a decent game!

    an FPS for anger management

    an RTS for the world dominator within

    A game you subscribe to for those with more money than sense it seems

    Heli icon for the helicopter support i called in via Call of Duty 4

  4. Lupus


    I'm too used to Wowhead links, I caught myself hovering over the diamond's text waiting for the pop-up.

    Still, this comes as a surprising revelation. only $200m total, which is apparently only worth about a hundred quid.

    Any chance of a Warcrack icon?

  5. mathieu Nouzareth

    Wrong metrics


    WoW does not have 10 millions subscribers, they have 10 millions ACCOUNTS. Don't be fooled by the PR guy at Blizzard.

    Big difference, especially since in China you do not subscribe to WoW, you just pay by the hour. and since game time is limited by the gvt, many people have several ACCOUNTS... The tru number of *people* playing WoW is close to 5-7 M

  6. Lars
    Paris Hilton

    No expenced. No support

    No wonder the game has basicly no support and does nothing to enforce its own rules. Would raise its expences and cut its profits.

    But as always the masses loves the lower quality crap that the media tells them is great. Its BIG so it MUST be good.... like the plauge it too was great and sooo many people got into it....

    Paris? cause she too proberbly loves World of warcraft Online yadayadaexpansionnameandsoforth

  7. Rodolfo

    GG for investigative journalism

    Only a fraction of those 10m customers pay a subscription, and that number is roughly 4.5 million, the remaining we already know they pay 66m USD in total (leaving aside the rest of Asia-Pac for a second). Diggin out the number of users (2m in EU and 2.5m in NA) adding their subscription* price and discounting it by 75% we end up with 738m USD in revenues per year (minus the rest of Asia-Pac)

    * some pay with a game card

    Green icon because we require more vespene gas

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    So what?

    I can't stand WoW, I think it's a load of old tosh for saddos with no life, but it's a business not a charity. They can charge $100 a month if they like, if mugs are willing to pay it, good luck to 'em! If you don't the price, don't use the product and don't pay for it!

  9. Pete
    Thumb Down

    Those figures need adjusting

    Your not including the fee's for name changes, server transfers the boxed version's of the original and The Burning Crusade games.

    You would think though that for all the cash they are making, they would at least have decent servers not placed in France and going via Telia (the horrors those two things make).

    Wonder how much money they will make if they manage to get "Arenas" as an Esport?

  10. Anonymous Coward


    ...we all know that Blizzard has more money than God.

  11. Nathan

    Are Blizzard trying to suppress this article?

    I just tried to whisper the url to this story to a friend ingame and got an error that read "Unable to send chat to Señorprick:67 because your message contained reserved words". So I started whispering to myself and found I could send every part of the url if I broke it up but not all together. Plus links to other reg articles work fine.

    So is blizzard trying to stop players talking about how much of a killing is being made from them or am I missing something? Surely they realise we use other methods of communication than the ingame chat window, so theyre just proving they want to hide it if they are.

  12. Sooty


    that probably doesn't include any initial setup costs, so hardware, buildings, development. possibly even patches and addons.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Gold farming

    Now we know where the real gold farmers live - at the Blizzard HQ!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course

    It's obvious they're making money hand over fist people (like me) are forking out subs to pay to play the game, all they need to do is keep the servers working, the "in-game support" is pretty crappy and no doubt staffed by WoW addicts who probably couldn't afford the subs any more, so prostrate themselves before Blizzard and grovel to work for their playtime.

    It's strange though that people think of it as a community, there's 10 Million people playing the game, it's no more a community than London is, it's just a bunch of individuals, it's a good business model until things go wrong of course, the subscribers are tolerant of brief outages and surprisingly don't complain too much about bugs (particularly if they can be exploited)

    What can go wrong? Possibly the internet breaks, or WOTLK doesn't deliver and people just get bored.

  15. Ash


    ... wonderful, but was there a point?

    I'm glad they're making money. It means there will be more content, better service, and decent support for the future.

  16. Rob
    Thumb Up


    I've been waiting for someone to write about the money Blizzard makes on this game. Glad to see my calculations worked out about the same as well.

    Whether you like the game or not, you do have to hand it to Blizzard for the formula they have, I did a few beta tests of online games before WoW went RTM and one of those beta tests went RTM then folded. I think they ended up making arrangments for thier subscribers to get a cheap deal and transfer to EVE online.

  17. Steven Foster


    It's no real suprise that they are making bags of cash, but the real question is so what? Lots of people (incl myself) enjoy the game and have no problem with paying a relatively small fee per month to keep doing so.

    Making all that money also means they can pump vast amounts of time and resources into other projects, eg Starcraft II and Diablo III.

    Honestly, I hate a lot of companies out there, but Blizzard isn't one of them.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Steven Foster

    "Making all that money also means they can pump vast amounts of time and resources into other projects, eg Starcraft II and Diablo III."

    Meh, Duke Nukem Forever will be out before Starcraft II

  19. P. Lee

    Cheaper than a Sky subscription

    and apparently has rather more absorbing content.

    At least you talk to people while playing, that's more than can be said for people watching telly.

    No I don't play WoW - Lineage has much better graphics! ;)

    Icon: I should really get my coat and go play outside...

  20. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    RE: No expenced. No support

    After years of friends badgering me to get "WoWwed", I took advantage of the current ten-day trial earlier this month to have a look at WoW. And when that ten-day account expired, I created another. And then another. I'm still not convinced it's a game I'd want to pony up cash for, even at the measly rate of 10 euros a month here in the UK, but I finally understood what the appeal is. It is a very well-made game, it is technically smooth and plays on surprisingly low spec kit (I also tried it on my daughter's PC, an ancient 1.1GHz Athlon with 1GB of RAM and it was still playable!), and I haven't run into a single technical hitch. Compare that to a number of other commercial games that have frequently crashed my PC and you begin to understand the $200m mentioned was very well-spent! But what makes most of the MMPORGs is the social side, where you can have a laugh with mates, so I suppose it's not surprising Lars didn't like it.

    /mines the one with "Old gamers don't die, they're just all on CZ servers!"

  21. Steven Foster

    @ Jaowon

    Haha, you're probably right there.

  22. spam
    Thumb Down

    Regardless of the exact figures...

    Blizzard are raking it in and every man and his dog has been developing online subscription games trying to take a slice of that cake.

    Why people are apparently happy to pay so much is beyond me, they pay for the game to start with and when you look at how much bandwidth, storage and CPU power from other internet services you can get for the same 'rental' it is obviously a ripoff.

  23. Michael

    @ mathieu Nouzareth

    >>>WoW does not have 10 millions subscribers, they have 10 millions ACCOUNTS. Don't be fooled by the PR guy at Blizzard.

    If I own and play two accounts, I had to buy two copies of the game, and I pay two monthly $15 fees. Although you are correct that WoW does not have 10 million unique subscribers, your point is meaningless as people with multiple accounts pay multiple fees. Please, PLEASE think before you type...

  24. James O'Brien


    ROFL Nice one there though you owe me a keyboard cause I got my tea all over it.

    Though makes you wonder what with Blizzards constant push backs on release dates with their games what DNF would look like for release dates...

  25. Dex

    @ Steven Foster

    well CZ...niegh ANY FPS is better than that WoW malarky...CZ rox btw :-D UMP .45 ftw :P

    mines the kevlar

  26. Dan


    "Why people are apparently happy to pay so much is beyond me..."

    I always used to think of it in terms of cost per hour of entertainment. My £9 ish monthly fee bought me maybe 20 hours of entertainment (some people play a LOT more). That works out at less than 50p per hour. Compared to some other forms of entertainment like dvd rental/pay per view TV etc, that's bloody cheap.

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