World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is the latest expansion for the 16-year-old MMORPG, which takes players into the afterlife itself to deal with an entity known only as The Jailer, culminating a story arc that has been developing slowly for the past few years. The Jailer and famed Banshee Queen Sylvanas Windrunner seek to undo the cycle of life and death itself, removing the ancient rules of mortality with a new regime of their own making.
We’re still playing through the expansion ahead of our full review, but Shadowlands’ launch has been uncharacteristically stable, with minimal server issues and queues. Typically, WoW expansion launches come with heaps of problems to the point of being unplayable in the early stages, but Shadowlands has been smooth sailing. Shadowlands adds soloable endgame dungeon content for the first time, alongside rich progression systems that tie into the on-going story, in addition to all new-zones, a new level cap, and new dungeons and raids.
Today via a press release, Blizzard announced that World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is the “fastest-selling” PC game of all time, according to its own internal projections and industry analysts, shifting 3.7 million copies, beating the previous record held by Diablo III. World of Warcraft is also seeing engagement levels not seen since the game’s peak around the launch of Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm, over 10 years past.
The previously announced industry record-holder, Blizzard’s own Diablo® III, sold through more than 3.5 million copies as of its first day of release. Today’s announcement confirms that Shadowlands has surpassed that milestone as well as any other reported sell-through achievement for the same time frame among all PC games historically.
In addition, World of Warcraft has continued to see strong engagement from the global community franchise-wide:
- In the months leading up to the expansion’s release and the time since launch, the game reached and has sustained its highest number of players on monthly or longer-term subscriptions compared to the same period ahead of and following any WoW expansion in the past decade, in both the West and the East.
- Players have spent more time in Azeroth year to date than in the same period of any of the last 10 years.
- In addition, total player time in-game this year to date has nearly doubled compared to the same period last year.
World of Warcraft is a bit of an anomaly in the industry. Few games are able to remain subscription-only, at least in the West, with Final Fantasy XIV Online being the only comparable competitor. Blizzard also released WoW: Classic servers on the same subscription last year, allowing players to experience an untouched version of the original game, which had no matchmaking systems, which created a unique sense of community the game has arguably since lost. It could be that many WoW: Classic players are trying out modern retail World of Warcraft alongside the vanilla experience while they wait for Blizzard to release the old school raids, such as Naxxramas, which recently went live.
Many online games have seen a boost thanks to the pandemic, but World of Warcraft’s continued success is a testament to the game’s lasting quality. E̶v̶e̶n̶ ̶i̶f̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶d̶i̶s̶r̶e̶g̶a̶r̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶f̶a̶c̶t̶ ̶B̶l̶i̶z̶z̶ ̶r̶e̶f̶u̶s̶e̶s̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶m̶a̶k̶e̶ ̶N̶e̶t̶h̶e̶r̶ ̶P̶o̶r̶t̶a̶l̶ ̶D̶e̶m̶o̶n̶o̶l̶o̶g̶y̶ ̶b̶u̶i̶l̶d̶s̶ ̶v̶i̶a̶b̶l̶e̶. It’ll be interesting to see if Cyberpunk 2077 can make this record short-lived when it drops on December 10, 2020.
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