Considering I’m just as addicted to World of Warcraft as I’ve ever been, this doesn’t come as any real surprise; I had been watching the numbers creep from 8 million to 8.5, then to 9, and waiting for this announcement. But still, it’s amazing to force that shift in thinking away from World of Warcraft being a video game that’s inhabited mostly by gamers and geeks and people familiar with those subcultures to the fact that everyone and their mother (yes, my coworker’s mother actually plays religiously) plays WoW.
WoWInsider asks the important question as to whether or not WoW has reached market saturation: I don’t think so. The game is still enjoying relative strong growth in Asian markets, and the holiday season brought a lot of people back to the game and new people to the game as people who weren’t too keen on the game finally decided to get on board with the expansion, The Burning Crusade. Now that Wrath of the Lich King is announced (although in traditional Blizzard manner, no dates have been provided for its release), the game could stand to bring even more people into the fold. Just wait – there’ll be “World of Warcraft Battlechest” boxes on store shelves not long after the expansion comes out.
But let’s take this into consideration, since WoWInsider also offered up a global population chart for comparison. There are more paying World of Warcraft players than the entire population of Switzerland. Or Sweden. Or Denmark. Or New Zealand. If you put all the paying WoW players on an island, that island would have about half the population of Australia, or Taiwan. That’s an incredible achievement.