Mists of Pandaria Sales Below Expectations*

There’s a reason for that giant star, but I’ll get to that in a second. According to Lazard Capital Markets, Mists of Pandaria sales have been underwhelming, vastly lower than Cataclysm. The firm estimates that this week’s launch saw less than a million purchases, coming in around the 600,000-700,000 mark since Tuesday. In comparison, Cataclysm set records by pushing 3.3 million units in its first week back in December 2010.

Now, back to that star. The major caveat that Lazard Capital seemingly underestimates is the rise of digital sales. Blizzard, and most other major publishers, has been pushing digital sales hard to lock in additional revenue from its titles. In fact, MMOG players are even more apt to adopt the model since the physical package is essentially useless after it has been applied to an account. Unless you’re purchasing the Collector’s Edition, then a boxed copy makes little sense.

Caveat aside, it’s unlikely that MoP pushed over 2.5 million copies in digital, but I firmly believe it’s far higher than Lazard Capital Markets is giving the fourth WoW expansion credit for. WoW generates nearly 25 percent of Activition’s revenue and is responsible for about 50 percent of its operating income, making the drastic gap a big deal. What do you think?

3 Comments on Mists of Pandaria Sales Below Expectations*

  1. I think you’re right about digital sales. I won’t buy physical disks anymore. If the game doesn’t offer digital downloads, I won’t pick it up. This includes CEs as well – I used to buy CEs of all games I purchased, but these days if the CE has physical items in it, I won’t buy it. I’ll pick up digital deluxe versions, but I don’t want any physical crap with my games anymore.

  2. I wouldn’t be surprised by the numbers knowing how many people recently have become burnt out from WoW.

    None of my friends from this game play anymore, I think I was the last hold out and I quit about a year ago. The people that got me into the game quit when Wrath came out, and my guild almost in it’s entirety quit half way through cataclysm.

    When I asked my local gamestop about the midnight release when I was picking up FIFA13 he made it sound like it was a waste of time due to the turn out and the cost of paying the mall cops to stick around. Now I’m sure this wasn’t the case everywhere, I found it surprising that an AAA midnight release actually lost a store money.

  3. @Dan
    I agree, there’s a lot of signs showing WoW has/is/continues to slow down, many of which we’ve documented here. After all, it dropped to just around 10 million shortly before launch. No small number but down ~17% from the peak of 12 million.

    That being said, the store losing money is no one’s fault but the store. First off, it knew how many there’d be coming to pick it up. But that’s the risk Gamestop takes for guaranteeing midnight. IMO, they should have coordinated it to a different store if possible. Logistics aside, this just speaks more to the sales of MoP by digital means. All of my friends that didn’t get the CE that still play, which there are many, went with digital upgrades.

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