Shadowlands is already smashing WoW records, and it’s not even out yet

Sylvanas approaches The Lich King to open the Shadowlands.Activision Blizzard

Shadowlands is on-track to be the biggest World of Warcraft release to date, with the juggernaut MMORPG already breaking 16-year-old franchise records ahead of the eighth expansion’s expected release date in late November.

The next WoW release, Shadowlands, has had more pre-sales than any other expansion in the title’s history, Activision Blizzard confirmed in their latest quarterly earnings report.

Activision Blizzard’s chief executive, Bobby Kotick, confirmed Shadowlands has already bowled over at least one franchise record on Nov. 2. He said, “Pre-sales for the upcoming Shadowlands expansion are the highest we’ve seen of any release.”

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“We’ve seen unprecedented engagement trends since the [World of Warcraft] subscriber base doubled following the launch of Classic last year,” Blizzard’s CEO added.

Kotick also revealed World of Warcraft is well on track to make “over $1 billion” in the next annual year. The MMORPG rakes in more than $300m each quarter, bumping shoulders with gaming giants Call of Duty, and mobile cult-classic Candy Crush.

World of Warcraft artwork showing to characters doing battle in a forest.Blizzard
World of Warcraft is steadily raking in over $1 billion every year, Activision Blizzard has reported.

World of Warcraft has had a bumpy ride in the ’10s. Mists of Pandaria (2012) drove plenty away from the game, and follow-up Warlords of Draenor (2014) couldn’t do much to stem the tide of veteran fans turning their backs on the series.

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Legion, released in 2016, had issues, but overall it did what people wanted World of Warcraft expansions to do; delivered a great story, solid endgame content, and was pretty fun.

The franchise was rattled slightly by the mixed reception for Battle for Azeroth, but with the release of WoW Classic in mid-2019, the legacy MMORPG seemed to find its feet. The player base flourished again, and it appears to have ‘saved’ the series.

“Franchise engagement is at the highest level for this stage ahead of an expansion in around a decade,” Activision’s COO Daniel Alegre revealed in the same Q3 call.

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WoW Shadowlands castleBlizzard
A record number of World of Warcraft fans are set to storm the Shadowlands in late November.

The numbers are all up across the board too. According to WoW stat tracking websites, the MMORPG boasts around 105m subscribers, 4.99 million of which are playing daily.

All of this points in one direction; the Shadowlands release on Nov. 23, will be one of the biggest in World of Warcraft history. New and returning players are already gearing up to get in-game ⁠—  it’s going to be a big one!

Ahead of Shadowlands, World of Warcraft is celebrating its 16th birthday by bringing back Lord Kazzak, Azuregos, and more. The title’s next expansion, its eighth since release, will be available from Monday, Nov. 23.

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