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Blizzard acknowledges Star Wars: The Old Republic's impact on WOW

Subs dip "has to at least be attributable to SWTOR".

The dip in World of Warcraft subscriber numbers "has to at least be attributable to [Star Wars] The Old Republic", Blizzard acknowledged, speaking to Eurogamer last week.

There were 10.3 million WOW subscribers in November 2011. A year earlier, monthly subscribers peaked at 12 million.

Star Wars: The Old Republic launched in late December 2011. Blizzard hasn't released any World of Warcraft numbers since SWTOR's launch, but has announced 600 redundancies as well as an aggressive Scroll of Resurrection campaign to re-enlist lapsed WOW subscribers.

"We certainly do look at [where WOW players go], and we have a very smart bunch of guys who do our analytics for us," said senior World of Warcraft producer John Lagrave.

"Hey guys, I think I'm going to try a Sith Inquisitor for a while."

"Of course people are trying Star Wars - our development team are trying Star Wars! I'm one of the few people who's still playing it actually, but yeah we've seen a dip in subs. It certainly has to at least be attributable to The Old Republic, but it's also attributable to people who want to wait and get Mists of Pandaria, so it's not surprising.

"Are they going elsewhere? Yes they are. We don't have a lock on all the best games in the world - Skyrim was an amazing game."

"Of course people are trying Star Wars - our development team are trying Star Wars! I'm one of the few people who's still playing it actually, but yeah we've seen a dip in subs."

John Lagrave, senior producer, World of Warcraft

Single-player game Skyrim didn't cause "a sub drop", Lagrave said, "but people definitely did that as well as WOW".

Blizzard offers a completely free World of Warcraft trial up to player level 20. If you want to progress beyond that and unlock various other aspects of the MMO, you'll need to buy the game and pay a monthly fee.

"We could certainly look at extending the level of the trial," Lagrave mulled, "what you can do in the trial in terms of the amount of gold that you can have and all that kind of stuff.

"There's a fair amount that you can experience up to level 20, because you really get most of the core systems in by that point.

"But we can absolutely say, 'Hey, why don't we make it level 40?' 'Why don't we make it level 60?', do we let you at least experience the old world? It's all possible.

"Right now, no," he added, "but that's all absolutely on the table."

As for a full-scale switch for World of Warcraft from subscription business model to free-to-play, however - that does seem to be off the table.

"Right now we're very happy with the subscription system with World of Warcraft," Lagrave said. "We think it works very well.

"Mike [Morhaime] talks about the value we give you for that price-point, and that's a fairly legitimate statement. Certainly a very cheap form of entertainment. So yeah, we're comfortable with the subscription system. I won't say never on that, but gosh not now and it's been seven years! You'd think we'd have gotten there before now, so I don't think so."

Off the table for World of Warcraft, perhaps, but off the table for the next Blizzard MMO, codenamed Titan?

WOW subscribers may be waiting for 2012 expansion Mists of Pandaria, Lagrave said.

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