In brief: Despite what some of its detractors would have you believe, Blizzard’s long-running MMO World of Warcraft is alive and well. Indeed, with the launch of its latest expansion, “Shadowlands,” WoW is doing better than it has in over a decade, in terms of both sales and sustained player numbers.
Shadowlands, for the unaware, is the first expansion in WoW history to take players to Azeroth’s (the universe WoW is set in) afterlife. In the expansion, players meet up with fallen heroes of old and can choose to align themselves with one of the Shadowlands’ four factions, known as “Covenants.”
These Covenants work together to preserve the balance in the afterlife, and each has its own set of beliefs and goals. There are the honorable (but set-in-their-ways) Kyrians of holy Bastion, the warlike Necrolords of Maldraxxus, the nature-loving druids of Ardenweald, and the vampiric nobility of Revendreth.
Whether it’s Shadowlands unique setting, or simply the many gameplay changes it has brought to WoW, players are flocking to the expansion in droves. As of the expansion’s first day of availability, Shadowlands managed to sell over 3.7 million copies.
Blizzard says this milestone has made Shadowlands the “fastest-selling PC game of all time industry-wide,” at least as far as day-one sales go. We’re not sure whether or not an expansion should qualify as a game, but with a minimum price tag of $40 and dozens (if not hundreds) of ours of playable content, we suppose it’s close enough.
Some other notable WoW metrics released by Blizzard today include the game reaching and sustaining its “highest number of players on monthly or longer-term subscriptions” compared to the same period for any other expansion in the past decade.
Blizzard also says players have spent more time in WoW this year than any other year over the same time period. This is still impressive, but it’s also to be expected — the Covid-19 pandemic has probably encouraged more people to stay home in 2020 than any year prior.
If you want to take Shadowlands out for a spin yourself, it’s available for purchase through Blizzard’s Battle.net client. The Base Edition is $40, but there are also Heroic and Epic editions for $60 and $80, respectively — these come with some extra cosmetics and a max-level XP boost for one character of your choice.
If it’s your first time playing WoW, also note that you’ll need to purchase game time separately to access the latest content, which will run you $15 per month.