For the first time since 2012, the latest World of Warcraft expansion has underperformed compared to its predecessor in terms of commercial success. According to Activision Blizzard’s Q4 2022 financial results, the company stated that the “early sales of Dragonflight have fallen short of the prior expansion.”
This phenomenon of a World of Warcraft expansion not matching or exceeding the sales of its predecessor is uncommon for the franchise. The 2020 expansion, Shadowlands, sold over 3.7 million copies on its launch day, surpassing the 2018 expansion, Battle for Azeroth, which sold over 3.4 million copies on its launch day, setting a new franchise record at the time. The 2016 expansion, Legion, sold 3.3 million copies on day one, equaling the previous record. The last expansion that did not match or exceed its predecessor’s sales was Mists of Pandaria, released in 2012.
While Activision Blizzard did not disclose the exact number of Dragonflight copies sold, it is known that it is fewer than the 3.7 million copies of Shadowlands. However, the company emphasized that it will deliver “considerably more content after the launch of the expansion” and that post-launch subscriber retention in the West is stronger compared to previous World of Warcraft expansions. Additionally, the mobile game Warcraft: Arclight Rumble continues to perform well during its regional testing phase.
In our review, we gave World of Warcraft: Dragonflight a 7 out of 10, stating, “Dragonflight reinvigorates the sense of wonder and exploration that initially drew me to World of Warcraft for the first 30 to 40 hours. Beyond that, it starts to feel a bit lacking in depth.”