Blizzard EVP of product development Frank Pearce has told VG247 that World of Warcraft will return to growth this year, moving beyond the 11.5 million subs it's been stuck at since 2008.
Speaking with Adam Hartley in an interview in London yesterday, Pearce told us that the launch of Cataclysm later this year, as well as the release of Wrath of the Lich King in China, will bring increased numbers to the MMO.
When asked if it had hit its peak as far as the number of players went, Pearce said: "No, I don’t think that at all.
"I mean, you can look at that number and if you look at some of the details around it… In China, for example, we haven’t even launched Wrath of the Lich King yet, and that expansion is already 18-plus months old.
"They’re still playing The Burning Crusade there, because we’re waiting for approval for Wrath from the appropriate agencies. And once we get that approval and launch Wrath in China then I think we will see growth."
Pearce added Cataclysm will probably see some "win-back" from players who had broken from the game.
"Whenever we launch an expansion we usually see some win-back from players who have set WoW aside temporarily," he said.
"Hopefully we will get some people back from Cataclysm as well. I don’t think 11.5 million is a peak, necessarily, but there are certain things that we need to do and need to do well in order to see it go further."
Earlier this year during its full-year financials for 2009, Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime said that the MMO had stopped growing, and had stuck at 11.5 million subs since late 2008.
Get our full interview with Frank Pierce here. Cataclysm releases later this year.