Shadowlands beats out the previous title holder, Diablo III (also produced by Blizzard Entertainment), which sold 3.5 million copies on its first day.
Released on November 23 – the 16th anniversary of World of Warcraft’s launch – the expansion almost certainly benefited from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which as GamesRadar notes has pushed many more people inside and forced them to restrict their social interactions, leading to an industry-wide boom in new and returning users.
In fact, Activision also notes in their report that “In the months leading up to the expansion’s release and the time since launch, the game reached and has sustained its highest number of players on monthly or longer-term subscriptions compared to the same period ahead of and following any WoW expansion in the past decade, in both the West and the East.”
16 years on, World of Warcraft is still going strong
All of this is mighty impressive for a 16-year-old MMO that has been repeatedly written off as dead or dying at various points in recent years.
“It’s been a huge thrill to enter this whole-new dimension of the Warcraft universe together with millions of players around the world,” said J. Allen Brack, president of Blizzard Entertainment.
“It’s been equally rewarding to see players enjoying all of the new features and content in Shadowlands —whether they’re exploring new aspects of their characters with the Covenants or setting foot in WoW for the first time with the new-player experience in Exile’s Reach—and there’s much more to come.”
This latest expansion to World of Warcraft is definitely the most ambitious in at least a decade after 2010’s Cataclysm completely upended the map of the game world, marking what many players at the time – and in the years since – a major inflection point for the MMO. Whether Shadowlands has the same kind of impact on the player experience remains to be seen.