It seems that World of Warcraft has just hit another milestone. It has surpassed 5 million customers worldwide. It doesn't say if that is the currently active players or just the number of unique people who have registered on the server. Whether they stuck around and played or just gave up is a mystery.
From the press release:
IRVINE, California - December 19, 2005 - Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. today announced that World of Warcraft®, its massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), has surpassed five million customers worldwide. The subscription-based MMORPG launched approximately one year ago in North America, Australia, and New Zealand and has since released in multiple countries throughout Europe and Asia. This latest milestone comes on the heels of Blizzard Entertainment®'s recent announcement of a World of Warcraft expansion, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade™, which will push the boundaries of the game and offer even more content and features for players.
"World of Warcraft's growth continues to exceed all our expectations," said Mike Morhaime, president and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. "We want to reiterate our thanks to the millions of players worldwide and to all the retailers who have enthusiastically supported the game over the past year. Our commitment to continue growing World of Warcraft is stronger than ever, with development on future content patches and on our 2006 expansion, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade, well underway. We look forward to offering even more content for current customers in the months ahead and welcoming new players into the world this holiday season."
Even if there are only 2 million people active and paying the minimum monthly fee, that is still a staggering US$26 million in revenue per month. I think their development costs are well and truly covered...
Blizzard Entertainment - Press Release