The Activision Blizzard Q4 takings suggest critical acclaim has not equated to financial success.
WoW Wednesday: Why Has Dragonflight Failed to Surpass Shadowlands?
While it's somewhat painful to see an expansion that has (so far) improved on its forebears failings, it's not that surprising. Last year saw an exodus of WoW players that mostly benefited the acclaimed Final Fantasy XIV, thanks in no small part to the widespread dissatisfaction with Shadowlands.
This led to such firsts as the Community Council, an apparent effort by Blizzard to recoup its losses by showing that it was finally willing to listen to, and maybe even act on, feedback. But winning back the favor of the disenfranchised is no mean feat.
Now we can see the impact that this has had on the Activision Blizzard Q4 bottom line. While the company didn't quantify the damage with a comparison, it admitted that "early Dragonflight sales have not reached the level of the prior expansion." Which is a rarity in the history of WoW expansions, but not unheard of, with the same fate befalling the beloved Mists of Pandaria in 2012.
However, it's also possible that Dragonflight failed to win back as many players as Shadowlands for simpler reasons: its own shortcomings. Perhaps the return to WoW-as-normal just isn't as exciting as Shadowlands' foray into the afterlife. Perhaps the all-new Dracthyr Evoker doesn't hold a candle to the likes of WotLK's Death Knight. Or perhaps the gaming world's fantasy enjoyers have simply had enough of dragons. Though we highly doubt it.
Whatever the reason, this could actually be a net-benefit for WoW players, as the report promises "to deliver substantially more follow-on content for the expansion than in the past." Which sounds like an ace up Blizzard's sleeve that we can't wait to see.