Studying players' time following the release of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm 10 days ago, Raptr determined that the top 11 percent of most active users account for more than half of the total time spent in the game.
What's more, the top Warcraft player in its community registered a shocking 149 hours of gameplay in a single week. There are 168 hours, total, in a seven-day span.
However, overall playtime figures for Warcraft, after Cataclysm, are "nearly identical" to a major first-person shooter release on a console, like Call of Duty: Black Ops or Halo: reach. Total playtime on day of release, and length of the average game session are nearly identical between Warcraft and the console shooters. The explanation is simply in the law of averages. While more than a third of Warcraft's overall audience clocks in at 30-plus hours a week, a greater chunk only plays a few hours per day, dragging down the gameplay figures.
Raptr also found that Warcraft's playtime "has grown five times since the summer of 2010," thanks to the return of previous subscribers. Unmentioned, but a possible influence, was Blizzard's offer of free playing time for those with lapsed accounts, and free time in Cataclysm for those who bought previous expansions but haven't picked it up yet.