Blizzard has downplayed World of Warcraft's latest subscriber count fall.
Last night Activision Blizzard announced that as of 30th June 2014 World of Warcraft had 6.8m subscribers. That's a drop of 800,000 since 31st March, when it had 7.6m subscribers. Subscribers have fallen steadily since the peak of 12m in 2010.
But WOW remains the biggest subscriber-based MMO in the world, nearly a decade after it launched. And Blizzard expects things to pick up when the next expansion Warlords of Draenor launches later this year.
Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime said the World of Warcraft franchise remains healthy with revenues up year on year, in part because of Warlords of Draenor presales, which are over 1.5m (all in the west), and sales of the character boost. This, Morhaime said, suggested there will be "strong support" from the community for the expansion.
"We anticipated fluctuation in subscribership due to seasonality and the fact that the current game content is at the end of its life cycle," Morhaime said.
"And as expected, we did see a decline in subscribers, which mostly came out of the east. This pattern is right in line, percentage-wise, with the drops that we saw at Cataclysm's cycle in Q2 2012. That drop in 2012 was followed by an uptick in subscribers just ahead of Mists of Pandaria's launch. So we're hoping to see players return once we draw closer to the release of Warlords of Draenor later this year."
Elsewhere, Morhaime pointed to the size of the Battle.net community, which is up 40 per cent year on year based on monthly actives. This comes as no surprise: it's a busy time for Blizzard, which has card game Hearthstone, action role-playing game Diablo 3, MOBA Heroes of the Storm and real-time strategy game StarCraft 2 on its books.
"We have a healthy community," Morhaime said. "I think the community is ready for new content, and so far, into the beta of Warlords, the feedback has been very positive."