World of Warcraft sheds another 1.5 million subs

World of Warcraft 5-4

World of Warcraft is still the undisputed champ of subscription MMOs, but its numbers continue to slide. Activision Blizzard's second-quarter financial results have revealed that it is now down to 5.6 million subscribers. That figure represents a loss of 1.5 million monthly grinders since May, when it dropped dramatically from roughly ten million users to 7.1 million.

That's obviously not good—according to VentureBeat, it represents the lowest number since 2005—but having 5.6 million subscribers is still the kind of problem literally every other MMO maker on the planet would love to worry about. Blizzard also said that the release of Fury of Hellfire, "one of the largest non-expansion updates to date," helped stabilize the subscriber count near the end of the quarter. More importantly (to Activision, anyway), Blizzard's revenues for the quarter actually increased year-over-year, thanks to "strong performance on the expanding Blizzard portfolio."

That of course is primarily a reference to Hearthstone, which came out for mobile devices in April and has almost doubled "key engagement metrics" year over year, and the meta-Blizzard MOBA Heroes of the Storm that came out in early June. World of Warcraft will also no doubt see a spike in users following the release of the next expansion, which will be announced on August 6 at Gamescom. The days of ten million subscribers may be gone, in other words, but I don't think we need worry about the good ship Blizz just yet.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.