World of Warcraft subscription numbers continue steady slide to fewer than 8 million players

Activision Blizzard released its preliminary second quarter earnings results yesterday and revealed that World of Warcraft 's slow slide in subscribers is continuing as expected, down to 7.7 million active players. We've been marking the decline, it seems, every time new financial reports come out.

It's a curious feeling to watch the 800-pound gorilla of the MMO world slowly but predictably shrink in size. On the one hand, over four million people have packed up and left the world of Azeroth. On the other hand, the devoted players still enjoying the almost nine-year-old game continue to outnumber every other MMO in the world.

It's hard to find concrete numbers, but it looks like the most recent competitors to WoW were MMORPGs like Star Wars: The Old Republic and The Secret World , but both of these games had a fraction of WoW's subscribers at their peaks—and then they both went free-to-play within a year of release.

We're watching the last years of WoW's crumbling empire, and it may the last of its kind. With free-to-play MMORPGs becoming the new normal and dozens of new free-to-play shooters launching every year, it's unlikely that we'll ever see another World of Warcraft.