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World of Warcraft subs dip, 'major content update' out this year

Blizzard says new raid and dungeon content will help draw lapsed players back in

Blizzard has announced "a slight decrease" in World of Warcraft subscribers to 11.1 million during the quarter ended June 30.

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Speaking during an Activision Blizzard earnings call last night, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime said the company is hard at work on new content for the MMO that it hopes will both satisfy current players and entice lapsed ones to return.

"In terms of subscriber growth around the world, what I would say is what we have seen is that subscribership tends to be seasonal and driven by content updates, and so as we're heading further away from an expansions launch, it's normal to see some declines.

The team is currently working on our largest content update since Cataclysm and that will hit later this year," he added. "The next content update... will include major new raid and dungeon content. We believe that this new end-game content will keep the game fresh for current players and provide compelling reasons for lapsed players to come back."

The recent Chinese launch of WoW: Cataclysm and a newly announced Portuguese version of WoW set for release later this year will also help boost the game's player base, Morhaime said.

"Aside from promoting World of Warcraft in other regions, we're taking other steps to bring more players into the community," he added. "With the new World of Warcraft Starter Edition, players are now able to play the game for free until level 20 with no time restrictions. Since the launch of this program, we've seen a significant increase in new account creations, which we hope will allow us to continue attracting new players."

Blizzard made filings with the US Patent and Trademark Office last week for Mists Of Pandaria, leading to speculation they could relate to plans for a fourth World of Warcraft expansion.

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