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World of Warcraft dips to 6.8 million subscribers

Returning players expected as 'Warlords of Draenor' expansion release nears

World of Warcraft subscriber numbers have dropped to around 6.8 million, Blizzard has announced.

Still the "number 1 subscription-based MMORPG", as Blizzard points out, its user base is down from the 7.7 million subscribers clocked by the end of the second calendar quarter of 2013.

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Despite this, Blizzard president and co-founder Mike Morhaime says the MMO "remains healthy", and that declines were to be expected as the last expansion, 2012's Mists of Pandaria, reaches the "end of its life cycle".

"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 drop that we saw at the end of Cataclysm's cycle in Q2 2012," said Morhaime. "That drop in 2012 was followed by an uptake in subscribers just ahead of Myst of Pandaria's launch.

"We're hoping to see players return once we draw closer to the release of Warlords of Draenor later this year," he added.

Warlords of Draenor is the next major WoW expansion, and will explore the franchise's history across the new continent of Draenor. It will also increase World of Warcraft's level cap to 100 and offer players the option to immediately boost one new or existing character to level 90.

The expansion will also introduce visual upgrades that'll increase the polygon counts of some player models more than fivefold, Blizzard confirmed earlier this year.

Blizzard says the expansion is expected to release on or before December 20, 2014.

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