Once upon a time, World of Warcraft was on fire. Aside from being the top dog when it came to MMOs, and one of the most played games across the board period at that moment, it was simply a cultural phenomena. If something is the basis for an entire South Park episode, it's either doing some really well or really wrong (sometimes both).
But that was then and this is now; Activision Blizzard has just announced that the WoW subscriber base has shrunk down to 7.7 million users. Which is down from the 8.3 million mark that was reported just 3 months ago.
Joystiq notes that the pervious quarter's numbers was the result of 1.3 players either canceling their subscriptions or passing on the chance to renew their accounts. And according to WoW Insider, that number from earlier this year was their lowest since the launch of the Burning Crusade expansion in 2007.
The highest it's been was right after the release of the Cataclysm expansion, which was around 12 million. So while it's not quite at the halfway point, it's getting awfully close.
This is obviously bad news for a game that thrives on the number of people who plays it. But is it any surprise? Even WoW notes: "The loss is hardly unusual -- you have to remember that WoW is a 9-year-old game, and we're at a pretty uninteresting time in the expansion cycle."
It'll be interesting to see what will be done with the franchise from this point forward. In related news, Activision Blizzard recently purchased controlling shares from Vivendi to gain full ownership of the company.
It's also worth noting that helping to broker the deal was Tencent, a Chinese investment company that runs assorted social networks and gaming portals back home. Perhaps WoW might become part of that larger puzzle?