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Blizzard changes the subject as Warcraft's subscriptions slip slightly again

World of Warcraft's active subscriptions edged down again, to their lowest figure in nine years, Activision Blizzard reported. This is also the last time you'll ever hear the company reveal the game's current subscription figures.

Blizzard Entertainment, according to GameSpot, will no longer report subscription numbers for the MMO, which is an enormous brand boasting an 11-year tenure but also an older game grappling with a declining installation.

The 5.5 million subscribers World of Warcraft had as of Sept. 30 is about 100,000 fewer than it did in the preceding quarter. The figure is still at its lowest since 2005, a year after the game launched. Subscriptions at the same time one year ago stood at 7.4 million.

Though it has a sixth expansion, Legion, coming soon, Blizzard's evidently done with the subscriber-number rat race. It told GameSpot that "there are other metrics that are better indicators of the overall Blizzard performance."

This comports with how other major names in video gaming are massaging expectations with investors, or playing coy with press and competitors. Microsoft, in announcing its latest fiscal year-end results, chose to highlight its Xbox Live users over sales of the Xbox One console. Electronic Arts now touts monthly average player statistics in its calls with investors. And Activision's PR for Destiny has for a solid year danced around actual sales figures (to customers) for the game, offering a variety of other statistics instead.

World of Warcraft isn't going anywhere, of course. A beta for Legion is expected before year's end and BlizzCon, which gets going on Friday, should have plenty more on the subject. And, next year, the feature film Warcraft will hit theaters. A full trailer for that also is expected by week's end.

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