Activision Blizzard's popular MMO World of Warcraft
is continuing to shed subscribers, though a new promotional strategy is expected to help pick up the slack soon.
As of September 30, the game stood at 10.3 million players, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime revealed Tuesday in a Gamasutra-attended conference call. This is down nearly a million from the 11.1 million reported three months prior
, and significantly less than a peak of 12 million subscribers just last year.
According to Morhaime, the majority of these declines continues to come from the East, though the game continues to be "one of the most popular online games in China, and remains by far the most popular subscription-based MMO in the world."
"That said, we know there are improvements that we can make in game content," he continued.
As the company has been explaining for most of the year, subscriber churn following the game's last major expansion, Cataclysm
, was significant: the game lost nearly 1 million players, as seasoned veterans of the game re-upped their accounts, devoured the content quickly, and unsubscribed again.
The company has a content update pack launching in the coming weeks, but as Morhaime explained today, "it's really not intended to go out and drive new user acquisition, that's a whole other strategy. But it does drive engagement with the game, and so that will impact churn if we do it successfully, and will eventually drive winback, as players tell each other about the content they're enjoying."
Besides the game's upcoming fourth expansion pack, Mists of Pandaria
, subscriber count -- not to mention retention -- is expected to increase with a recently-announced promotion
that sees free copies of the company's upcoming Diablo III
included with the purchase of an annual pass to the game.