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'World of Warcraft' is losing players, gaining content

Activision Blizzard

"World of Warcraft" has lost players for the second financial quarter in a row. Will new content bring those lapsed players back?

The massively multiplayer online game known as "World of Warcraft" has gotten just a little bit less, well, massive.

Activision Blizzard told investors during a recent earnings call that the renowned game lost about 300,000 players during the last financial quarter — bringing the number of subscribers to 11.1 million worldwide. That's the second quarter in a row the game has lost players.

Yeah, 11.1 million players — that's still a whole lot of people playing the seven-year old, fantasy role-playing game. But at its peak, "World of Warcraft" boasted 12 million players worldwide.

Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime said the drop in numbers was partly a seasonal thing and something that isn't surprising considering that time has passed since they launched their last expansion — "Cataclysm" — at the end of last year.

He also said that, since players have been able to play "WoW" for a long time, they've gotten better at the game, which allows them to play through the new content and then move on more quickly. (You can read a complete transcript of the Activision Blizzard meeting at Seeking Alpha here.)

To stem the subscription bleed, Blizzard is working on new content to keep things interesting.

"The 'World of Warcraft' development team is also working on the next content update, which will include major new raid and dungeon content," he said. "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."

Morhaime added that it would be the "largest content update since 'Cataclysm'" and said it would arrive "later this year."

Still, the decline is probably not a good sign considering that "WoW" will likely face its biggest competition in fairly short order.

Rival Electronic Arts will soon launch "Star Wars: The Old Republic," an online game that some have predicted could be the so-called "WoW-killer." Electronic Arts also is planning to launch another massively multiplayer online game called "The Secret World."

Then again, Morhaime said that Activision Blizzard is busy investing in a new MMO of its own — which they have not released any details on — and that it "should allow us to continue our industry leadership position for a long time to come."

Thanks to Gamasutra for the heads up.)

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Winda Benedetti writes about games for msnbc.com. You can follow her tweets about games and other things here on Twitter or join her in the stream here on Google+. And be sure to check out the In-Game Facebook page here.