The big picture: World of Warcraft isn't nearly as big today as it once was although it's difficult to pinpoint its popularity as Blizzard no longer shares those numbers. One has to assume that it's still a profitable endeavor but how much so is anyone's guess.

Blizzard on Friday announced that the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch is set for launch on July 17, roughly one month ahead of the expansion’s arrival.

The patch aims to bridge the gap between the last expansion, Legion, and Battle for Azeroth.

Next week’s update will include a stat squish similar to the one delivered in Warlords of Draenor that reduces health, damage and stat numbers across the board for both players and NPCs. Blizzard says the change is being made so it’ll be easier to read numbers at a glance.

Artifact power is also going away although some of their traits are being incorporated into your class or spec by default. There will also be a Legion PvP post-season where you’ll be able to earn new gear to prepare for the expansion.

War Mode, meanwhile, “tears down boundaries and server rule-set distinctions, allowing players on any realm to decide when they want to jump into a world PvP experience full of like-minded players in the ongoing battle between Horde and Alliance.”

Official patch notes hadn’t been posted as of this publishing but are said to be coming soon. Look for them over on Blizzard’s pre-patch announcement page.

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth launches on August 14. It’s available to pre-order now with pricing starting at $49.99.