I mean, I played a hunter in Vanilla and BC, I have played every WoW expansion since then as well, and it is more min-max now than it has ever been. That “macro” you are referring to is the steadyshot macro to time steadyshots between your auto-attacks, and it couldn’t be “tuned” to your ping, you were just kind of fucked by your ping, and you had to do your own delaying to make the rotation work. It was more of a “feel” and it was super cool.
In TBC classic, on the re-vamped client there was no ping issues, so hunters had an even more complicated rotation that would depend on their main hand weapon speed, and timing steadyshots between auto shots. Even in that one example things have been min-maxed to a ludicrous degree since then. People have dedicated discords, heavily macro’d spreadsheets, just to optimize DPS. It is multiple levels of hardcore beyond what it was in 2007.
Fuck man, you have blizzard patching out DPS min-max exploits weekly at this point. It has gotten ludicrous.
DK’s clam-weaving was a hilarious thing a couple weeks back. Where you could open a fished up clam to reset the GCD (global cooldown) during your rotation, which increased your DPS by a very small %. Shit has been stupid in classic.
In my experience, playing TBC then vs TBC now, is that was not a widespread thing that everyone was into. Things were way more relaxed, there were no twitch streamers with 3 hour discussions on which pieces of gear to take, and how to time your rotation down to the nanosecond.
You only need to look at the % of people who completed raids then vs now. People have optimized the game to the point where many boss encounters have skipped phases due to the DPS being so high. It is a completely different world.
12M was the peak, which was WOTLK (and maybe the start of Cata), it is only considered to be the peak, because after that Blizz stopped sharing subscriber counts publicly (in the same way) and it was known that servers closed/consolidated, obviously people had left.
I would assume it is still in the millions, but probably not in the 10’s of millions at this point.