In The Beginning
It’s hard to believe it’s been over half a decade since WoW hit the shelves. Since its release back in November 2004, WoW has grown into a titanic force of an MMO. Even if you have never experienced WoW for yourself, there’s no doubt you’ve heard about it through other popular media. With it’s easy to pick up gameplay, fantastic stylized world and all the social interaction you can shake a stick at, it’s no wonder WoW has become the most successful MMO of all time. Pushing upwards of 11 million players, Blizzard has created a monster, destroying most of the competition in the process.
From its release, the player base of WoW has grown from year to year. It has survived where other MMO’s have failed.
Games such as:
I’m not saying these games haven’t had success. Generally speaking, an MMO only has to have a few hundred thousand subscribers to be profitable. However when you weigh them up against WoW, it’s easy to see that Blizzard is operating in a league of their own. Games such as Dark Age of Camelot topped out subscription wise around 200k, WAR was around 375k and even Age Of Conan, which developer Funcom boasted had over 750,000 sales isn’t doing so well. The company lost $33.8 million in 2008 and it’s estimated the player base of AoC has dropped to well under 100k.
In chart form, this is how the market looks in terms of active subscriptions between these 5 games.
Yes there are other MMO’s out there, and this chart isn’t based on exact figures, but it gives a rough idea of the competition. So the question really is. Why has WoW stayed on the top spot for so long?
There is no denying WoW introduced a lot of people to the MMO market. Sure there were games like EverQuest and Ultima Online, and these games are still going strong today, but they always had a stigma attached to them, MMO’s back then weren’t for the casual player, and they definitely weren’t as popular as they are today.
When WoW hit the scene, it brought a lot to the table. It was easy for players new to the genre to get into. It ran well on older systems, the gameplay was engaging and it didn’t ask you to be a mathematician or spend insane amounts of time farming to get the most out of your toon. In other words, WoW was catered towards the more “casual” player.
This is the main reason I believe WoW has done as well as it has. Blizzard has done an excellent job providing content for “casual” players,” hardcore” players, and everyone that falls in between, and it doesn’t punish you for being in one category or the other. I can log in for 20 minutes a week, or 20 hours a week and still have things to do.
Isn’t This Exciting!
As it stands at the moment, there isn’t a lot of new content to keep players interested. It happens every time a new expansion is on the horizon. ICC has been out for over 6 months and is becoming a little stale. All that’s left content wise for Wotlk is the Ruby Sanctum, and we all know it’s just going to be another loot piñata. Depending on when Cataclysm is released, we could be twiddling our thumbs for a while yet.
I haven’t logged into WoW in over a month, and I doubt I will until patch 4.0 is released. I still really enjoy WoW, and I have no plans to leave the game, however I do find it’s holding my interest less and less these days. I know a lot of people that have quit the game over the last few months and I have no doubt Cataclysm will bring them back… but how long can Blizzard keep it up?
It Cannot Be Killed!
There has always been talk of a “WoW killer”, and if anyone can do it, I would place my bets with Bioware. Baldur’s Gate is one of my favourite games of all time. Mass Effect is probably one of the best franchises to come out in a long time, Dragon Age was incredible, Never Winter Nights, the original Knights of the old Republic, Jade Empire, MDK. These guys know what they’re doing.Star Wars: The Old Republic has a lot of buzz around it at the moment. Setting their sights on being the “Next Gen” MMO, with “immersive storytelling, dynamic combat, and groundbreaking companion characters”. Could it be the “WoW Killer”?
I honestly don’t think it will be. There is enough room in the market for another BIG MMO. There is a good chance SW:TOR will take some players from WoW, but in the end, I think the only thing that poses a real threat to WoW is Blizzard. How Blizzard manages their game in the next few years will be the deciding factors. I wouldn’t be surprised if WoW goes free2play in the next few years. Similar to what Codemasters has done with DD:O and Lotro.
What Say You?
In the end I think Blizzard has a couple of good years left in WoW. How other MMO’s will affect the player base… We’ll have to wait and see. Heck even Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3, Blizzards own games will more than likely steal some of WoW’s players. As for being “killed off” I think it’s still too early in the game to be thinking about that.
What are your feelings about the longevity of WoW? Are you here to stay or is the grass looking greener on the other side? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.Eulixe