Is Interest in MMORPGs Fading?

Today over at Tobold’s MMORPG blog, he posted an interesting article stating that he believes there is a general decline in the interest of the MMORPG genre beginning in 2009 when it reached its peak. While I won’t argue with the fact that there has definitely been a decline, I don’t think it’s due to a lack of interest.

Tobold presented two main data points to back up his claim. The first being Google Insights, which can measure search trends over the years and the second being traffic to his blog. While I won’t comment on his website’s traffic, as that could be caused by many different factors, let’s take a look at search trends.

Starting off with Google Insight, you can clearly see below that indeed searches for MMORPG have been on the decline since 2009, however plugging in other search terms can give us some perspective on the rest of the gaming industry.

Using ‘MMO Games’ as a search phrase you can see its been skyrocketing since 2004 and shows no signs of plateauing anytime soon. So while MMORPG has declined, MMO gaming in general is stronger than ever.

Entering general gaming phrases such as ‘video games’, ‘gaming’ and ‘games’ you can see two out of the three have also decline over the last few years and while MMORPG declined much faster, it shows that the entire industry is declining somewhat.

What I believe is causing this decline, is not a lack of interest, but a lack of time and money. The whole world has been in a global recession over the last 3 years and I know if I was struggling and wasn’t a blogger, gaming would probably be the first thing to go, especially if that game had a monthly subscription fee.

For the most part, the general gaming population still thinks that most MMORPGs have monthly subscriptions, so if money is tight, that’s probably the last genre you’ll consider getting into. While you can argue that F2P has become much more popular recently, unless your a MMO gamer you’re probably completely unaware of the trend.

However I do think the genre has hit a slump and it’s no more prevalent┬áthen with Star Wars: The Old Republic being a WoW clone with voice-over. The same game is being pumped out over and over again with a different skin and MMO gamers are getting tired of it. However I think this is a minor factor in the overall decline with the world economy still being the main reason.


  1. I don’t think its a decline..i thin its shift in terminology- semantics. I never type mmorpg out anymore. I just type MMO. Its shorter, simpler, and gets the same results.

  2. @valance. That is the stupidest thing I heard. Go to any website, all gamers (the smart ones, not the 16 year old justin biebers) know that MMO is just a smal group vs. other group, like LoL, FPS, and most arial combat games. That is usually a 3 vs 3 game etc.. with little to NO RPG elements. it is a smaller group. MMORPG includes a virtual world for thousands to log onto. There is a difference between the two. Go to other websites like It is spelled out clearly… MORON! And that IS WHY MMORPG is going down the drain, all the morons are getting PC’s for chrsitmas, so they are going on line to find games inbetween their XBOX sessions and we get a truck load of turds. COmbine that with the fact that 2010 was THE WORST date for MMORPG publishing, patches, mangement, content direction, EVRYTHING got greedy and went to hell. Go to, TENTONHAMMER, MMOHUT, all sites that hold regular “YEARLY MMORPG AWARDS” had SUPER difficult time naming an award for 2010 as the industry was shit. They outright say “2010, the year of nothing special”. And most older games were given the award based on presidency. That being said, yes the market is pissed. And every good game that pops uo (LEgend of Edda, etc..) they close down as the greedy competitors buy up titles (PWE). SIGH… Think Ill buy an XBOX and join the turds.

  3. It’s not terminology. There is a lack of innovation in the MMORPG department lately. MMOs are instance heavy, and very “gamey”. What we have a lack of are open world simulations.

    Even WoW, when it first launched, was far more open world than it is today. People role-played being in a virtual world. Today, the genre is diluded into 15 minute raid “dungeon” skinner boxes. People, like mice, pulling a lever to get a piece of cheese over and over again.

    I think a lot of it has to do with the people getting older and having less time with families to invest time in another world, when their current one is enough work to manage. The younger generation does not have the same taste in video games – they want instant gratification games and care far less about worlds to explore.

  4. Maybe it has something to do with lame content, insulting or crappy graphics and excessive use of repeatable short term content rather than an honest persistent and progressive world and oh yes encouraging players to treat each other badly by rewarding said behavior.

    Players flock to decent looking games only to find they same old repeatable dungeon progression, pvp arenas or gank fest coupled with some kind of currency grind for repeating these task over and over and over. Then they cancel their subs. So called marketing professionals must be mentally challenged cause they sure thing the rest of us are.

    That’s why GW2 is getting so much attention, its promising to be different. We will see.

  5. I dont know about others, but my household, 5 ex-mmo players are all sick of WoW clones. If I wanted to play WoW I would play WoW, not your crappy half-baked copy. WoW has been ouit somethign like 7 years, and there has yet to be any serious compatition or even any real innovation in the genre.
    Hopefully TOR and GW2 bring in some new blood finally. I think even Blizzard sees the threat. The knew year pass thing is proof of that.
    When GW2 and TOR, and hopefully others as well, bring something more than a WoW clone to the table, we will see people caring about MMO’s again. Becasue right now the genre has been nothing but facebook knockoffs turned MMO and WoW clones set on a pay-to-win financial model.

  6. I kind of think the article nailed a key factor, being the troubled economy, but I also think another factor is saturation: seven years ago when WoW came out the total number of noteworthy MMOs was still modest, and one could pick and choose your preferred choice of game. Also, subscription-based MMOs were king then. Cut to seven years later and lots of AAA title MMOs have been forced to go subscription free, and the market is awash with choices. The f2P model may be aimed at making money off of the small portion of players willing to shell out big bucks in the RMT shops, but the vast majority of F2P players, I will bet, simply migrate from one free experience to the next, exhausting the content that they have access to and then moving on; only a small core of diehards will linger and pay. Meanwhile, WoW remains the juggernaut because it’s still the most accessible game out there and the one you’re friends are likeliest to be playing; I do tend to think that other MMOs are probably attracting the more hardcore burned out population of gamers, though; WoW continues to be the mainstream game that is sort of the popular sport/football game of MMOs–it’s the game the jocks play, so to speak (except that analogy broke down a long time ago). Hmmm. WoW is to MMOs what Call of Duty is to FPSes. Yeah.

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