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 then 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.