Over the years that WoW has had it’s mega-success very few people have stopped to look at the pieces that have been left in the games wake. It’s very easy to look at the numbers of subscribers and amount of profits they rake in each quarter and claim that the industry as a whole is growing and is very healthy, but is it really? In all of WoW’s success have they almost single handedly killed the industry?
Just to clear things up before I continue, I like WoW. To me, it is a very polished game that was loads of fun. While I don’t currently retain my subscription to it I did play for about 2 years. . . I even had a druid at level 70. Please refrain from calling me a WoW-hating fanboy of another game. All around I am a huge fan of Blizzard. I had to get that out of the way, sorry.
Anyways, back on topic, I am sure if you were to ask a number of developers the primary reason for their games floundering or not acheiving the same level of success as WoW they would blame it on the extraordinary success of the World of Warcraft. So, are these developers just bitter and envious of success, or do they actually hold some merit of truth? Look at it this way: Lord of the Rings Online is often touted as a very successful MMORPG. However, that said, if you look at the recently updated MMOGChart.com website you notice that LoTRO still only has around 300,000 subscribers. This is a far cry from the 10,000,000 that WoW boasts in it’s ever increasing fold. How is a game that is called a “break-out” hit in 2007 only account for 3% of what WoW has?
This, of course, isn’t to say that all industry flops are WoW’s fault. There have been plenty of stinkers released that failed on their own accord. Vanguard launched way to early and as such became known as one of the biggest flops in the history of MMORPGs. WoW had nothing to do with that. However, for games such as Tabula Rasa, and Pirates of the Burning Sea, both decent games that are inherently different from WoW, is the success of the World of Warcraft causing shortages of subscriptions for these games? Probably, both of these games were funded heavily, and launched with hopes to gain a sizable subscriber base to make the games profitable. Unfortunately, I doubt either one is profitable right now, and that only spells out one thing: less investor interest.
My entire point with this article is basically to look at the success of WoW, and the flops of almost every other MMORPG in comparison, with the eyes of an investor. If you had money to sink into an MMORPG property would you, honestly, be willing to take such a gamble? Afterall, the chances are extremely high at this point that the game will not achieve the same level of success as WoW, and as such will never gain the same amount of money. In fact, you probably will never see a return on that investment ever again. . . Is that something you really want to invest money into? Probably not, and I am sure this has turned away at least one investor prior to my writing of this. I guess the only thing we can truly hope for in the de-thronement of WoW into a more stabilized MMO economy by the likes of Warhammer Online and Age of Conan.
Thanks for reading.