It's All About the Benjamins

Until now I have resisted the urge to write about World of Warcraft, but after reading about Blizzard’s 1.2B (yes that is Billions) in revenue in 2007, I could not resist any further. World of Warcraft is the first MMO to 10 Million subscribers, which I feel has allowed it to succeed where no other MMO has before, and that is in popular culture. It has infiltrated our lives from bumper stickers, to t-shirts, books, computers, non-video games, and jewelry. The list does not stop there and I am sure more World of Warcraft stuff is in the works. It is a David and Goliath story, except Goliath keeps getting bigger and David is stuck without a rock. World of Warcarft has become the iPod, the hula hoop, and wonder bread all in one, with no end to the gravy train in sight.

But we also cannot deny that World of Warcraft is the big bully on the block that is just constantly taking the lunch money from those who are weaker. Somehow Blizzard has created the Canon of MMORPGs and with that carved a huge majority chunk of the MMO market. Will Blizzard be able to maintain such a strangle hold? With so many new games on the horizon, can Funcom, EA Mythic, or any of the other MMO studios have a chance to dethrone Warcraft? With an expansion on the way (and another every year until the end of time) I do not see World of Warcraft slowing anytime soon, but I am very interested to see what happens in the coming years. What are your thoughts?

Please keep it civil. Thank you.


  1. I deny that WoW is the big bully on the block that is constantly taking lunch money from those who are weaker, that IMO is a misunderstanding of the economics of the market.

    As you note, WoW has brought in subscriber numbers that I think were beyond most people’s realistic expectations. They have raised the public’s awareness of computer games and MMORPGs, brought certain elements of it into popular culture. So despite the fact that they do have a dominant market share, but don’t let that obscure the economic reality that they have greatly expanded the market for MMORPGs. Maybe it will be some time before WoW is “dethroned”, but in the interim other MMORPGs can take advantage of those for whom WoW was the gateway. Just last night in LoTRO I was in a mid-level group with a minstrel who was new to LoTRO, having left WoW.

    LoTRO, and other MMORPGs, benefits from WoW’s success because it is easier to draw users who are already into MMORPGs but are looking for something new than it is to interest someone who has never been into MMORPGs (or computer games) before. WoW’s easy interface and addictive gameplay makes WoW one of the great gateways to PC gaming. Of course it’s not the worlds deepest gameplay experience, but that’s not what being a gateway is about.

    The success of WoW and the tendency for a variety of WoW players to eventually seek alternative MMORPGs makes the market more palatable for content producers. It is likely that some of the MMORPGs we are most looking forward to would never have been green-lit but for the companies and financiers behind them hoping to taste a piece of the WoW success story.

    For those of us who enjoy other MMORPGs, we should cheer Blizzard for their continuing success, and for the success of whoever dethrones them, because it expands the pie for everyone.

  2. What I meant to say, and really could have said better, was that WoW has such a huge market share that many new MMOs cannot get a word in edgewise. This is not by any device of Blizzard’s other than their own success, and as you point out can and should be applauded for bringing many new faces into the MMO world. But at the same time, the media focuses so hard on WoW (and by media I mean non-MMO media, such as TV news, etc.) that other games are hard to find. It is a catch-22 in a way.
    Also, while some may look to other games after being “bored” of WoW, the huge success of their system sometimes prohibits newer ideas from being made in order to please a certain crowd. Again, a catch-22.
    To finish, thank you for your comment, not only did you not flame me, but you really added to the conversation. Exactly what I was trying to achieve.

  3. btw if you click through to my web page (I can’t figure out why I’m still using Gleemax for gaming blogging), you’ll see I linked through to this post and also that I got a couple of comments back, which is pretty unusual for one of my blog posts on Gleemax.

    Can you guys set up the comments section so it displays link-backs from people who link to a blog post? Sometimes you can find worthwhile sites of similar interest that way.

  4. With all the billions that WOW makes you think that they would spend some of their money on upgrading their 10 year old servers but no. As a result more and more people leave the game and start playing other games. Its only a matter of time before another game dethroned the bully. The best thing about this is that WOW will have themselves to blame for this. Isn’t this ironic? :D

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