I looked at Sir Bruce’s MMO charts, which he hasn’t updated since June, and most fee-based MMOs have been trending downward. They’ve clearly taken a hit from WoW.
The prevailing wisdom has been that WoW will broaden the MMO market, but I wonder if other games are really seeing any benefit from this? Windows helped boost the acceptance of PCs, but at the same time it killed off competing OS’s – the various flavors of DOS, OS/2, etc. Linux is making a bit of a game of it, but probably will never be more than a niche market. I can almost see the same thing happening with MMOs. Just as it would take a major development and marketing effort to make a run at some of the marketshare of Windows, it will take something similar to make a run at WoW’s marketshare.
We’ve seen a few major games launch since WoW and more or less flop – Matrix Online, DND Online, and Auto Assault. City of Villains seems to have mostly sold to the installed CoH base. EQ2 and EQ seem to have the combined subscription numbers of EQ at its height. SWG is limping along, as is DAoC it seems. Archlord is out and making all the noise of a feather dropping into a canyon. Players seem to play WoW or don’t play. They don’t seem to be migrating to other MMO games when they tire of WoW. And I think that when Burning Crusades launches, this will only get reinforced. I expect existing MMOs to take another significant hit when BC comes out.
Is there another million subscriber game coming from someone besides Blizzard? Warhammer Online? I could see it surpassing DAoC. I think it has a chance to lure away some WoW players. BioWare’s MMO in development? They are hoping for a million subscribers, which makes me think they have a license lined up for it, perhaps something KOTOR-related.
For myself, WoW represents such an investment of time that I am really reluctant to invest a lot of time in a new MMO. WoW does a lot more right than wrong as well, so the desire to switch games isn’t really there either – I look with skepticism at other games and think that they probably have more problems than WoW, rather than being an improvement. There’s a very good chance that my next MMO will be another Blizzard game, Starcraft Universe, if that’s what they will call it.
I’m not privy to subscription numbers and the MMO chart is a bit dated now, but it looks to me like WoW is cornering the market rather than expanding it.