It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost seven years since a little game called World of Warcraft launched. Since then, it has continually gained momentum, forging a name for itself as, arguably, the king of MMOs. With expansions adding completely new worlds and most recently, completely overhauling the game’s original content, the title has remained fresh – despite the fact that it’s steadily aging.
Following the release of its most recent expansion, Cataclysm, many people feared that the game could be on its decline with – the simplification of gameplay mechanics splitting the player-base. Despite this, Blizzard has stated that the game isn’t going anywhere. While it may be true that World of Warcraft still has quite a bit of life left in the tank, subscription numbers have started to decline in the past quarter, resting at 11.1 million.
This is far from a death omen for the game, but is still a significant decrease for the title. According to Blizzard President Mike Morhaime, speaking on a conference call during Activision/Blizzard’s second quarter financial release:
“In terms of subscriber growth around the world, what I would say we have seen is that subscribership tends to be seasonal and driven by content updates and so as we are heading further away from an expansion launch, it’s normal to seasoned declines where the team is currently working on our largest content update since Cataclysm and that will hit later this year.”
While there is no doubt that a lull in content can lead to lower subscription numbers, with the release of the most recent content patch, “Rage Of The Firelands,” there has not been a dramatic increase – as normally expected. World of Warcraft may still have numerous years left in its lifespan, but there is no denying that it’s slowing down. With highly anticipated MMOs like The Old Republic, TERA and Guild Wars 2 on the horizon, it will be difficult for Blizzard to maintain World of Warcraft‘s momentum.
This doesn’t mean that there will be a shortage of new content making its way to the MMO though. Morhaime has promised a content patch introducing new end-game dungeon and raid content is on its way – along with the rumored expansion, Mists Of Pandaria. As a fan-favorite race within the Warcraft mythos, the introduction of the Pandaren into World of Warcraft could provide a significant bump in subscribers.
On top of new content, Blizzard is still looking at new markets for the game. With the WoW‘s launch in Brazil coming later this year, it’s likely that the company will continue to try to expand the game into new territories. Regardless, there is no denying that the venerable MMO is beginning to show its age. Even with the inclusion of new content, the introduction of newer, more refined MMOs have slowly been wearing away at the title. It may not be on its deathbed, but World of Warcraft is slowly beginning its decline after years of ruling at the top.
With their next big MMO venture, Titan making its way into view, it’s only a matter of time before something comes along which can manage to overtake World of Warcraft as the king of MMOs.
Do you think that World Of Warcraft has worn out its welcome? Do any of the games ahead on the horizon stand any chance of overtaking its supremacy?