Most thought it would never happen, but now there is definitive proof that World of Warcraft is slowly becoming obsolete. The granddaddy of MMO’s seems to be losing its stride as Activision Blizzard reports that the game saw a 10% drop in subscribers since May, starting at 11.4 million players and trickling down to 10.3 million. This means over 1 million people have stopped playing in the last 6 months. That’s quite a dent in World of Warcraft’s seemingly epic quality armor.
If this indicates an imminent expiration date for the series, the company doesn’t seem to be fazed. The forth expansion, Mists of Pandaria was recently announced and promises plenty of new content. Regardless of expansions, the series has done little to update itself to current standards in gaming, especially graphically. While the colorful, whimsical style of the game is a trademark of the series; it can be overshadowed by next-gen MMOs such as Rift.
Blizzard generally scoffs at competition, but the variety of MMOs has steadily increased since WoW took Everquest’s spot as leader in the genre. Updates and expansions might be too few and far between to keep the interest of current gamers who can simply move on to a competitor when WoW becomes stale. With the influx of free to play games, including recent converts like DC Universe Online, those not wanting to pay monthly fees might be more easily coaxed of their time.
At this point, it might be in Blizzard's best interest to start again from scratch instead of continually resuscitating a 7-year-old game -- and that might be just what they’re doing. Blizzard has a new MMO in the works that they believe will be bigger than WoW, meaning they intend to be their own competition. They clearly have no desire to let anyone else lead, or even attempt to lead, in the MMO market. That’s a helluva business strategy and somewhat grim.
What do you think, readers? Is it time for World of Warcraft to hang up its war banners and move on? What game do you think, or hope, will replace WoW?
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