Warcraft, Other MMO Games’ Massive Woes
Warcraft, Other MMO Games’ Massive Woes, Just a few years ago, massively multiplayer online games were seen as the future of gaming. Is the MMO dying?, Just a few short years ago, massively-multiplayer online games (MMOs) were considered the future of gaming.
Virtually every publisher was running one, building one, or contemplating one. A lot of those failed. A few struggled along with small but loyal audiences. And all of them acknowledged that they lived under the shadow of perennial champ World of Warcraft.
These days, though, massively-multiplayer online worlds are beset by bad news. World of Warcraft lost 1.1 million customers in the last three months. It’s lost 2 million in the past year. Meanwhile, EA’s highly anticipated entry in the field — Star Wars: The Old Republic — failed to take off, with subscriptions dropping to under 1 million last quarter. It was an incredibly rapid drop from the 2 million subscriber peak of earlier this year.
With these two behemoths having serious issues, is the entire genre on the outs? Not necessarily, but it’s definitely changing — and that could be great news for consumers who have grown sick and tired of forking over monthly fees for online games.
The Old Republic, in fact, will be turned into a free to play games later this year. A year ago, that move would have been unthinkable. EA spent $200 million to develop The Old Republic with the expectation it would be the first serious competitor to World of Warcraft. Given the pedigree of Bioware and the popularity of the Star Wars franchise, that seemed within the realm of possibility. But a weak player vs. player component and easily attained level caps hurt the game. And as players began to leave, so did their friends, causing a slippery slope that led to the drop-off.
In addition to lowering the retail price of The Old Republic to $15 and adding a free-to-play option, Bioware is pledging to speed up the pace of expansions — a vow that sounds a lot like the one Blizzard made a year ago, when World of Warcraft subscriptions began to decline.