A lot has changed since the days of Everquest, Asheron’s Call, and Ultima Online. The MMORPG market today is far larger, and yet, I would argue, far more homogenous than ever. World of Warcraft has certainly expanded the appeal for MMO’s, however its stranglehold on the MMO userbase has been unhealthy for the market, with almost every new IP struggling to survive. For most players, a large player population is the first sign of a healthy MMO. Some players are certainly satisfied with their niche titles, which appeal to player numbering in thousands, not millions. World of Warcraft, however, has proved that mainstream appeal for MMOs is possible.
Even if you don’t want to play WoW, the decision of which online timesink to play these days is largely dependent on which game is least likely to be on life support a year after launch. Many of the other MMOs have been released as “WoW killers”, featuring new IPs, new gameplay modes, etc, some of which have found great niche success, but never to the levels that WoW has enjoyed these past 5 years. I am referring of course to games like Guild Wars (no subscription), Warhammer: Age of Reckoning (PVP centric), and others. I tried several of these titles, yet most lacked much of a competitive advantage to WoW…simply no one can compete with the established userbase and widely recognizeable IP that Blizzard has….no one, except Star Wars: The Old Republic. Continue reading