Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Sir Bruce's E3 MMOG report
"Sir" Bruce Sterling Woodcock did an excellent write-up of the MMOG games presented at the 2006 E3. So if you want to know what the MMORPGs of 2007+ will be, Sir Bruce's report gives you a good idea which games to look forward to.
Sir Bruce is more famous for his MMOGChart.com data on MMORPG subscriber numbers. Unfortunately his last data are from November, and could use some updating. But if you look at the chart of games with more than 120k subscribers, it becomes clear why nobody bothers to look at the numbers any more. Just mentally update the number of WoW subscribers to 6.5 million, and then consider that the only two other games with more than 1 million subscribers are the two Lineage games, which only have a tiny market share in the western world. World of Warcraft is the Microsoft of MMORPGs, with a market share that makes all the other games subscriber numbers look like background noise.
On the one side the millions of dollars that WoW made are certainly encouraging some companies to develop a MMORPG. But on the other side the complete dominance and near-monopoly of World of Warcraft isn't a healthy situation. It doesn't exactly encourage Blizzard to improve the game's shortcomings, or to add content at a faster rate. And there is a risk that other game companies hold the wrong parts of WoW responsible for the game's success. So instead of saying "we need a well-programmed game with lots of quests and content, accessible to many people", they might come to much shallower (and wrong) analysis like "the market wants elves and orcs".
Of course the WoW monopoly won't last forever, just like the dominance of Everquest didn't last forever. But in Sir Bruce's E3 line-up I fail to identify a "WoW-Killer". There are some nice games I would like to try, but nothing remotely likely to get even a million subscribers in the USA and Europe.