Monday, August 19, 2013
I tend to have the least popular opinion on the internet, the middle-of-the-road, rational option. So I neither hate World of Warcraft with a passion, nor do I love it very much any more. It is funny how few people can see this 9 year old market leader in a rational light. Instead you get people highly excited about the news that Blizzard trademarked "The Dark Below", which could potentially be the next World of Warcraft expansion. So what? With all due respect for the apparent decision to not add yet another undiscovered continent to Azeroth, there really is no news here. No design decisions have been announced and this could very well be yet another standard expansion with a few more levels and zones which doesn't advance the genre at all.
On the other hand I tend to get annoyed at the constant stream of "WoW is dying" comments. Not because of my love of WoW, but because of my love of math and history, both of which are constantly getting raped here by some people in order to express their hate of World of Warcraft. Where they go wrong is nicely shown if you compare two curves: Bob Flinston of Altaclysmic extrapolating WoW subscription numbers to zero compared with the mathematically and historically correct description of subscription number curves as done by Raph Koster. Read Raph's post! The subscription number curve over time is NOT symmetrical, it declines slower than it ascended. World of Warcraft will not be at zero subscribers in two years.
Expansions of course are one part of the reason why that extrapolation is so wrong. But there is also good old-fashioned inertia. People still play the original Everquest and other games that were released in the previous millennium. There is a very good chance that World of Warcraft will not only be still alive in two years, but will still be the market leader. The natural decline simply isn't that fast, and the contenders are still weak, regardless of the hype for games like Wildstar or EQ Next or TESO. And that isn't taking into account the possible parachute: WoW could stay at many million players for another decade if it went Free2Play at some point. You don't have to like World of Warcraft, but you'd be a fool to dismiss it so easily.