103: WoW's Magic Number

"The expected WoW refugee trickle-down has stubbornly refused to materialize. As a conservative estimate, it is safe to assume that in any given month, 5 percent of WoW's player base cancels their accounts. Where do these people go? Some undoubtedly dive back into the MMOG pool and spread out among the infinite titles floating around, but at 5 percent, that means there are roughly 425,000 WoW refugees milling about every month. But 425,000 people aren't playing new games each month. WoW just doesn't grow the genre."

Dana Massey explores why, although WoW may be a genre killer, it's not a genre grower.

WoW's Magic Number

Being one who has played many an MMO, and who has played and left WoW, I am still, to this day, flabbergasted at WoW's popularity. I have many friends who have gone from general video game consumers to WoW-only zealots (one friend has a saying: "If it's not WoW, it's meh"), and I frequently ask them what it is that they do once they reach the "end game". More often then not, when they vocalize their answer, their faces reveal that their explaination doesn't even make much sense TO THEM.

Blizzard is good at stripping out complexity from a genre, putting a face on what remains, and in keeping the ball rolling long after it should have stopped. Diablo is not complex to pick up, but doesn't have a lot of depth. Any of their xCraft series RTS are the same. WoW, in the end, is no different: simplistic gameplay, no fluff (simple tradeskills, no ownable objects except mounts), but a very well done presentation and an uncanny ability to make players believe that even at the level cap, there's something new around the corner.

Of course, it's also hard to let go of your hard work. I would think that WoW is the first Western MMO in which the majority of it's subscribership has reached the level cap. Traditionally, the way for playes to alleviate a lack of progression after end-game content is to roll a new alt, but after several years of leveling one or maybe more characters to the cap, switching to a totally new and "non WoW" game to start from absolute scratch is probably horrifying for many, especially those for whom WoW is their first MMO.

The overall issue with non-WoW titles, though, is that every one released is either A) cast in the role of "potential WoW killer" or B) is reviewed in an article in which the obligatory WoW reference is added. No MMO can get out of WoW's shadow because the community and the press won't allow them to. I can't open an issue of GFW magazine without a WoW reference on every single page. I don't know how many MMOs have simply buckled under comparasons to WoW, although I suspect that the number is quite high. This makes Turbine's success with LotRO all the more poignent: not only are they constantly compared to WoW, but they have succeeded despite it. Add to that the fact that LotRO was completed but STILL spent time offline "for polishing", compared to something like Vanguard which ran over budget and out of time (a typical MMO "rush-job").

" it is safe to assume that in any given month, 5 percent of WoW's player base cancels their accounts. Where do these people go? Some undoubtedly dive back into the MMOG pool and spread out among the infinite titles floating around, but at 5 percent, that means there are roughly 425,000 WoW refugees milling about every month."

How is it safe to assume 5% of WoW players cancel their account every month? It looks to me as if you pulled that number straight of thin air. It seems instead to be a ridiculously unjustified assumption. The entire basis of your article is garbage.

Further, WoW does not have and never has had 8.5 million SUBSCRIBERS. What they have is 8.5 million ACCOUNTS. Some of those accounts (who knows how many) have already been cancelled, but remain in storage and can be reactivated at any time. Take into account as well that some people will have multiple accounts.

Expecting 425,000 WoW players to join new games every month is insane. The idea that it would even be possible indicates a complete disconnect from reality. Exactly the same way, saying that WoW HASN'T "grown the genre" is flabbergasting. Millions of people who never played an MMO played WoW, even if they only played for a few months and never played an MMO again. Games came into existence based on WoW's success, and more will come out because of WoW's success. No one has tried anything new yet because of WoW, but they will.

Romothecus:
How is it safe to assume 5% of WoW players cancel their account every month? It looks to me as if you pulled that number straight of thin air. It seems instead to be a ridiculously unjustified assumption. The entire basis of your article is garbage.

That number was based on research we did into trends for game subscriptions and the usual historical number of cancellations a game sees each month. It was presented as a very cautious estimate. I likely could have phrased where that number came from a little more clearly though, I'll give you that.

Romothecus:
Further, WoW does not have and never has had 8.5 million SUBSCRIBERS. What they have is 8.5 million ACCOUNTS. Some of those accounts (who knows how many) have already been cancelled, but remain in storage and can be reactivated at any time. Take into account as well that some people will have multiple accounts.

That's not true at all. To quote Blizzard's own material: "World of Warcraft's worldwide subscriber base now numbers more than 8.5 million and is continuing to grow as new and returning players join existing players in the game."

Yes, subscribers does not mean individual people, but they do have 8.5 million + active accounts that pay. There are still 8.5 million subscriptions to be had or lost, even if there are not 8.5 million unique people.

Romothecus:
Expecting 425,000 WoW players to join new games every month is insane. The idea that it would even be possible indicates a complete disconnect from reality.

Of course not everyone who cancels an account immediately subscribes to another game, but 425,000 is 5% (our conservative estimate) of 8.5 million. That means there are 425,000 accounts who find themselves not paying 12 bucks a month to someone every month.

Do I expect them all to go somewhere else? No, obviously not. But the point was that the math doesn't support even a decent number of them going anywhere else. Thus the core thesis, that WoW players are not "MMO players".

Romothecus:
Exactly the same way, saying that WoW HASN'T "grown the genre" is flabbergasting. Millions of people who never played an MMO played WoW, even if they only played for a few months and never played an MMO again. Games came into existence based on WoW's success, and more will come out because of WoW's success. No one has tried anything new yet because of WoW, but they will.

Maybe they will, but again, you're missing the thesis. My whole argument is that to date WoW players have not translated into players of other MMO as people had hoped.

Even if the 8.5 million accounts aren't all individual people, I think it's safe to assume that there are at least 6 million individual people playing WoW. Now consider this: the population of the Earth is approximately 6 billion.

That means 1 in every 1000 people plays WoW. 1 in every 1000 people _in the world_.

That's pretty scary.

I personally played WoW for about a month, got to level 65 and got kind of bored. I'll probably head back in some day to hit the level cap and whatnot, but monthly subscription fees just aren't my cup of tea.

lepidus:

Romothecus:
How is it safe to assume 5% of WoW players cancel their account every month? It looks to me as if you pulled that number straight of thin air. It seems instead to be a ridiculously unjustified assumption. The entire basis of your article is garbage.

That number was based on research we did into trends for game subscriptions and the usual historical number of cancellations a game sees each month. It was presented as a very cautious estimate. I likely could have phrased where that number came from a little more clearly though, I'll give you that.

"Usual historical number"? Excuse me, but how many case studies and data points do we actually have for that? Warcraft is a virtually unprecedented phenomenon. There is nothing to compare it to. Warcraft exceeded EQ's success in a matter of months, and trying to compare cancellation rates of WoW to any other game like AO or Matrix Online or even AC would be misleading. There is nothing to compare WoW to in the North American market, and certainly not in Europe where the entire MMO market was estimated at about 250,000 pre-WoW. There is no usual historical pattern for MMOs yet. We don't even have a good sense of the lifespan of an MMO yet.

Romothecus:
Further, WoW does not have and never has had 8.5 million SUBSCRIBERS. What they have is 8.5 million ACCOUNTS. Some of those accounts (who knows how many) have already been cancelled, but remain in storage and can be reactivated at any time. Take into account as well that some people will have multiple accounts.

That's not true at all. To quote Blizzard's own material: "World of Warcraft's worldwide subscriber base now numbers more than 8.5 million and is continuing to grow as new and returning players join existing players in the game."

Yes, subscribers does not mean individual people, but they do have 8.5 million + active accounts that pay. There are still 8.5 million subscriptions to be had or lost, even if there are not 8.5 million unique people.

Well, let's keep in mind Blizzard's definition of subscriber:

World of Warcraft subscribers include individuals who have paid a subscription fee or have an active prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access. Internet Game Room players who have accessed the game over the last thirty days are also counted as subscribers.

Romothecus:
Expecting 425,000 WoW players to join new games every month is insane. The idea that it would even be possible indicates a complete disconnect from reality.

Of course not everyone who cancels an account immediately subscribes to another game, but 425,000 is 5% (our conservative estimate) of 8.5 million. That means there are 425,000 accounts who find themselves not paying 12 bucks a month to someone every month.

Except, as you point out, only about 2.5 - 4 million of those people are actually in NA anyway. Probably 3-4 million alone are in China playing in cafes, not paying subscription fees at all. Their disposable MMO income doesn't exist - why aren't you looking for the 125,000 - 250,000 North Americans who quit WoW every month (assuming your 5% figure is even accurate)?

Do I expect them all to go somewhere else? No, obviously not. But the point was that the math doesn't support even a decent number of them going anywhere else. Thus the core thesis, that WoW players are not "MMO players".

Maybe Average Joe never was an MMO player and never would have tried MMOs, but all his office buddies started playing it. Average Joe tries WoW, hates the entire concept of a persistent world that doesn't stay frozen when he's offline, and quits. Average Joe is never going to try another persistent-world game - this isn't WoW's fault, it's the genre. Certainly WoW failed to capture a new MMO player there, but then again, the only reason Average Joe even TRIED WoW was because all his buddies were playing it.

We can argue hypotheticals like this all day. Part of my annoyance at this article is that it operates on a thesis that is impossible to disprove. You're making a fluffy qualitative claim about the nature of millions of people.

Another possibility I think you're discounting is that when these WoW-quitters do start playing another game, they actually just pick up WoW again - I've quit WoW twice. I've seen dozens of people return after long absences. I've tried other MMOs in the meantime, which leads me to another point you've failed to consider seriously.

Other MMOs are bad games. LoTRO is a primarily a refugee camp for WoW players. I played it for a few months and was left with the distinct impression that I was playing a total conversion mod of WoW (with less interesting, more generic-looking graphics). I've played Eve Online for several months - if you'd like to see a game designed specifically to keep new players out, Eve Online is a beautiful example (probably why people aren't signing up for it in droves). I played World War II Online - enough said there. I played A Tale in the Desert, which was fun but so far "out of the box" that it's inability to succeed on a large scale should have been obvious.

When someone makes an MMO worth playing, people will play it. So far I have seen only games with inherently flawed designs or overbearing influence from WoW. I am optimistic about new games, because when there is a new game there which actually deserves playing there will be millions of people ready to play it.

An upcoming MMO was always one of the most popular topic among my warcraft guilds. WoW players are DESPERATELY looking for a new MMO that strikes the proper balance between including proven design techniques from WoW and innovation. And the market is well aware of that need - there are so many MMOs in development right now, it just seems ludicrous to say that WoW hasn't been a godsend to the MMO genre, particularly since your argument seems to be based on mathematical leger de main.

Edit: apparently this software hates accented characters.

Romothecus,

The 5% is a guess, I freely admit it, which is why we didn't over state it in the article. I would like to point out though that it was a very safe estimate and most MMOs are higher.

You do raise a very valid point about the Chinese players, but still, I'd argue that even if you only consider North Americans and Europeans, there is little evidence that any significant number of WoW players are branching out. As you point out, many resubscribe, which keeps WoW's numbers from stagnating (as their own info admits).

For game design, sure, you have a lot of valid points, but design was not the thrust of this article. Good or bad design, I argued that they don't even likely know they exist.

LotRO did a decent job on the mechanics, but they are also the only one to learn even a fraction of the marketing lessons.

You mention your experience in WoW and other MMOs and frankly, you know about this website. That to me tells me you're not in the crowd I was talking about. There is no doubt that simple word of mouth brings "WoW fans" into the "MMO fan" sphere and has a positive impact, but to do this on a massive scale you need the guys who really pay the bills. Casual players. Players who don't belong to guilds. These are the guys that make up the millions of people, not us.

I would like to point out though that it was a very safe estimate and most MMOs are higher.

Again, my position is that there are no "safe estimate[s]" for MMOs yet. The genre is still in its infancy. WoW is totally unprecedented in total worldwide subs as well as speed of growth. Sure, there were plenty of less successful MMOs prior to WoW. That doesn't provide even one datum about WoW, and WoW is quantifiably different than other MMOs, for all sorts of reasons. Remember that in the months following WoW's release, there were massive hardware load problems and server overcrowding. Why? Because they were doing almost exactly what you are doing - estimating potential subs based on previous games. The idea that WoW could have had 3 million NA subs would have been laughed at. Given that, I think there is plenty of reason to be extremely suspicious about extrapolating a 5% monthly cancellation rate for WoW.

Think about this: in June 2006 WoW had about 6.5 million subs. In January 2007 they had 8 million subs; in other words, they grew by 250,000 subs per month over 6 months. You're trying to tell me they did that while simultaneously losing 5% of their subs every month? So actual growth wasn't even just 250,000 per month, but, for example, in the month of July 2006, they found 575,000 new people and signed them up? And that they did even more than that every month for the next 6 months?

Sorry, but that's just ludicrous. I'm too tired to do the math, but could someone calculate how long it would have been until they cycled through the entire population of North America, China, and Europe?

Given WoW's growth rate, the idea that 300,000 people (or more!!! given your "conservative estimate") are canceling EVERY MONTH is completely insane. People are not canceling that quickly, end of story, and it is downright foolish to think that it is the case with nothing more than "previous MMOs" to provide analagous anecdotal extrapolation.

but to do this on a massive scale you need the guys who really pay the bills. Casual players. Players who don't belong to guilds. These are the guys that make up the millions of people, not us.

I'm probably on much thinner ice here, but I reject this entire notion of "casual" versus "hardcore" or "raiding" or "guilded". Things just go slower the so-called "casual" players, but they still eventually get to all the content - Tigole had some interesting statistics about this. Eventually most everyone does get to all content. The "casual" players just do it much slower - but they do eventually raid and see everything, and the vast majority of people are guilded.

Certainly they make up the millions of people - but they're not the people quitting, either. In my experience (anecdotal of course) people quit WoW because 1) they are burnt out on raiding (completely anticasual) or because they just don't have time to play WoW, or any MMO, anymore (usually due to lifestyle changes like marriage, school, military, etc) - in other words, casuals.

For the casuals, WoW is going to take a long time to become "old" and "played out". They don't quit WoW because they don't need a new MMO, they're plenty happy with the one they have.

Romothecus:
Again, my position is that there are no "safe estimate[s]" for MMOs yet. The genre is still in its infancy. WoW is totally unprecedented in total worldwide subs as well as speed of growth. Sure, there were plenty of less successful MMOs prior to WoW.

MMOs have been in existence for over 10 years. How long do markets need to be in existence for patterns to emerge?

Lineage had over 30 MILLION subscribers back in 1999. Over 3 times as much as WoW. Sure, the markets are slightly different, but if you can't compare these markets, you can't compare any. Or is that what you're trying to claim?

I play about 20-30 hours of games a week, I'm hardly what one would call "casual".

And I quit WoW because it was BORING and a ridiculous time sink. I played 395 hours of that game over a 6 month period, just over 2 hours a day - and never reached any end game. I got to level 47 with my hunter and was just sick of the grind.

I DID look for another MMO - 9Dragons didn't do much for me, but LOTRO interested me enough to become a founder.

Sure, I might be the exception, but that's at least one exception to your anecdotal experience.

FunkyJ:

Romothecus:
Again, my position is that there are no "safe estimate[s]" for MMOs yet. The genre is still in its infancy. WoW is totally unprecedented in total worldwide subs as well as speed of growth. Sure, there were plenty of less successful MMOs prior to WoW.

MMOs have been in existence for over 10 years. How long do markets need to be in existence for patterns to emerge?

Well, think about this. Theater films have been around for close to a century. Broadcast television is about half a century old in America. In internet time, I'm sure 10 years seems like an eternity. Please try to keep reality in mind; it takes 3-5 years to bring an MMO to market. How many companies have even had a chance to make two MMOs yet, maybe two or three?

Lineage had over 30 MILLION subscribers back in 1999. Over 3 times as much as WoW.

That 30 million number has been debunked so many times I can't believe you're actually trying to sincerely post it.

I play about 20-30 hours of games a week, I'm hardly what one would call "casual".

Did I call you "casual"? No, I didn't. Actually, I remember saying that the labels "casual" and "hardcore" are not that useful.

And I quit WoW because it was BORING and a ridiculous time sink. I played 395 hours of that game over a 6 month period, just over 2 hours a day - and never reached any end game. I got to level 47 with my hunter and was just sick of the grind.

Um... I'm sorry? Although I am extremely impressed that you managed to level so slowly that you could complain about a grind in the least "grindy" MMO ever made.

I DID look for another MMO - 9Dragons didn't do much for me, but LOTRO interested me enough to become a founder.

Sure, I might be the exception, but that's at least one exception to your anecdotal experience.

Well thanks for your contribution. You know I was really expecting that my unsupported generalizations would hold true for all 8.5 million people that play Warcraft right now, but I guess you have shattered my perspective by proving that my hypothesis was indeed not a hermetically-sealed tank of absolute logic.

Romothecus:
Again, my position is that there are no "safe estimate[s]" for MMOs yet. The genre is still in its infancy. WoW is totally unprecedented in total worldwide subs as well as speed of growth. Sure, there were plenty of less successful MMOs prior to WoW. That doesn't provide even one datum about WoW, and WoW is quantifiably different than other MMOs, for all sorts of reasons. Remember that in the months following WoW's release, there were massive hardware load problems and server overcrowding. Why? Because they were doing almost exactly what you are doing - estimating potential subs based on previous games. The idea that WoW could have had 3 million NA subs would have been laughed at. Given that, I think there is plenty of reason to be extremely suspicious about extrapolating a 5% monthly cancellation rate for WoW.

WoW has done many things, but I think, as the next poster pointed out, 10 years of data is enough to make an educated guess for the sake of argument and be reasonably confident that it's in the right time zone.

Romothecus:
Think about this: in June 2006 WoW had about 6.5 million subs. In January 2007 they had 8 million subs; in other words, they grew by 250,000 subs per month over 6 months. You're trying to tell me they did that while simultaneously losing 5% of their subs every month? So actual growth wasn't even just 250,000 per month, but, for example, in the month of July 2006, they found 575,000 new people and signed them up? And that they did even more than that every month for the next 6 months?

Sorry, but that's just ludicrous. I'm too tired to do the math, but could someone calculate how long it would have been until they cycled through the entire population of North America, China, and Europe?

If there are 2.25 million subscribers in North America, that's 112,500 cancellations per month.

North America (defined here, inaccurately, as US and Canada) has 334,530,088 people.

For fun, let's say they replace them fully and then double the number of cancellations in any given month. That's 225,000 new subscribers in North America. For fun, let's make it 300,000. Divide that into the population of North America and assuming no one ever resubscribed or had multiple accounts... It would take 1115 months for everyone to try WoW. To save you the math, that's nearly 93 years.

So no. I don't think those numbers are insane.

Romothecus:
I'm probably on much thinner ice here, but I reject this entire notion of "casual" versus "hardcore" or "raiding" or "guilded". Things just go slower the so-called "casual" players, but they still eventually get to all the content - Tigole had some interesting statistics about this. Eventually most everyone does get to all content. The "casual" players just do it much slower - but they do eventually raid and see everything, and the vast majority of people are guilded.

Your second part of the argument basically says WoW is good enough for everyone. WoW grabbed maketshare, but no large group of people agrees on everything. I think its naive to say that all those casual players are happy with their WoW experience and would not like to try something in the same vein, but different.

Ultimately though, this second argument just comes down to your rejection of that one stat. If you accept that people are leaving, then you have to wonder where they're going. If you don't think that number of people are leaving, then well, this point is moot.

I admit and agree it's insanely hard to get people to cancel one game for the next. I am only talking about those people who are already out the door or on their way out.
And regardless of your views on my 5% number, you have to admit that simply by virtue of scale, WoW certainly loses more people in a month than most MMOs have total subscribers. Even 1%, which would be insane churn Blizzard would kill for, is still 85,000 subscribers leaving the game.

Romothecus: IMHO, part of what the article was trying to point out was that WoW is not your typical MMO. That WoW is not growing the MMO market as a whole, because it sort of created a new market, which other MMO's are having difficulty tapping. They will, eventually, but it will be a significant shift for the MMO scene as a whole. I was about to go into a long, fairy-tale like example of flying cars vs. flying horses, and how the horse breeders failed to see that cars are not horses, but it was getting long, and would've angered you anyway, so I'm deleting it. This is, of course, not to say that the industry of flying horses (traditional MMOs) is not analogous to the industry of flying cars (WoWlikes). We might still be able to apply observations from each, but it requires that we stop and recognize that they might not be the same industry, even if they appeal to an overlapping userbase.

Another point I felt worth bringing up is in regards to the accounts vs. people aspect of this discussion. (BTW, lepidus already made a similar response earlier, but you've chosen to ignore the clarification. Let's try again, shall we?) What do I, as a business owner, care for whether its one person with 4 paying accounts, or 4 people with 1 account each? If there are 2 people with the desire to run 4 accounts simultaneously (across multiple MMOs, or in one), the market is 8 accounts, not 2 people. If it were 4 people with 2 each, or 8 people with one each, the market is still 8 accounts, and that's what matters. We don't measure most markets by the number of unique people partaking, we measure them in relevant units. Most of the time, that's $s. Since MMO accounts are nigh-directly convertible to cash, we might use "accounts" when discussing them. On this point, if we say that there are people with 4 potential accounts, and they have 4 of them in WoW, and they decide to keep 3, cancel 1, and go try something else, then we've just added 1 potential account to the open market to be snatched up, either back into WoW, or into another MMO. This aspect of accounts!=people makes your entire rant about calculating how long it will take to go through the entire populations of the various markets moot. If we go back through the whole 5% debate, replacing "people/person/users" with "accounts", and allow that those 5% enter an open market, in which WoW is competing with all of the other MMOs to claim part of the market, then we might account for A. people using multiple MMOs somewhat simultaneously, B. people cancelling WoW accounts only to return after short breaks, and C. a decent portion of the people trying out new MMOs and generally moving around.

Furthermore, in internet time, in the information age, 10 years is a long time. We have access to so much more data about userbases and market penetration than we did in the first 10 years of the film industry, or the first ten years of the television industry. You could argue that we may not know how to interpret that data accurately. But to compare the first 10 years of each of those industries is to ignore their extreme differences as entertainment media. You also argue that WoW has not been around long enough to make educated guesses about their cancellation rates, etc, but at what point in time is Blizzard EVER going to open their books to us and give us an accurate picture of their subscriber base? I see no reason not to make educated guesses based on the information we have at present.

On a side note, I would check your cereal tomorrow morning if I were you. I think someone's been urinating in it. (See what I did there? It's a form of conversational terrorism: questioning your level-headed-ness to bring into question the soundness of your arguments. Nifty, eh?)

With WoW, Blizzard made an MMO without the bizarre usability deficiencies that every other MMO before it had, and they marketed it to people who don't read video game websites. That's all. The basic MMO formula is attractive and addictive enough that it doesn't require any changes in order to hook a person. All they did is put it in an interface that doesn't fight against the player.

The level at which all MMOs are the same is not a very deep one. Blizzard recognized this and made a game that provides the purest fix with the least hassle. If you quit WoW, it's because you're sick of the MMO model, period. You're not going to try one of its competitors.

The way to attract WoW refugees is not to provide the same thing (though I am grateful that they're trying, because it means there's finally a reasonable expectation of a decent UI for MMOs). You need to find out what made them quit, and make them a game that fixes that.

If they quit because it was an emotionally draining commitment, then there's single-player games. They'll always wait for you.

If they quit because it was too expensive, there's free games, by which I mean there's Dungeon Runners. NCSoft's got the right idea with that one, I'm afraid.

If they quit because it's an uninteresting timesink on a sixty-level treadmill, then I suppose there's games of the EVE or Planetside model, where time spent does not equal advancement.

Marketing is also an issue - for every WoW refugee not committed to giving up games altogether, there's a game for him. He just doesn't know about it.

@ Romothecus

Exactly the same way, saying that WoW HASN'T "grown the genre" is flabbergasting. Millions of people who never played an MMO played WoW, even if they only played for a few months and never played an MMO again. Games came into existence based on WoW's success, and more will come out because of WoW's success. No one has tried anything new yet because of WoW, but they will.

This is not growing a genre. This is just growing the market. Essentially, WoW does nothing more than rehash the same old stuf with a minimal set of well-tied and polished simple rules. This makes it accessible, but extremely superficial, much more than the already average and stagnant pool of MMOs.
Well, anyway, to my eyes, this genre is just uninteresting and blight, a pure waste of time, and you can't even count on the studios which have the bucks to make it evolve... to even do it.
Well, why would they do, when you see how many people just ask for the same **** on and on?

MMOs are just like cigarettes.

@Arbre

How can you say that `WoW does nothing more than rehash the same old stuff with a minimal set of well-tied and polished simple rules`? Exactly that`s the problem, the polish and the simple rules for any kind of games. I think that every game developer should know that is nothing new under the sun and over estimated egos have no place in this kind of business.

Did you enjoyed the `difficulty` of Anarchy Online, where you had to spent 112193 skill points at level one? And again to call WoW superficial might be a very big mistake, especially when it tends to be the very first successful MMO as an e-sport.

I`m sure that Blizzard learned the lesson with WoW and the next MMO will be the first game in `next gen` MMOs.

It's the same ol' hack n' slash with glorified chat rooms tripe.
It works fine for the first time you discover the OMG-DATZ-KEWL wonders of the MMORPG genre, and then you become incredibly blas├©, both because of the samey game mechanics and the audiences.

My main gripe, and that's a naïve one, for sure, is that Blizzard is a powerful company. It already was even before WoW.
Shouldn't those who have the power to do it, challenge genres and explore new directions?
There's a battery of much more conceptual, or even traditional MMOs, trying to implement more profound, complex or simply untertaining systems which are either social related, or which aim at making the server's world something that's a thousand times more living and evolutive than what it's now.

To my mind, one of the principal reasons for the size of WoW's player base is the fact that it is soloing friendly. I have cancelled subscriptions to Vanguard, Dungeons & Dragons Online and Everquest II because they afforded virtually no opportunity to solo.

 

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