Numerous MMORPGs have come along and attempted to compete with World of Warcraft, but none have managed to attract as many players--or get them to stick around for as long--as Blizzard's nearly 10-year-old game. Despite this track record, Jeremy Gaffney, executive producer at WildStar developer Carbine Studios, thinks we will eventually see an MMO more successful than WoW.
"There will be something bigger [than World of Warcraft] in our lifetimes," he told Develop. Gaffney didn't suggest WildStar, launching June 3, would be the game to manage this. He did however note that, at least player-wise, such games may already exist.
"Depending how you count all the various markets there are games that are arguably bigger now globally, in terms of players," he said. "In terms of revenues, it's tricky to catch up with because you have to be that big and you have to be subscription. You don't usually average $15 a month off your free-to-play game per user."
Many MMOs have been positioned--whether officially or unofficially--as World of Warcraft competitors. Everything from Age of Conan to Warhammer Online to Star Wars: The Old Republic has come onto the market hoping to recreate at least a portion of WoW's success as a subscription-based MMO, and many have gone on to either be shut down or turned into free-to-play games.
Gaffney went on to say that even the biggest MMOs shed subscribers--including WoW, which sits at 7.6 million after topping out at 12 million--and the key then is to not only be able to make up for those losses, but also add new players.
"There's a market out there that's definitely interested in repeating the positive experience they've had with games in the past," he said. "But no one's had the stickiness to really truly hook them in and keep them in any sorts of large numbers since then, so somebody will be able to duplicate that formula."
Outside of World of Warcraft, many of the MMOs that have been able to survive with a subscription fee are those like EVE Online, which set themselves apart from WoW in some way. Carbine is made up of developers who worked on World of Warcarft (among other MMOs), and while it set out to do WoW "right this time," it's also been sure to point out the game is not "just another sci-fi MMO with pretty colors."
Early access to WildStar will be available beginning tomorrow, May 31, for those who preorder. GameSpot will be streaming action from the game in the coming days, so be sure to check out the schedule for when you can tune in to watch.