Blizzard Entertainment is arguably the "king of the MMO hill" right now. In a new column, we take a look at potential next steps for the gaming giant. See what you think and then add your comments to the mix. Love 'em or hate 'em, those guys and gals at Blizzard are still the incumbent monarchs of the MMORPG realm. World of Warcraft is now heading into its eighth year of existence, and with a few minor bumps on the road of subscription, the game is still holding firm with just under ten million loyal players.
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- Member Since: April 26, 2012
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- Member Since: May 19, 2012
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I think Blizzard will continue to try and shore up its user base by skewing the game toward younger players and Asian cultures, The teens who took up WoW eight years ago have now come of age, are looking for more mature fare and handing down older gaming rigs to younger siblings or kids of their own. The success of WoW and failure of SWTOR shows that the audience for mass-market MMOs is broad but shallow; there probably isn't capacity for another WoW-sized game to achieve the same level of success, and certainly not one based on the subscription pricing model. The best Blizzard can hope for is to staunch the bleeding until the inevitable hot next-generation MMO appears to cannibalize what remains of WoW's subscriber base. Ideally, I'm sure they'd like that game to come from Blizzard itself: WoW2, or World of Starcraft, perhaps.
- Member Since: December 2, 2003
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Blizzard chief operating officer Paul Sams has stated that Blizzard will continue to provide content for WoW for several more expansions after Mists of Pandaria. The subcriber count seems to be dropping fairly quickly now, but it always bounces back up when a new expansion is released. Taking into account this cyclical nature of the subscriber's coming and going, it becomes apparent that the numbers are actually only dropping slowly. Still, the numbers now are lower than they were just before the release of Wrath of the Lich King. I estimate there will still be 5+ million subscribers when expansions 5 and 6 hit. Blizzard might choose to invest (slightly) less manpower in future expansions though, as the game's age is showing, players are slowly leaving and the manpower might be required in the development of other titles.
To speculate at the theme of the next expansions would mostly be a waste of time since Blizzard has always kept this information under wraps pretty tightly. We've had expansions focussing on the demons, followed by the undead and the Dragon Aspects and now with Mists it seems the Horde / Human conflict will at be the center of attention. They've used the most prominent threats in the lore now I think and it will take some creativity for Blizzard to come up with the next theme. As mongob is saying above:More and more players are coming from the Far East, and the game is now populated by a new generation of players after the original subscribers left. This is already being reflected in the game's current design aswell as the themes in Mists of Pandaria, and we might see this direction continuing in the future. Still, Blizzard is making sure to also provide challenging content for its hardcore crowd as they always have.
In the meantime they're still not giving us anything new on Titan, Blizzard's next MMO. Though they have said that this upcoming game will be different enough from WoW to not directly compete with it. Rumours are saying it might be an MMOFPS but this hasn't been confirmed. Blizzcon will not be happening in 2012 so I'm not expecting this new game to be announced this year. At Blizzcon 2011 it was said that there were 90 developers working on Titan at that time and that it would be going into full production mode in 2012. I'm assuming this means less attention spent on developing WoW, but Blizzard might also just be hiring more people.
For now I'm waiting for SC2: Heart of the Swarm first of all, and I'll be looking forward to the official unveiling of Titan. I'm pretty sure we'll be seeing a Diablo 3 expansion, the second and third parts of Starcraft 2 aswell as yet another WoW expansion before the release of Titan. Let's hope Blizzard will find the time to develop and release all of these games with the level of quality we've come to expect of them.