State of MMORPG's
MMORPG's are a staple of online gaming. Extremely popular, extremely addictive, these games captivate us, enthrall us, and allow us to create an online identity, in a virtual world. We can be wizards and warriors, priest and druids. We can become gnomes or elves or trolls or hobbits. Where does the genre go now? From having roots as far back as ultima, to the immensely popular World of Warcraft, gamers are always on the move for something new, something better. Everquest held the title for many years as the MMORPG to play. Now, it is unquestionably World of Warcaft. Who can dethrone this giant? Or will it self destruct from the inside out?
Ever since the internets inception, online gaming has been right beside it. People come home from school and work, log in and are no longer Joe Schmoe the 9-5'er, but Krazzack Tombhammer the mighty orc warrior. Troubles and worries left behind, they immerse themselves in another world. By fighting other players, fighting monsters, exploring worlds and dungeons, farming for rafting materials, they try to earn a gold or two, much like the real world.
Currently World of Warcraft has over 8 million subscribers, has so much publicity that even non gamers have heard of it from gamer friends, or from watching TV shows (notably South Park). It released its first expansion "The Burning Crusade" earlier in 2007. This expansion raised the level cap to 70, introduced a new world, new dungeons, new mounts, and new PvP arenas. In doing this though, it has become harder to level a character from scratch, because there is nobody in the old zones, except people leveling an alt. Also, it is old content, boring, and has its problems with an inconsistent leveling curve. The burning crusade also introduced a new type of dungeon, to help causal players achieve epic weapons. But, it is getting stale. Rep grinds, insane amounts of materials needed for crafts, and unbalanced classes in PvP are causing unrest in the blizzard camp. Many people are waiting for the next best thing to come, as is the nature of the business.
This brings us to two games on the horizon, which may hurt blizzards business, Age of Conan, and Warhammer on line. Conan features stunning graphics, real time battle, and a rich lore based storyline. Warhammer features massive amounts of PvP, conquest, and destruction. Both of these games are currently in beta, which means they are not finished, and any discussion of them could be on information that will change before release. In anticipation of this, blizzard will more then likely release a new expansion before or to coincide with the release of one of more of these games.
MMORPG's have been around a long time and do not look to be going away any time soon. The head dog will change; a new leader will emerge, hold the attention of millions for a few years, and then be replaced by the next best thing.