Few video games can hold a candle to the way in which World of Warcraft shook up the genre of the MMO since its inception in 2004, blazing its way to 12 million subscribers strong by the time the Cataclysm expansion rolled around. Since then, however, the numbers have began to decline gradually through time, with Activision’s most-recent update revealing the title’s paying audience has plateaued at around the 10 million mark. A substantial figure, no doubt, but according to Daybreak Games boss John Smedley, the heyday of the subscription-based MMO “is over.”
Previously known as Sony Online Entertainment prior to February’s internal shake-up, Daybreak is best known for its zombie MMO H1Z1, which follows the trend of more recent MMOs and MOBA by offering up a free-to-play template before making revenue through cosmetics and other in-game purchases. Speaking with GamesIndustry International, here’s what the executive had to say on the future of WoW in a genre that has witnessed a radical redesign in recent years.
“I firmly believe the days of the WoW-style MMO are over,” Smedley said. “And that means we have to change with the times. Luckily, we were kind of early on that bus as opposed to late. But we’re changing what we’re making.”
“And I say that because the average life expectancy in H1Z1 might be 45 minutes, and that’s what today’s gamers want. How many people do you still know that are still raiding in WoW every night, or EverQuest and EverQuest II? It’s just the time commitment necessary has changed so much,” Smedley explained. “That means we need to change with the times, and we are. So we’re getting interested in a broader array of games and gaming styles.”
Though the exist on opposite ends of the spectrum, H1Z1, despite its technical hiccups at launch, has sold close to 1 million copies through Steam’s Early Access. A telltale sign of the way in which genre fans consumer content. But that’s not to say there isn’t a future for World of Warcraft, and with 10 million subscribers under its belt, it’ll be some time yet before Activision’s legendary MMO bows out from the gaming scene.
Source: GamesIndustry International