Dana Massey has written an editorial that argues that World of Warcraft will be the sole reason that the Pay-2-Play model of MMOGs will end in 2008.
Massey argues that World of Warcraft has absorbed so many consumers that the market has locked-up. Apparently, the only games that will now succeed are those that are Free-2-Play, have ingame ads or charge players for items.
WoW casts a huge shadow and no one has been able to get out from under it. The evidence is in the numbers. Before WoW, EverQuest lorded over the genre with an estimated peak in the range of 500,000 subscribers. Star Wars Galaxies was at its most successful still considered a relative disappointment with over 300,000 subscribers. Games like Dark Age of Camelot once hovered well over the 200,000 mark. Then came WoW, now at 9.5 million and counting.
Such titles as Lord of the Rings Online have seen limited success when it comes to player figures, despite the backing of a massive IP and an award winning deveolpment team. Massey claims this is due to the sheer size of World of Warcraft which is absorbing all of the available cash and players.
The article closes with a declaration that while the P2P model of MMO gaming is failing, the F2P model is becoming a wild success as it has the benefit of attracting even the most reserved of gamers to the MMO world.
Massey also claims that such things as delays to polish the game hamper the ability of strong IPs to succeed against World of Warcraft.
EA Mythic's position is not altogether unlike the spot where Turbine stood a year ago. They had a big backer in Midway, loads of experience with Asheron's Call and Dungeons and Dragons Online, and an even bigger IP to back them. I have no doubt that WAR will be a profitable game, with lots of units sold and a healthy number of subscribers, but will it reach the goals EA Mythic had for it and will it justify the millions of dollars they have pumped into it?
Funcom's position is also eerily similar to that of EA Mythic and Turbine. This time Eidos is the big publisher, Robert E. Howard's Conan novels the IP and Anarchy Online the experience.
So far, the reactions to the editorial on the Warhammer Online have mostly been against the opinion given by Massey, with people stating that World of Warcraft has seen a much wider release than most other Western MMOGs and also that subscription fees need to be profitable and exceed the cost of maintaining the game in order to be considered a success.
I'm interested to see what the Curse community think about this topic. Is World of Warcraft going to be the destroyer of P2P or is there still room for the giant to be over-thrown or at least matches?