The rise of World of Warcraft (WoW) has had many game critics prophesizing the end of the game industry as we know it. These critics believe that a persistent virtual world like World of Warcraft (or any MMO) well stifle any chance that a closed box game might have. While this idea may be good for getting attention I do not see the MMO industry as causing the downfall of video gaming.
The first fact that is often misunderstood is the total number of people that play MMO games. World of Warcraft alone now has over 4 million paying subscribers from all over the world. One of the best selling PC games of all time is The Sims, which has sold somewhere around 8 million copies (not including all the add-ons, expansions and console versions). While WoW is incredibly popular, it still has just a small impact on the PC gaming world and that does not even count gamers that only use consoles, browser games and cell phones.
Another fact that is commonly overlooked is the audience that plays most MMO games. As an avid MMO gamer myself, I know that most gamers are at the end of the 18-30 year old spectrum. This particular audience will usually stick to just one game for a very long time because they can handle the complex game play and deep story. These are not the kids standing in line for the next Grand Theft Auto.
The last and most important fact is that many people play more than one game at a time. That may even mean more than one MMO at a time. I know from personal experience that I can only handle the RPG hack and slash game play for so long before I need a good FPS fix. While MMO games may take up more time than a standard closed box game many gamers tend to switch it up. As long as there is something else out there to excite gamers and keep them entertained they will buy new games. The extreme popularity of WoW and other MMO's just speaks of a rising new genre for designers to explore.
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