Can Wow’s next expansion save an entire industry?

wow expansion art warlords of Draenor

As detailed on many a mmo news site, yesterday Blizzard revealed the release date for the next wow expansion Warlords of Draenor. The title drops on Nov. 13 of this year. As my summer internship is coming to a close soon, I may find myself with a lot of time in the next few weeks for playing some games, at least until the end of summer.

I have not been playing wow recently because my blood elf got caught in sort of a loop in his latest quest and I have been too lazy to get him out of it, so he is stuck at level 8 just shy of being eligible for pvp.

The question that has been bounced around all over the web is will this new expansion rekindle an interest in players to revisit the World of Warcraft? It seem sort of silly to bemoan the state of one of the single biggest games in its genre, a game which still brings a lot of revenue for Activision/Blizzard, but the truth is that wow has to compete with new games like ESO and Wildstar and it relies on the game’s lore and some hard core players to do so. Still articles like this one are representative of the gaming industry’s curiosity over the future of both wow and the mmorpg genre.

While blogs like Alt:ernative Chat are all about wow and posted this informative post about changes in the game coming in the expansion, most mmoprg bloggers out there are either too disappointed with wow to care about the next xpac, or too immersed with their own mmo realities to notice.

Those that did like the Ancient, for example, have posted interesting thoughts of late, like the ancient’s recent allusions to altholism rules.  Mr and Mrs. Wow have the rundown on the anniversary event. I didn’t even know there was one planned but I should have guessed if DAoC would have one that wow (a much bigger title in terms of subs) would also have one in the works.

The thing is, if I was someone looking to invest in developing a mmorpg or even running a website or project, I would be concerned not just with the state of wow (steady but dropped a number of subs) but with the lackadaisical state of the entire genre.

As proof I give you this chart from google trends:

mmorpg popularity chart by google

It clearly shows that mmorpgs peaked in interest or popularity (or at least Google searches dealing with the genre) right around 5 years ago, which is coincidentally when I started playing and looking at blogs, and have been pummeling ever since. Contrast this with MOBAS:

moba popularity chart by google

This is a striking difference and a reason why LOL seems to have overtaken wow as the most popular online game. Is there any way we can reverse the trend? What are some factors which have led to this noticeable decrease and is it too late to do something about it? Will Warlods of Draenor not only “save” wow, but invigorate an entire genre? Only time will tell.

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