Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The future of WoW?

I was doing some reading and came across and old discussion from April 2008 about the future of World of Warcraft after the Lich King. Someone pointed out that there are three Old Gods left and a couple of other characters. He predicted that there would be three more expansions and (assuming an 18 month release cycle) then it would be the year 2013 and World of Warcraft would be nine years old and all of the major story villians would have been killed off.

End of story.

End of World of Warcraft.

I think that this is a very good prediction.

However, I don't believe that World of Warcraft is going to end this way. I believe that the game will only die of old age and not for lack of story or players. There may come a time when huge epic expansions are set aside for more aesthetic things. It is possible that expansions might just stop being produced eventually. Servers might end up being merged as the population decreases. But I don't think the game is going to shut down for at least a decade a more.

Consider that the game is constantly being tweaked so that knew computer systems can take advantage of new technology but also the developers do everything they can to ensure that older computers can run smoothly as well. I imagine that in its current state, World of Warcraft could be played smoothly on my computer for at least another five years. I have room to add a second video card and two more ram sticks. Previously, my computers simply didn't have room for upgrades. For players who have their computer packed with all it can hold, they can only get new stuff, not more. My $300 video card will cost only about $50-$100 in five years. It'll be difficult to find a matching card for my extra slot, but not impossible.

My point is that, the current technology alone is enough to sustain World of Warcraft for at least another five years. By then they will likely have tweaked the game some more for those future expansions.

World of Warcraft has a particular art style that works well with low resolutions. But it also takes advantage of current technology and those "simple" graphics can really shine.

Also, consider the historic record of Blizzard. Diablo II is six years old and still comes up in the top ten most played PC games.

No. The player base may begin to shrink some day, but most games tend to shrink from a tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands. World of Warcraft is going to have to shrink from 12 million or more.

This game is here to stay.

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