Well another year has come and gone, and inexplicably World of Warcraft is still the most popular MMOG out there. Obviously it isn’t completely inexplicable since WoW is such a solid game and has been the number one game in the genre for so long that most people don’t even remember the old king, EverQuest. It is a bit surprising to me though since most games don’t survive a year, very few hold up into their second year, and yet WoW is just as good seven years later!
So what do I see in store for World of Warcraft this coming year, what are the Messiah’s predictions?
Obviously the next expansion for World of Warcraft will launch and everyone will be excited about Mists of Pandaria, but about what?
Pandas will Rule WoW
As much as some people complain about how silly pandas being added into the game is, I believe that they will rule the game in the near future as so many players just can’t wait to play one (myself included). The models that we have seen for the Pandarens look so cool and animated that not many people will be able to resist them.
Therefore I predict that 2012 will be the year of the Panda, at least in Azeroth. Here on earth according to the Chinese Zodiac it will be the year of the Dragon, but hey most of us spend more time in Azeroth than here.
For all those that mock the power of the Panda and their place in WoW all I have to say isÂ seriously? So you were ok with cows riding dinosaurs in vanilla WoW, but pandas are pushing it to far? Really? Come on.
WoW will continue to rule the MMOG space
Star Wars: The Old Republic was released very recently and Rift and others continue to hang on, but really there is only one game that has a change to hold the number one spot for the year, and once again it is World of Warcraft. Mists of Pandaria will help cement that when it is released.
While I seriously hope for some solid competition at some point, if for no other reason than to make Blizzard get off their kiesters and get project Titan ready for release, I just don’t see that competition coming from anything out now, or any time soon. Sure some games are technically better, most are graphically better, but none puts it all together as well as WoW does. For example I found Rift to be an awesome game, but what killed it was that it just never got enough players into it to be full all the time, therefore players migrated back to WoW so that they could get into groups and raids.
Diablo III will Draw Players from WoW
The one game I see having a major impact on WoW this year is another Blizzard title, Diablo III. It will induce a huge number of WoW players to jump ship and play it. However while many Blizzard fans will take a break from WoW, it will not affect WoW’s numbers that dramatically due to Blizzards brilliant Annual pass system.
Many of the players I play with purchased the annual pass to get Diablo III for free, while not feeling guilty about having to still pay for their WoW account. This means that no matter how much or little they play WoW during their Diablo III play time, Blizzard still makes money. Better yet, since they can not suspend their subscription, having set it up for a year, they never leave and therefore don’t have the chance to not come back.
Raiding will become more casual (main-stream?)
Due to the popularity and success of the looking for raid tool, raiding will continue to expand to more players. This should allow more people into raids, and therefore into more content. This should keep interest in the game from casual players longer in-between patches and there should be less account drops in periods of time between patches.
This could also push for more content from the developers since more players will be using it. I doubt this will happen as Blizzard has always been way too slow at putting out significant amounts of content, it’s all quality, or mainly, but it is way too long in between.
LastlyÂ We will still be talking about WoW at this time next year.
By this time next year we may know about the next WoW expansion, but even if we don’t, we will still all be talking about the game.
Given that WoW has stood against so many possible threats to knock it off its pedestal, I have given up predicting its demise. I firmly believe it will still be around in a big way at this time next year.