This is a question that you'll see daily over on Reddit, people pronouncing the death of the MMO and asking what out there, if anything, could peak their interest, with people saying the industry is dead - but to them, I say, you're wrong. The industry is so far from dead, it's actually at the healthiest it has ever been and there is a lot of reasons both for the perception of decline and for the strength that the industry rests at. 

First, the perception issue - is strongly correlated to the perception of WoW. For many, WoW is the only MMO in the industry and it's failure or success is everything. The media, at large, fails to explain why there is a downtrend, while not explaining anything about the logistics of how WoW subscriptions work. World of Warcraft is more than just a monthly subscription thing that you have to cancel. It's also a game paid for hourly in other areas. 

Considering Asia is one of the largest demographics, you have to understand that 1200 minutes of playing is roughly $5, which translates to about 20 hours of playtime. When you're on a timer, with cash on the line, you're more likely to optimize how you'll play. One thing that you won't do, is along with paying for the cyber cafe time, is to sit and play FarmVille, which is what most players would do. 

In times of old, things were a bit different - you'd have to login to WoW to talk to your friends, but with, which works very well on cyber café systems, you more than likely will keep in touch there. So now, when your time runs out, you're just going to not log back in. There isn't any content to do and there isn't a reason to be on the game. 

In the rest of the world, players don't want to play after being offered a plethora of other options by Blizzard for what they could be doing, while the game stagnates from lack of content. Unlike before, there isn't a new patch every other month with tons of new game content but instead mega-patches with a lot of content, but not necessarily a lot of longevity. 

So, perception stands that WoW is failing and with WoW failing, people believe strongly that the industry is failing. That's not the case. WoW and MMO players are two different beasts. Players who play MMOs are not necessarily WoW players, and WoW players aren't necessarily MMO fans. The fantastic truth of the matter is that most players could seriously care less about how or what WoW is going to do with itself. 

The next expansion, it'll have explosive growth again, and die down once Overwatch comes out. Meanwhile, Final Fantasy XIV holds strong along with its cousin Guild Wars 2, the current leaders in the industry. They have strong playerbases that continue to grow. The Elder Scrolls, Star Wars the Old Republic, RIFT, and a plethora of other strong AAA games continue to do well while quirky games like The Secret World, EVE, All Points Bulletin, TERA, and so many more do ever so well. Neverwinter Nights and newcomers like Skyforge are healthy and active, with large playerbases, and even old games like Lord of the Rings Online maintain large healthy playerbases while even "failures" like ArcheAge actually have large vocal communities and then non-traditional MMOs like Planetside, Warframe, etc. 

The industry has done better than it ever has. One of the perceptual issues, beyond WoW, is that there isn't a new launch every other month. This is because all of the games listed above survived and thrived. They're where the bar rests, and you can't just throw something at the wall now to see if it's going to stick anymore. You have to make something better than something else that's out there. That's why Skyforge launched and it was so complete, compared to ages before, where a game would launch halfway done to see if there was any interest in it. 

I'm not going to waste your time listing everything out there that's doing well along with games that aren't nearly as large, but continue to have players play them (Aion, Lineage II, Everquest 2, etc.) and have large vocal communities as well. Now, these games may not be specifically for you, but there is a lot of people playing them. 

Ultimately, I don't think of a time the industry hasn't been in a better position. Games are growing, new games coming out are the best quality I've ever seen, and while monetization isn't the best, it's better than before since most every MMO now gives you a choice by being free, and only paying for quality of life improvements (or dreadful lockboxes). 

I think it's doing great and others may disagree with me, but I urge you to do the research. Look at how many games have active communities, look at all the discussion, and see where it stands, before feeling as if things are actually really bad. 

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Last Updated: Mar 20, 2016

About The Author

Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.