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Blizzard’s MMOnopoly: Why is there no real competition?

January 20, 2009 1 comment

Blizzard’s World of Warcraft is an absolute juggernaut in the PC gaming world.  Official numbers released by the company pegged the number of currently active subscriptions at a staggering 11.5 million spurred by the release of the latest expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, which became the fastest selling PC game ever with four million copies in players’ hands within a month of release.  To give some perspective:

  • Everquest and Ultima Online, the two most successful pre-WoW MMORPGs, both peaked at around 400,000 and 250,000 subscribers, respectively.
  • Lifetime sales of The Sims (excluding expansion packs) is over 16 million.

With the kind of success that Blizzard has seen expanding the MMORPG genre, many companies have tried to enter the market and carve out a healthy subscriber base.  After all, if a company can get 15 dollars a month from a few million people, then that’s a healthy amount of profit even including server upkeep and content creation.

Yet few have ended up with anything resembling WoW‘s sustained growth despite a great deal of effort.  Why?

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