Is World of Warcraft Destroying the MMORPG Genre?

With well over 8 million subscribers World of Warcraft or WoW is easily the most popular MMORPG ever produced. But is it destroying the MMO industry as a whole? WoW has definitely had a wide ranging effect on the online gaming industry from Star Wars: Galaxies “NGE” update, that basically destroyed that game, to Lord of the Rings Online being very similar in game play (although I think LOTRO is a by far better game). Are we all doomed to play games designed for the absolute lowest common denominator? What happened to games created for mature, intelligent players?
There are still a few online games that require brain power and have long term goals as a focus like Eve Online and Vanguard: Saga of Hero’s (which has its own issues at the moment), however most MMO’s have become little more than Chutes amp; Ladders or Candy Land. Sadly this trend is not likely to end until WoW starts to decline in subscribership and judging by the trend over the last 6 months, that’s not likely soon enough.

What truly disappoints me is the lack of innovation in the current game designs. Understandably MMORPG’s cost massive amounts of money to produce, which limits the amount of unproven designs that a company is willing to place in such an expensive product. However, I think that today’s designers are actually screwing themselves out of one of the best opportunities in the industry. Even having 8 million subscribers, WoW has to have a pretty good turnover of subscriptions, what that means is that there has to be a fairly good amount of people that quit WoW on a regular basis. These people are looking for something more challenging that can keep them interested. I liken this to moving from Candy Land to Monopoly. Trying to beat WoW at its own game is a futile effort; no one quits a game to play the same game with a different name. Knowing what comes after WoW is the real question they should ask themselves.

So, what does come after World of Warcraft? That is the question that many have asked sense this entire sensation began over two years ago. And there are many different games currently in development. Age of Conan and Warhammer Online both look very impressive as a successor to the MMO throne currently held by WoW. Pirates of the Burning Sea has a very different theme that looks like it’s worth a shot. Gods amp; Hero’s looks like an impressive new offering from SOE. All of these could potentially be the “WoW Killer”, but we’ll have to wait and see.