Everyone's A Prophet This Week

So far be it for me to buck the trend!

  • This is going to be a slow year for MMOs. Last year saw the release of most of the projects that began development before WoW shipped. (The remainder – Age of Conan and Warhammer Online are set to release this year, and Pirates of the Burning Sea this month.) Now we enter the Desert of Azeroth, as the extinction-level-event that is World of Warcraft’s unbelievable success caused everyone in the MMO industry in 2005 to go:

    In the next few years following, we’ll see the results of everyone trying to go all aikido and step where WoW isn’t. But for this next year or so, you’re going to see the effect of an entire MMO industry three to four years ago going “Holy crap. They sold how many boxes? And our entire development team is in a WoW guild? Hmm.”

  • Speaking of those above three MMOs, they’ll all be pretty successful, if not astounding million sellers, which means that every pundit will wax profoundly about how they’re all failures, despite keeping their dev teams paid and their publishers afloat. Note: MMOs can be successful revenue sources even when not produced by Blizzard! Specifically, PotBS will be a niche title a la Eve which does well long term but nothing spectacular out of the gate, Warhammer will grab over a million subscribers (counting both the US and European markets) which will make it the second biggest MMO, disappointing everyone who wanted it to be Teh Giant Slayer. Age of Conan will do somewhere in the 200K range, much less if there are launch issues (it remains to be seen if Funcom’s learned from Anarchy Online). No one will care about the much-vaunted nudity. It didn’t save Shadowbane, either.
  • Speaking of Blizzard: Starcraft 2 will slip to 2009, sorry. However, fear not – the PC market will still be in a Blizzard hammerlock, as the next World of Warcraft expansion pack will ship just in time for the Christmas rush, dwarfing any other game’s launch that year. Note: I did not say “any other MMO game”. I meant “ANY OTHER GAME”. The PC market, by and large, is rapidly becoming WoW-driven. Proof? In November, almost a year after Burning Crusade’s ship, amidst all the new hotness Christmas releases like Orange Box and Call of Duty 4, Burning Crusade was #9 in the PC charts for the month and World of Warcraft was #5. This doesn’t track subscriptions – these are box sales – new accounts.  In terms of subscribers, WoW will finally plateau after cracking 10 million, mainly because there is no one in WoW’s target market left. The big news at next year’s BlizzCon will be the announcement of Blizzard’s next MMO, which will not be World of Starcraft or World of Diablo.
  • EA Austin — sorry, Bioware Austin will finally announce that yes, they’re working on Knights of the Old Republic Online. Everyone will yawn since that was leaked all over the place LAST year. Or maybe those leaks were MISDIRECTION! And they’re really working on Peggle Online. That Gordon Walton fellow is crafty.
  • Free MMOs will continue to pull in more free users, more paid users, and more money than the vast majority of “old school” MMOs, as Raph Koster is vindicated in spades, over and over, when people start to actually notice that more people play Maple Story than World of Warcraft.
  • Second Life will no longer be all over the news as even Reuters figures out that a lot more people talk about Second Life than actually participate in it. They will continue to have server and client issues, and near the end of the year the first Second Life clones that were conceived back when Second Life was the new hotness hit the market. I don’t know what they are off the top of my head, and you won’t either, because as Linden already knows and these new kids will learn, enabling a game wholly based on user generated content in a 3D space is REALLY REALLY REALLY freakin’ hard.
  • 2008 will be to Facebook as 2007 was to Myspace – no one will care any more, some hot new thing will come along, and everyone currently working on Facebook-centric startups will feel awfully silly (but still make hojillions of dollars).
  • The election matchup will be Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney, and Obama will win in a landslide. I’m willing to fudge on the Republican side given Iowa’s results but it’ll still be a Democrat landslide. Ron Paul will run from the right as a Libertarian candidate (I know, he said he wouldn’t, HE FIBBED DEAL WITH IT) and break 5%, which dwarfs the LP’s previous best of 2% but is still a statistical blip.

Feel free to tell me I’m full of it! Bonus points if you (a) tell me I totally forgot about Darkfall or (b) complain that Shadowbane didn’t actually ship with any nudity.