I have seecret sources to attempt another analysis of the future. Who will win between EQ2 and WoW? How they’ll affect the subscriptions of the other mmorpgs?
I won’t explain the merit of my conclusions so you can take all this like bullshit:
From what I heard and from what I see WoW not only will “win” over EQ2, but it will gain a quite relevant advantage. Both right at the start and in the long run. EQ2 will show very modest numbers (or better, it won’t show since SOE will never release the actual numbers when they could demonstrate a partial failure). The game will go on but without reaching the expectations of its management. This means a maximum of 250k of unique accounts in the short-mid term (till six months), but probably settling on the 200k line, more or less.
WoW will succeed both in the short and the mid term. It will actually do better than what I expected and imagined before, breaking easily the 400k mark when the european version will launch. The side effect is that Blizzard will have to face for the first time a bunch of “unexpected” problems, from lag, to collapsing servers, to exploits. This not just at release but also along its cycle. A lot of things will change in Blizzard’s attitude, both in how it works internally and outside with the community. Good or bad? We’ll see. It’s a huge mainland, before it settles down there will be some earthquakes.
What about other mmorpgs? Niche games will feel the impact but not so much, they’ll just have to face a downward flexion but nothing too relevant. At least in the short run. In the long run the situation will ask these smaller worlds to show some fighting spirit or they’ll slowly die. Not-so-small worlds will face a stronger, more direct impact, in particular because they offer directly the same type of product, which more then often looks already “tired” on its own. In this case I expect a downward flexion in subscribers around 20% for DAoC, the game I follow more closely. Other mmorpgs could show different results but everything will happen in the long run, slowly.
Future competitors? MEO isn’t worth the attention, same for Matrix. Tabula Rasa will show soon its limits and only Guild Wars will find a good place where to settle down but mostly as a side-effect of this genre instead of a direct competitor. Vanguard is still an empty envelope with a lot of mist inside and all the other project are too immature to be judged at this point.