Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Second Coming

We all know its coming don't we. Blizzard has hinted in the past that most of their main game titles will be MMOs in the near future. This article gives more weight to that speculation...although, I'm sure we won't see another Blizz MMO for at least another 3-5 years.

I'm not sure if I'd ever be ready for the kind of impact another Blizzard MMO would have on the industry, or my sleep patterns. As I'm writing this, I'm going over in my head what would happen if Blizzard released, say, World of StarCraft. The seas won't boil and the sky won't bleed...but, wow...would that MMO also grab 8 million subscribers? Would they be the same subscribers, different subscribers...a mix maybe? If they released another MMO, and they will, and it's as successful as WoW, and it will be, that would give Blizzard anywhere in the range of 10-16 million subscriptions over two franchises. Thats giving them a monthly revenue of $250 million dollars at the top end....one quarter of a billion! A month!! Could they hit those numbers? I don't really know, but it'll be fun to find out.

As for the impact on the industry of having a second Blizzard MMO, one of two things can happen: 1) it introduces even more people to MMOs and opens the market even more for other games, 2) it pulls a "Walmart" on us, dominating the market leaving very little room for anyone else. I honestly think that those that play WoW will play the next Blizz MMO, no question about it. I don't think Blizz will pick up or "steal" that many new subscriptions. At some point, we've got to hit the saturation point for the number of players willing to play an MMO...don't we? I think we're nearing that point, or we will be by the time they release their next MMO. According to MMOchart.com, we've got around 15 million MMO subscriptions spread over 38-ish MMOs with Blizzard taking 53% of the market (I've added 2 million to the total shown in MMO charts to reflect the recent Blizzard number of 8 million subscribers). I don't think the market will go over 30 million subscribers and Blizzard's market share will stay constant at around 53-60%, even with two MMOs. The numbers work out...with 30 million total subscribers, Blizz taking 16 of those with two MMOs leaving 11 million spread over the others. Where did I get the 30 million number? Again, according to MMO chart, the rate of subscribers has hit a linear area of the curve adding an average of 2 million subscribers a year. If we're at 15 million now, it would take 8 years to double to 30 million. The growth curve just looks like it will stall, as all population curves usually do at some point. Of course, MMOs are now starting to get into the console market, at that point all bets are off as the characteristics of the curve will change due to the new market. So, I don't think an new MMO will introduce a large number of new players to the market...it will draw on the already growing subscriber base which will cap at around 30 million.

Whew...playing with number predictions hurts my brain.

As for the "Walmart"-like market domination part of it, like I said, I think WoW will not go over 60% market share. But there is a side effect to Blizzard having two successful MMOs out there taking everyones gaming time. Thats right...the single player game market. There has been some concern that the presence of WoW has impacted sales of single player games...especially on the PC. Blizz has stated before that all of their titles going forward will concentrate in the MMO space. Are they seeing something we are not? As for the other MMOs...what will happen to them. Well, think of it this way...and yes, I'm going to do my Tiger analogy again. What would the golf world be like with TWO Tigers? Bloody insane for one thing. Now, instead of competing for 2nd, they're all competing for 3rd. My hope is that this will force everyone is going to bring their A-game to the table...which is good news for us. Maybe...just maybe, the introduction of a second MMO by Blizz will bring forth the much anticipated third gen MMO. We can only hope.

D out.

No comments: