WoW Tourism is just a label for something deeper in the psyche of many MMO players. It’s a term that manages to capture all the intense dislike they have for World of Warcraft. The source of that dislike really stems from the inarguable success that WoW has had both in terms of financial success and subscriber loyalty.
That success is a threat to them. Or more specifically, a threat to the creation or continued support of the types of MMOs that they want to play. Fantastic success inevitably leads others to attempt to emulate that success. As a result, we have seen no shortage of WoW-like clones that have been introduced to the MMO market.
The Elephant in the Room
The success of WoW is the elephant in the room we can’t easily ignore. This is why the WoW Tourist theory is so popular. It’s a very appealing argument for discrediting WoW players and their preferences. However, as I wrote the other day, we can’t deny WoW’s impact simply because it’s convenient to our argument.
No other MMO has been remotely as successful as WoW. That success is also what has attracted investors and game developers to the market. If WoW hadn’t been successful, we wouldn’t have seen such investment or attention in the MMO market.
It’s a mistake to outright ignore WoW and not learn from it's success.
Time to stop blaming the Timing
The other popular argument for dismissing WoW is that it’s success is a function of timing, not a function of game design. As this theory goes, WoW released at the same time other developers (like SOE) were making bad business decisions and broadband internet use was exploding. In short, the success of WoW is attributed to being the best available game at a critical moment in MMO history.
The issue with this logic is that this ‘critical moment’ happened five years ago. And arguably, it might explain the growth but it does not explain why WoW has maintained a subscribership of millions of users. And if blogger interest is any indicator – with a forthcoming WoW expansion (Cataclysm) that might be it’s most popular.
In internet time, five years is more like 20 years. The fact that WoW continues to retain its users after all that time (and for the foreseeable future) is nothing short of incredible.
Next Up: Why Clones Really Fail