2014 may see the last great year of the Post-World of Warcraft era for the MMO genre. Ever since the success of WoW the MMO market has undergone a massive upheaval. In a genre that was once satisfied with 300,000 subscribers just a decade ago, the industry now looks to the million subscription minimum, as a watermark for success. It was never sustainable and it is impressive that it lasted as long as it did. Certainly while the subscription landscape may go back to near Pre-WoW levels, the F2P market appears ready to thrive. It’s a market that will never be very stable, its very existence is predicated on highs and lows, but with more realistic expectations game developers should be able to weather the storms ahead.
2014 should be a good year regardless of what comes afterwards. Elder Scrolls Online, Wildstar, and Everquest Next round out the AAA development while Origins of Malu and Repopulation round out the indie titles. Three out of the five titles are sandbox titles as well. It’s not surprising that plenty of bad press has made it harder for game developers to make Themepark MMO’s, but its interesting that for the first time ever the Sandbox genre will outweigh the Themepark MMO game.In perhaps the great irony, western MMO gamers who for so long have derided the Asian MMO market, must now look to South Korea for the vast majority of new MMO games. With several high profile missed launches in Phantasy Star Online 2, Otherland, Blade & Soul and perhaps even ArcheAge the MMO market could use the new blood. In every way that counts the MMO landscape will look markedly different by the end of 2014, whether or not the market grows or folds into itself will be up to the quality of the games the genre has produced in the last decade.