Tuesday, July 16, 2013

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World of Warcraft Losing War to League of Legends in China

Beijing MMO cafe

We know Blizzard's World of Warcraft is losing subscriptions at a more and more rapid pace, but as it turns out, it's mainly because Chinese WoW players are switching to Leage of Legends, a multiplayer fantasy strategy game, to the tune of up to 1.3 million. (Which is kind of ironic, since League of Legends from Riot Games is inspired by Defense of the Ancients, a mod to a level of Warcraft III, which is turn a game made by... Blizzard.) I'm not surprised in any case, because I see LoL and DoTA being played in lots of places here in China. It was the game that was mostly played in the Beijing MMO cafe I visited, and at the game company I'm consulting for, they seem like the lunch break game that's played by half the staff. (I feel all old school for wondering, "Can a brother get a Battlefield up in here?") But LoL/DoTA is about as popular in the West, relative to the gamer population.

Why is the world's biggest MMO losing out to one of the world's biggest multiplayer games? One speculation:

Fantasy MMOs are distinctly unsuited to the post-desktop generation. Yes, of course people play WoW on laptops and LoL/DotA on desktops, but generally speaking, an MMO is better suited to long stretches of gameplay, and that takes time, and frankly, a comfy chair in a private place. Multi-player player pick-up matches are better suited to a portable device -- crack it open, get your gaming fix for an hour, go back to work. We see a similar trend in mobile gaming, where the most successful fantasy title is not an MMO, but Clash of Clans, another fantasy multiplayer strategy game. But like I said, that's just one speculation, and I'm open to others.

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Emperor Norton

If you just want to do PvP, why bother with a MMO and their time wasting grinds? It maybe an alien concept to most game designers but your typical gamer plays these things for fun.

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