Industry analyst Michael Pachter has issued his latest proclamation, declaring at the Evolve conference in Brighton that MMO gaming has “peaked” and that the recent failures by BioWare and 38 Studios are all but heralding the end of the subscription model for MMOs.
Specifically, Pachter says that there are only a limited number of people willing to pay for a subscription fee, and most of them are sucked into World of Warcraft, with other games, like Star Wars: The Old Republic or Rift or The Lord of the Rings Online occasionally coming along and taking a few from that number — but not actually adding new players to the mix:
“Star Wars was supposed to bring in all of these new people that had never played an MMO before, just because they loved the brand. We know that Rift just took players from other existing MMOs, and the same with Conan and Lords of the Rings. Now the same thing has happened with Star Wars.
“It looks to me as though the MMO market is as big as it’s ever going to be – as far as subscription MMOs. People willing to play $15 a month.., there are six or seven million of them. Period. If Star Wars couldn’t expand it, when it’s made by BioWare, nothing can do it.
On the one hand, it’s easy to see where Pachter’s coming from. It’s not uncommon to think that so many new MMOs haven’t truly caught on is because they’re all competing for the same players. But on the other hand, the notion that “SWTOR is failing, so there will never be another big MMO,” which is also prevalent, might be a little presumptive.
What do you think? Have MMOs reached their peak? Or is Pachter just oversimplifying the matter?