The end of the WoW era?

There’s been an interesting discussion gently bubbling along in the blogosphere over the last few days – the discussion of whether or not we’re seeing the End of the Age of WoW.

It all started when Syp stepped forward with a radical proposition: that WoW is, for the first time since its launch, no longer the dominant MMO game:

If I may indulge in a bit of reading between the lines, one can see Blizzard realizing that it no longer leads the pack but is merely one of the pack — and it’s going to have to adapt and innovate faster to stay relevant instead of expecting everyone to follow in its wake like lackeys. Other companies are no longer dropping WoW’s name in every second sentence as they once did, but instead are looking elsewhere for ideas to emulate and nurture.

Tobold picked up on this idea himself, and wasn’t that convinced. Certainly, he felt that he was bored of WoW, but he argues that’s nothing to do with the game:

Any game gets boring after playing it for years and for thousands of hours. I’m bored of WoW. I’m bored of quest-based fantasy MMORPGs in general. But I know that this is something that happens in my head, and not some weird conspiracy that colluded to make all fantasy MMORPGs worse with every patch.

Tobold also suggested that what is actually coming to an end is the “gold rush” era of MMOs, where everyone rushed to mimic WoW. Epic Slant picked up on that in turn:

WoW was the perfect combination of quality, timing, and built in customer loyalty. Everyone assumes that the game itself is what drew people in but that was never the case. People bought World of Warcraft because there were no comparable options and Blizzard could do no wrong in the post Warcraft III/Starcraft/Diablo II era. They took the winning formula of EverQuest, put a beloved intellectual property into it, and polished it to a level that only Blizzard is known for. That is what got people in the door. Everyone accepts that now. There may never be lightning in the bottle again for MMORPGs.

Overall, there’s definitely a feeling of the zeitgeist shifting, with WoW seeming older, more frail, and less dominant every day (attempts to squash the SWTOR release with Patch 4.3 nonwithstanding), and the conversation in the blogosphere increasingly shifting. I’d argue that there’s more discussion of both RIFT and LoTRO than ever before, and less of WoW – whilst it’s still dominant, it’s no longer world-crushing.

We’re in the Post-WoW era. What a wierd feeling.

Are we Post-WoW? Pre-SWTOR? Or somewhere else altogether? (I keep looking to Dwarf Fortress for a glimpse of the future) What do you think?

All quotes taken directly from their respective articles.