World of Warcraft is a landmark game and has been a sensation in its first year of release. As it proceeds through its second year, it is likely to continue its success and see its fan base become even greater. The game world of Azeroth is also set to grow, as a new game expansion is coming to enhance the World of Warcraft experience.
World of Warcraft's challenge in 2006 will involve maintaining its success. When the game first came out, it wasn't clear how it would perform. Blizzard Entertainment were confident in the game and had great hopes for it, but the gaming world was uncertain, wondering how well the traditional Warcraft elements would fit with an interactive online world. It actually worked brilliantly, and so the game took off. Now the question is whether this is sustainable.
It is extremely likely. By this point, it is clear that World of Warcraft is not simply a passing craze but rather a title with serious, long-lasting appeal. The game saw huge international growth in 2005 and in the early weeks of 2006 has already reached 5.5 million subscribers worldwide. The game has built up major momentum and it does not feel like it has peaked. Its sales are in great health, and more and more people are becoming interested in it.
World of Warcraft should see its subscriber base grow even further. It is impossible to predict the future, but it is plausible that it could reach a figure of 6 to 7 million subscribers in the course of the new year. It is important to consider that a number of countries received the game later than America, so there is much potential for growth, as in global terms it is a relatively new game.
It was only in November 2005 that it launched in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, so to those markets it is still a fresh title. The most crucial development for World of Warcraft in 2006 is the upcoming expansion, The Burning Crusade. This title will incorporate elements from a previous game, Warcraft 3, by including the former villains, the Burning Legion.
It will add a new playable race to both the Alliance and the Horde, with the race of Blood Elves confirmed as joining the Horde. It is set to raise the game's level cap to 70 and open up the area of the Outlands. The planned content and features look very promising. It is interesting to consider how the World of Warcraft expansion will be received. It should satisfy people, as it will offer growth and variety to the whole experience.
It will be fascinating to see what new race is joining the Alliance, and it will be intriguing and different for the Horde to have their own "pretty" race in the form of the Blood Elves. In general, the expansion is a good thing and will give the game more depth. It should make the game more appealing to players.
World of Warcraft will also see its influence grow in 2006. Its success has inspired the game industry to develop similar titles and explore where the role-playing genre can go. There are games in development that intend to follow Warcraft's lead.
The title "Borderlands" from Red Mushroom is one such example. This massively multi-player online role-playing game aims to refine its genre even further, by making the game play more competitive and ruthless. It will be interesting to see how it performs. World of Warcraft has a lot to look forward to in its second year.
The subscriber base for the game should grow, as it is now a genuine mainstream success. The expansion will be the most significant update to the game yet. It is clear that World of Warcraft will continue to prosper and will be around for a long time to come.
Hunter Crowell is a researcher, marketer, and an avid online gamer, including World of Warcraft and also the creator of World of Warcraft Gold Price List Guide, a web site setup to help players find the cheapest place to buy their gold.