Over at GigaOM Wagner James Au gives a report on a talk by Raph Koster on the Long Tail and gaming – including the astounding claim that Second Life (currently 400,000 subscribers) will overtake World of Warcraft (currently 7 million subscribers) by 2008.
I can only imagine that someone has been putting something in the water, or that no one on the panel had every played either game. Second Life is, by comparison with WoW, simply DULL. It’s basically chat with avatars – entirely social.
What’s clear is that the panel didn’t understand why WoW has been successful. Unlike previous MMORPGs, WoW is architected so you can play through the whole game without grouping – ie, it can be played as a single player game. This means that it suffers less from the problem that bedevilled EverQuest, which was that if you came into the game late you couldn’t get groups and so found it hard to level.
I’m not actually surprised at the lack of understanding. The majority of games companies are pretty clueless about the appeal of MMORPGs.