The Weekly Raid: Are MMORPGs Back?

SuperData released their monthly digital games market report earlier today and its filled with good news for the MMORPG genre. World of Warcraft surged past League of Legends and Fortnite to claim the #2 spot for highest grossing PC game for the month of August. World of Warcraft brought in $161 million in August, not counting Battle for Azeroth pre-orders. WoW's subscription numbers hit their highest point since 2014 when Warlords of Draenor was released.

Dungeon Fighter Online, the 2D brawler MMORPG that's 'big in China' took the #1 spot again. Another China-focused MMORPG, Fantasy Westward Journey Online 2, claimed #6. All told, that's 3 spots in the top 10 for a genre that many have written off for years now.

What's more, we have an ever expanding list of MMORPGs in various phases of the development cycle. These upcoming MMORPGs aren't all indie titles either. Many, like Ashes of Creation, Crowfall, and Camelot Unchained now have large teams and extensive financial backing. A few even have enough of a backing to potentially go toe-to-toe with WoW. New World has just entered Alpha testing and with Amazon's backing it likely enjoys unlimited access to hardware, bandwidth, and money. There's no guarantee any of these titles will find a large audience, but the odds of at least a single success increase with every new project.

The slowing of hardware improvements and convergence between PC/console capabilities also bodes well for the MMORPG genre. Many MMORPGs, especially free to play ones, have found success with their console ports. Neverwinter, Tera, and Skyforge are all great examples. With the next generation of consoles likely only a few years away, its likely we'll see even more PC MMORPGs make the leap, opening the genre up to tens of millions of new players.

Older players are also being drawn back to the genre with the help of classic servers. Old School Runescape (OSRS) still commands a massive audience. Lineage 2 has a classic server in the works, and EverQuest has found enormous success of years with its progression servers. Even Blizzard has finally understood the logic of classic servers. An official 'vanilla' World of Warcraft service was announced last Blizzcon and will likely bring many veterans back to the game.

With so much going well for the genre, is the genre finally 'back' from its dark ages?

Lifelong gamer always looking for the next virtual adventure. I'm still waiting for the next big MMORPG. Until then, you can find me hopping between multiple games.