There is a distinctive peak in March, followed by a continuous decline to June. Still, there were more people around in June 07 than in December 06, so it's not all bad. Talking about the WoW subscribers numbers again? No, this is actually the description of the below graph counting visitors to my blog. Ignore the July numbers, those are "month to date", the graph only looks good on the last day of a month.
But the resemblance between this graph and the WarcraftRealms WoW activity graph is remarkable. Just like WoW this blog has been growing since its release, and has now gone into reverse, with a small decline. July numbers will be horrible because of my holidays, and then we'll see how it continues for the rest of the year. If I keep between 2,000 and 3,000 visitors per day, as it is now, I'd be happy.
Now I'm wondering whether the decline is just because I stopped playing World of Warcraft. I mean, I'm still writing enough about that game, it is not as if I could write about MMORPG design and ignore WoW. With an inherent assumption that everybody reading a MMORPG blog will know about World of Warcraft, it is easier to base examples of new ideas (like player-created dungeons) on that game. And with a firm intention to come back to WoW if the next expansion is any good, I'm obviously still interested and writing about World of Warcraft news.
So when I'm reading about gaming slumps on various blogs, it makes me wonder if there is something larger going on. Are people maybe less interested in MMORPGs than they used to be? Did my blog just lose the people who aren't interested in non-WoW writing, or has the traffic on WoW blogs gone down as well?
In the early days of World of Warcraft there was a lot of talk about the "rising tide lifts all boats" theory. WoW would attract new players into the genre, and when they eventually would leave, they would nevertheless stay with MMORPGs and just move to newer games. This is certainly happening to some extent. But there must also be people who played World of Warcraft until they burned out, looked around and saw that all the other MMORPGs had more or less the same sort of gameplay, and thus left the genre. The question is only how many people are staying with MMORPGs, and how many are going back to console games or whatever else they were playing before.
Part of the problem is certainly the "first love" effect. My first MMORPG love was Everquest (I never got that attached to UO), and all the MMORPGs I played from 2001 to 2004 just weren't as fascinating. Not before WoW did I find a game that I played for as long as Everquest. Now there are millions of people for who World of Warcraft was their first MMORPG ever, their first love in the genre. And the generation of games coming out now is probably appearing pale in comparison. Even Warhammer Online is far from being a guaranteed success. So maybe lots of people are currently disillusioned from MMORPGs in general, and that would affect game subscription numbers as well as blog visitor numbers. Either that, or my blog numbers are just shadowing WoW numbers. Not sure which of those is the scarier scenario.