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The Top 10 MMOs of 2012 - Revisited

William Murphy Posted:
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Back in 2009, our own Jon Wood took a look deep into his crystal ball to find out what games he believed would be dominating the market in 2012.  Surprisingly enough, there's a lot of stuff in that original List which could still wind up true next year.  But as all prophets do, Jon took a few guesses that just didn't pan out.  In this week's List let's go through his original "Ten Games" and see what was a hit and what was a big ol' miss.  Of course 2012 is still four months away and all, but something tells me that number six and and a few others just won't be happening anytime soon.  I'd also be willing to replace a few with games such as Lord of the Rings Online (Freemium), The Secret World, Rift and TERA as of today.  But that's for another List next week!  So grab your pop-corn, dive right in, and get ready to argue "what went wrong?" in the comments below!


#10: Aion

Aion really could have been something special.  And by all means, it's still a very successful game for NCsoft.  But when it launched in September of 2009 to a bevy of pre-orders, the player-base just didn't stick with the game.  Still Aion is quite likely one of the top ten MMORPGs in terms of retention this day and age.  I wouldn't be surprised if it was even a bit further up this list, despite the backlash the title received after launch.  It's come a long way since then, and seems to have a pretty devoted and steady group of fans. 


#9: A Superhero Based Game (DC, Marvel, or Champions)

It's no secret by now that none of the three major Superhero games currently on the market are any sort of dominating force in the industry.  Jon's guess was that Champions, DCUO, or Marvel would have come and landed a hefty bunch of subscribers by now.  Champions languished and went F2P where it's seeing strong support, DCUO launched to a lot of sales then ran into a bevy if issues which resulted in not-so-great retention.  And Marvel?  Well, Marvel's MMO is not exactly so far along that I'd expect it in 2012.  Unless you count Superhero Squad, which I wouldn't.  In fact, I'm willing to bet that the largest number of subscribers to a capes and tights MMO still belongs to City of Heroes.  But I could be wrong.


#8: World of Darkness

CCP announced this bad boy a long while ago.  But that doesn't mean it's anywhere close to being done.  Not if the essentially zero amount of PR means anything.  World of Darkness may still wind up being an absolute smash of an MMO when it arrives.  But I'm willing to bet that The Secret World has a much greater chance of taking this spot than WoD does in the year 2012.  For one, Funcom's game is actually on schedule for release.


#7: EVE Online

There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that EVE belongs here.  Heck, I'd put them higher.  Not just because CCP's game continues to evolve and grow, but because it's essentially the closest any MMO has come to actually offering a true virtual world for its players.  Jon has it pegged at #7, but I'm willing to bet that with the Asian release forthcoming, EVE has the potential to grow into one of the top five biggest MMOs in the industry, even with so many years under its belt.


#6: All Points Bulletin

Um.  No.  Not this one.  That's really all I'm going to say.  Not anything against Gamersfirst and their ressurection of APB, as it's a far better game these days.  Just, well... we all know what happened.  The potential this title once had has long since left the building. 

#5: Star Trek Online

Part of me would love to believe that STO could be one of the top 10 MMOs in 2012.  But unless they make a switch to a freemium model, I don't see how it could crack in to the upper reaches of "The Ten".  It's a good game.  It gets the setting and lore right, even if the focus on "pew-pew" is a little anti-Roddenberry for me.  Heck, it's an MMO, combat has to be a big part of the game.  But this one missed its mark. 


#4: Final Fantasy XIV

There hasn't been a game that defied expectations in the industry as much as FFXIV.  And that's not a good thing.  From one of Japan's oldest and most revered studios, with the once massively successful but not perfect FFXI under its belt, everyone thought FFXIV would just wind up being huge.  They figured Square was watching the industry and how it changed, what it took to make a successful game in today's world-wide market.  But they weren't.  They failed.  And now the entire original staff has pretty much been replaced while a new group of developers dive in and try their best to make FFXIV the game its fans expected.  This is one of those spots that I probably would have put a different game in.


#3: Star Wars: The Old Republic

The top three Jon originally wrote seem interchangeable to me.  I think there's very little doubt in anyone's mind that two of the biggest games we've seen on the horizon since World of Warcraft are The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2.  Everyone expects them to sell oodles of boxes, even if no one can agree on just how many subs TOR will get or how much the Cash Shop will effect GW2.  In short, if there's a part of this List that Jon was the "most right" about?  It's the top three.  I just can't decide if the order's spot on, or if the venerable Blizzard Behemoth belongs right here in spot #3.


#2: Guild Wars 2

We have never seen a game on this site with a higher score in the "Hype" category.  It's absolutely unprecedented.  But that doesn't mean GW2 is safe from failure.  I have little doubt that it will sell more boxes than its first incarnation, and it will probably do so in a matter of weeks.  The hype is that strong with this one.  But will the hype pay off?  Believe it or not, even with a full media-blitz in place over the year or so, there's still a lot left to uncover about Guild Wars 2.  One thing's for sure, ArenaNet and NCsoft have a bonified hit on their hands.  Let's just hope the game lives up to the hype.


#1: World of Warcraft

I don't know why, maybe it's the fact that it's getting on in years, or maybe it's the underwhelming reception of Cataclysm despite its strong sales, but I feel like WoW is finally on the decline.  Not that declining from 11 million subscriptions or whatever the number was is a terribly bad thing.  At this rate Blizzard could lose more than half of its subscribers and still be the absolute dominating game on the market.  But perhaps it's time that Blizzard gave out some details on their next MMO, or better... how they plan on keeping WoW relevant and fresh in a quickly changing industry landscape.  I'm not ready to dethrone WoW from this spot yet.  Like Jon, I believe it'll be a while before Azeroth loses enough citizens to call it anything less than number one.  But, I'm certainly of the mind that this behemoth is no longer invulnerable. 


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.