Our good friends over at Massively have teamed up with the GamerDNA site to come up with some stats of MMO playtime this year, and the results are very interesting. Unfortunately, those results are buried under some pretty confusing charts (and these are all approximations of what's happening from GamerDNA information, not actual subscription numbers), but we'll see if we can pull out the salient points for you.
In (very) short, WoW rules. Two games that most pundits thought might affect WoW playtime, Warhammer Online and Age of Conan, in fact, didn't affect WoW logons in the least, according to this data. And while guest contributor (and GamerDNA writer/analyst) Sanya Weathers says she may have spotted a short decline in WoW playtime right around the release of WAR, that was quickly overshot by the release of Wrath, as WoW's numbers jumped right back up.
But while Blizzard has weathered the competition this year, things might not be so hunky dory for them in the future: while games like Lord of the Rings Online and EVE Online are showing sharper increases, WoW's population seems to be leveling out. It's still growing, sure, but not at the rate that it has been (and perhaps at the slowest rate in the game's life). And you have to think, as we said on the podcast last week, that whatever other expansions Blizzard can come up with, none will be as interesting to their players as finishing off the story of Arthas Menethil and the Lich King. WoW is still the undisputed king of MMOs, but the stats say we're closer to the end of its reign than the beginning.