Not seeing what one thing has to do with another in OP's post. I started MMORPG's with Asheron's Call, which came out well before WoW. Some real life friends convinced me to play it with them and having never played PC games before, I had my reservations but was immediately hooked on the game. AC wasn't a replacement for a social life, I still actually went out and did things with friends but I enjoyed the social aspect of the game as well. When my AC guild started talking about WoW around the time it came out, I decided to check it out and see what all the fuss was about and once again, was instantly hooked.
Since then the only people I know irl who play WoW with my are my husband and my daughter. I still enjoy the social aspect of MMORPG's and would lose interest quickly if I didn't have a good guild to hang out with in game. I miss the days when these games forced people to group up and interact, back when the MMORPG community was significantly smaller and the genre wasn't so popular. I don't find the genre any less appealing than I did 13 years ago, though I can't say I'm happy with all the changes they've made to attract a newer, younger audience.
MMORPG's were originally role playing games that encouraged multiplayer gameplay. Does the environment itself foster socialization? Yes, but to say the genre is being phased out by FB chat is ridiculous since there is no comparison between the two.
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I don't think this genre is going to die... Like most things they just simmer down then it comes back into vogue. Take Call of Duty, that thing has been going for years and had a lot of competitors but almost every year, without fail there's some rehash or respawn and some dumb duck is gonna queue up to get it at a midnight launch. That franchise started in 2003... it's now 2014.
I don't like FPS but someone will and they will go buy it.
On top of that the recession was a couple of years so to save money people stayed at home and played games, if you look at the game industry as a whole the entirety just boomed from sales as people could either pirate or buy a game and be entertained for a month for minimum purchase and maximum the time. WoW is the biggest prime example of minimal spend and so much to do with the added bonus of socialising so people stuck to it for longer than they intended... Now the recession has lessened, people wanna spend money on things other then games...
But with 6.8 million subscribers when they started off with like 1-2 million in Vanilla, I doubt they mind. After all, with 7m subscribers paying subscriptions... They are probably earning BILLIONS in a month... Go figure. I doubt that's a dying genre, I'd say that's one of the most invested companies.
"If there is ever a zombie apocalypse. We're safe, stupid people don't have brains." ~~~ D:
Young people aren't joining MMO's anymore. They are playing Minecraft and FPS'. Over 10 million Minecraft copies sold in N America alone.
There were plenty of chat programs and ways to communicate online while WoW was in its glory days.
interests have widened, players are growing older, games are more cheaply and easily available on stuff like steam. OF all varieties. India games are out there for quick fun. Multiplayers out there like Moba's, Co-ops, Vs, etc.
Stuff that chips away at mmo's but does not mean it is ending.
Some people will be weary of MMO's. Others aren't - they really are just bored of WoW. I have no issue investing in alternate MMO's - some of which I consider to be far more enjoyable than WoW itself. I don't think the genre is dying at all. There's simply many more viable MMO's available and so a lot more people are spread out across them rather than the majority playing WoW and WoW only.