World Of Warcraft Is The Simpsons Of Video Games, Will Never End

The Simpsons
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World of Warcraft is The Simpsons of video games. Now, hear me out: It’s not as nonsensical as it sounds on the surface. WoW, which celebrated its tenth anniversary last year, has staying power that very few other games have demonstrated, or even had the opportunity to demonstrate. That certainly puts the game in league with The Simpsons for sheer longevity (although the scales are different in television compared to games), but really, that’s only where the analogy begins. And let me warn you… this isn’t going to be very flattering to World of Warcraft.

 

World Of Warcraft Is Basically The Simpsons

 

When The Simpsons first debuted in 1989, it was far from the first animated television show for adults. After all, The Flintstones had done much the same thing a full generation before. But The Simpsons was certainly the greatest animated television show of its era, for adults or otherwise (at least, so the common consensus will tell you… personally I don’t care for it). It attracted a truly massive audience and spawned endless merchandise. It influenced pop culture more than… well, pretty much anything else besides maybe Seinfeld. And then it went into long, long decline. The writing got worse; the stories got old. And the show still endures, two and a half decades later. Although there’s little to commend it now, The Simpsons carries on.

World of Warcraft is similar. It wasn’t the first MMORPG, nor even the first successful one. But it was the first MMO to truly capture the public’s attention, to win a mass audience. It broke through into broad awareness, and as a result it had a huge influence on popular culture. Look at Leeroy Jenkins. Hell, look at South Park. WoW broke through, somehow.

But that’s not really the heart of how the game is similar to The Simpsons. That’s all in its decline. Because, face it, World of Warcraft really is in decline . It’s a game that has passed its era by. The graphics are basically ten years old, updates notwithstanding; the mechanics are ancient; subscribers have dropped substantially; the playerbase itself is getting older. Can you imagine a 16 year old getting really into World of Warcraft today? I didn’t think so. Neither could you imagine a teen getting really into The Simpsons. The show and the game still reflect the particular eras they were born in, and they don’t necessarily have broader appeal.

That doesn’t mean that World of Warcraft has to die, no more than The Simpsons has. But it does mean WoW will become, more and more, a shadow of what it once was. It will become more and more irrelevant, just as The Simpsons has, just as even South Park has, loath though I am to admit it. But Warcraft beats on, boats against the current: It shall slowly become an exercise in nostalgia. Blizzard supports the game actively enough that this hasn’t happened yet, but it will. The game is like a classic car. It represents something about an earlier time that will never come again. And yet, like The Simpsons, it still endures.

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