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Blizzard Entertainment's flagship MMORPG World of Warcraft will be celebrating its 15th birthday later this year, and as a result, the editors over at PC Gamer have put together a list of 25 MMOs that tried to go up against the champ over the years, but didn't quite manage to find a lasting success. Here are a few examples:
World of Warcraft launched in 2004. That makes World of Warcraft 15 years old, the age of an unruly teen who spends all their time playing World of Warcraft. And the cycle begins anew with the impending release of World of Warcraft: Classic, now in closed beta. Visiting Azeroth on the ground level for the first time, again, has been jarring for players, new and old. Vanilla features are getting reported as bugs and the much, much slower climb to the level cap sans the 15 years of quality of life changes and side activities will certainly lead to many gaunt-eyed staring contests in the mirror. Time has been kind to World of Warcraft. It hasn't been kind to our ideas of what it once was.
But it's been even meaner to all the MMOs that wanted a little nook in the caverns of our minds next to WoW. Like battle royale and mobas and survival games before that, MMOs were once the hottest shit. Being the next WoW felt like it was on every studio's agenda. Some MMOs found footing, but nothing ever toppled WoW. Let's remember the fallen (and the too-obscure-to-remember-it-fell-at-all). Here's a look at some of the notable MMOs that came and went during WoW's lifetime, with plenty of freemium MMOs skipped over for the sake of brevity.
City of Heroes
Release date: April 28, 2004
Died: November 2012
City of Heroes was a fairly popular MMORPG in which players assumed the role of a superhero and chose their own powers, combating gangs and criminal organizations across Paragon City. All servers shut down on November 30, 2012. A secret fan server has kept things going for over six years, though.
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
Release date: September 2008
Warhammer's big MMO adaptation launched with a bang and offered some awesome large scale PvP with its Realm vs. Realm battles, but it had trouble holding onto players after the initial hype died down and the flaws became more apparent. Low subscriber counts led Mythic Entertainment to shut services down in 2013, though fan servers still persist.
Release date: June 2014
Died: November 2018
Despite a catchy mix of fantasy and sci-fi and a largely positive reception, Wildstar couldn't keep enough players around to justify the on-going costs. Developer Carbine Studios closed in September 2018 and Wildstar shut down shortly after in November 2018.