Some of this can be attributed to WoW's success. The game's critical esteem and massive subscriber-base promise a very consistent and well-maintained MMO experience, so it's little surprise that when a smaller MMO's subscriber-base declines, WoW's inflates. "We see a lot of MMOs like that, where they get two-to-three months of a good reaction, and then their player-base disappears," says Flying Lab Software chief executive Russell Williams. "Where? Well … they go back to WoW!"
For the majority of MMOs released after WoW, this rings true. After being released in 2006, Turbine's hyped and well-reviewed Dungeons & Dragons Online declined from 90,000 subscribers to 50,000 within a few months. A year later, SOE's Vanguard: Saga of Heroes lost 80,000 subscribers after its 120,000 peak in a similar amount of time. Other big-budget MMOs - 2006's Auto Assault, notably - can't even garner enough users to keep running for more than a year.