Ok so every now and then people would spam on the World of Warcraft General forums that a game and later event/movie/book/person/joke/etc would kill WoW. All wrong unfortunately.
Wrath of the Lich King as per the title will kill World of Warcraft.
Because the game will have moved too far from the ability of newer players to be able to pick it up in any meaningful sense. It will have become overly complicated at a time when it needs to be less complicated because the people attracted to the game now are not first movers. They are the late adapters whom expect what ever technology they are using to be simplified and easy to use and understand.
Now developing newer and harder challenges isn’t the problem. You could do that and still attract late adapters. Simply because all the early challengers have been done so many times and the optimal solutions for each challenge has been found.
The problem is that Blizzard is throwing all those challenges away and replacing them with harder and newer challenges. Which for your new player means that there is a massive gap in their learning curve at level 60 where they’ve skipped running 20/40 man raids and even all the old 5/10 man instances people learned the basics of team work on.
Now with Wrath of the Lich King there will be two gaps. One at 60 and another at 70.
Another problem is the failing of institutions to help people learn the game. With the intense focus on the latest content and very few new USA servers released it means that newer players will be jumping onto established servers. Sound great right? All those experienced players to help you out? Wrong!
Leveling in WoW on an established server isn’t so much as a learning experience as it is a hazing experience. See all those other people around your level. Either they are as noob as you or they are players leveling alts whom “know” how to play. So you’ll either learn very little from them or be called a noob and learn very little from them.
See if your leveling an alt it’s because you want another maximum level character as quickly as possible. Simply because you want that character to catch upto your main characters progression as soon as possible so they can take over. Probably because you don’t much like your old main character. Which means that you’ve probably got a short fuse with people whom don’t know how to play because they are wasting your time.
So there you have it. Massive gaps in the learning curve and non-fuctional institutions that haze new members = the end of wow.
I suspect that a bunch of more specialised, simplier and easier MMORPGs tailoring to the specific things that people want from MMORPGs will start to emerge and already have in some cases.