Tobold has a rather popular (based on replies) post with a simple premise; would you buy WoW if it was a single player game? The immediate reaction I think most people have is ‘no’, because logging on and seeing other players running around or chatting in the different chat channels is just something all WoW players have grown accustomed to.
But with all the changes to WoW since release, especially with the 2.3 patch and how it applies to the old world content, does old world WoW really need to be online? Most zones are void of life, almost all quests can be completed solo regardless of your class, and the XP system in WoW actually encourages players to solo.
If you repackaged the 1-60 game in WoW and sold it as a $30 box in stores as a single player no monthly fee game, I think it would sell like crazy. The low system specs combined with the still serviceable graphics would mean the game is highly accessible, even more so now that you have removed the internet connection and monthly fee requirements.
A few people point out that offline, the grindy gameplay would be more obvious to the player, and that would ruin the enjoyment, yet I can’t help but ask how that is any different than what the majority of WoW is now, pre-70? People avoid PUGs, and most guilds are either raiding or PvP focused, two aspects that would be removed from single player WoW. Give the single game a 5 or 10 player hosting option, and you cover the ‘I just play with my friends’ crowd as well.
To me the more important issue raised by this is not whether it would sell, but on how this reflects on MMOs in general. Do the majority of MMO players really just desire a single player game? How is it that a genre built around the ideas of player interaction and a virtual world has transformed into a monthly fee single player game? And is this the natural evolution of the MMO market, or is WoW just an odd phenom, and once the phenom is over, do we go back to the ‘norm’ before it? Or has WoW changed the MMO space forever, leaving behind it a trail of online single player games?