On October 28th of 2008 - just under four years after its launch - Blizzard announced that World of Warcraft had reached eleven million subscribers around the world। To put those numbers in perspective: there are more people playing WoW than there are living in Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, or New York City.
If Azeroth were a country, it would be the 75th most populated country in the world (right after Greece).
from: Escapist Magazine
I can't claim to be a avid World of Warcraft player (I wish I was, but there's this Kontagent thing that keeps getting in the way), but what I can claim to be is an early beta tester of the very first graphical MMOG, Ultima Online in 1997 (as well as being an early player of 'massively multiplayer asynchronous BBS games' like the old school, text based TradeWars on a 2400baud modem in the late 80's).
What prompted me to write this is the absolutly amazing wealth of opportunities around MMOGs on emerging devices like the iPhone, Andriod, and consumer oriented Berries -- and the emerging bridges from Mobile Phone and social networks (think Facebook Connect/etc. on iPhone -- i.e. Zynga's Texas Holdem Poker)
The difference in the opportunity that developers today have with MMOGs on emerging device vs. Warcraft on the PC include having access to....:
1) Billing Infrastructure: i.e. iphone app store
2) Impulse Billing Infrastructure: i.e. premium SMS and/or future social network connected currency platforms. iPhone app store... not so much... yet
3) Social Graph: Play with real friends, access personal data/images
4) GPS / LBS: use location as input, play/battle with people around you
5) Always On Access: Unlike your PC, your game can be always-on, in your users pocket, allow them to lose their jobs even faster!
6) Social Analytics =): (Yes, that was a blatant plug) This is of course assuming you're building a social game on an existing social network platform like some of our customers