Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment wanted to make a big splash in the video game world back in March when it introduced “Matrix Online,” a massively multiplayer online game based on the once-hot film franchise. The game made a big splash all right,Guest Posting like a belly flop.
Over its first three months the game signed up fewer than 50,000 subscribers, a pittance, so in June, Warner cut bait and agreed to sell the game to Sony. Last month “Matrix Online” was downsized from nine virtual “realms” to three, because users were having a hard time finding one another in the game’s vast digital ghost town.
The troubles of “Matrix Online” were partly of Warner’s own making; many players and critics agree that the game is a mediocre experience. But the online market used to make room for mediocre games. Now, the broader phenomenon is that so many contenders, including “Matrix Online,” simply cannot stand up to the overwhelming popularity of online gaming’s new leviathan: “World of Warcraft,” made by Blizzard Entertainment, based in Irvine, Calif.
With its finely polished, subtly humorous rendition of fantasy gaming – complete with orcs, mages, dragons and demons – “World of Warcraft” has become such a runaway success that it is now prompting a debate about whether it is helping the overall industry by bringing millions of new players into subscription-based online gaming or hurting the