Yet Another September: AOL, World of Warcraft, and Niche Markets

How to Cite

op’tLand, R. (2009). Yet Another September: AOL, World of Warcraft, and Niche Markets. Stream: Interdisciplinary Journal of Communication, 2(1), 10–17.


Since it’s introduction in November 2004, World of Warcraft (WoW) has exploded in popularity within the sphere of Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMOs), dominating the field with over 11.5 million monthly subscribers, an order of magnitude larger than its nearest competitor (Woodcock, 2008). It has become a pop-culture phenomenon, parodied in South Park, promoted by William Shatner, and fiercely defended by its proponents. However, much of the current analysis of the game itself has been on the activities and functions that occur within its virtual space (Ducheneaut, et. al., 2006). The exogenous processes by which WoW came to dominate in its sphere have been under-explored, and the effect their marketplace entry had on established groups within that sphere has been neglected. In this paper, I propose that similarities to what WoW has accomplished in the MMO market can be found in the rise of America Online (AOL) in the early 1990’s, and its effect on the existing service providers and systems of the nascent internet. Exemplifying this is the opening of UseNet to its users in 1993, the infamous “September That Never Ended.â€