World of Warcraft has long ruled the roost as the biggest paid MMO in the world of gaming. Boasting over 12 million subscribers at its peak, WoW is now the example developers use when hoping for the success of their MMO properties. But recent years haven?t been good for WoW, and the game is finally feeling the sting of stagnation and unprecedented competition.

Free-to-play games like League of Legends, Runes of Magic and Allods have taken a big piece of the MMO pie, and paid games such as Star Wars: The Old Republic and Rift are quickly sucking up the rest. It?s not that World of Warcraft is a bad game ? it?s not. The problem is simply that WoW players have been enjoying that world for six years and many simply feel that it?s time to move on.

World of Warcraft lost two million subscribers in 2011, which, when compared to its 12 million subscriber roster, doesn?t seem like too much. However, plenty of WoW players are testing the waters in new MMOs, and you shouldn?t expect any sudden upswing in WoW subscription numbers. The recently announced Mists of Pandaria expansion has done little to renew faith in the brand.

WoW was, for a time, the king of all MMORPG games. Sadly, its reign must now come to an end. 2012 is the year of new games, with SWTOR likely operating as the primary challenger.