In an industry where games barely even a month old are slashed in price then swiftly forgotten, World of Warcraft is an exceptional, well, exception.
The game, which turned seven yesterday, was first announced back in 2001. For it to be still played today isn't just mind-exploding, it's a testament to how addictive and successful it's been.
To give you an idea of just old it is, I thought it'd be fun to look at the games which launched alongside it back in the holiday season of 2004. Some of them were quite good, but none of them are still played by over ten million people today.
World of Warcraft was released in North America (and Australia) on November 23, 2004. It was, and probably remains, the biggest holiday season of all time, in terms at least of the number of critically-acclaimed, blockbuster titles. And yet for all the millions of copies these games sold, they've nearly all been superseded by multiple entries in their respective series, and in some cases the platform they were released on doesn't even exist anymore.
World of Warcraft still exists, though, and has outlived the lot of 'em.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (October 26, 2004) - Without question the biggest game of the year, San Andreas went on to sell over 20 million copies, and remains to this day one of the top-selling video games of all time. I'd say it's the only game to have been played by a similar number of people overall to World of Warcraft, though it was essentially replaced in 2008 by Grand Theft Auto IV (and is even being revisited by the upcoming Grand Theft Auto V).
Counter-Strike: Source (November 1) - If San Andreas was the only game to match WoW in terms of players, this is the only one to match it in terms of significant longevity. The first, and so far only major upgrade to Valve's Counter-Strike series, it's still widely played today, and won't be superseded until the release of the upcoming Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Quite an achievement in of itself, then, but you don't get ten million people playing Counter-Strike every month like they do World of Warcraft.
Killzone (November 2) - This isn't Killzone 2. It's the first Killzone, the disappointing series debut on the PS2. What was once hoped to be a Halo-killer ended up a slow, linear trawl through drab environments. People remember Killzone 2 for its presence selling the PS3's launch, Killzone's PSP outing as being surprisingly awesome and Killzone 3 for being surprisingly fun. They're lucky to remember the first Killzone at all.
EverQuest II (November 8) - Oh, fate. It's easy to forget that in 2004 World of Warcraft was launching into an MMO market dominated by the first EverQuest, and that this game was tipped by many to give WoW serious competition, if not crush it completely with its "superior" graphics. Which, yeah, no. To its credit the game is still played and even supported with expansions today, but it's lived so long in the shadow of WoW that it must think the sun simply up and left once 2005 rolled around.
Halo 2 (November 9) - Since Halo 2 was released, we've seen three more games in the series. The console it was exclusively released on, the Xbox, is no longer available. It's looked back on now as probably the worst game of the lot, but hey, in 2004, we weren't to know that. At least its trailer is still awesome. I'd say it's one of the most effective and popular in living memory, in fact.
Need for Speed: Underground 2 (November 15) - The franchise has well and truly lost its way in the years since, but for a few brief, shining seasons while it used the name "Underground", EA's racing series was a massive hit. Not massive enough to stop it from spending the next seven years in a maddening search for identity and purpose, however.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (November 17) - Few games on this list are able to better convey the passing of time than MGS3, which has not one, but two re-releases in the pipeline, one for the Nintendo 3DS and one for the PlayStation 3. The former of which hadn't even been imagined yet, the latter which hadn't been seen by the public.
Super Mario 64 DS (November 21) - In November 2004, Nintendo was re-releasing a Nintendo 64 title as its first must-have game for a new handheld system. In 2011...well, OK, some things never change.