The above is a chart of Google searches for Runescape and World of Warcraft for the last 10 years.
Blue is Runescape and Red is World of Warcraft.
Both World of Warcraft and Runescape are losing players.
Google Trends reports amount of Google searches for a term.
The correlation isn't direct. But let's assume that as people lose interest in a subject, there will be fewer searches for it on Google.
Those that already know about the game won't be searching for the terms, but significantly perhaps new players would be most likely to. And neither game seems to be attracting new players in numbers that are greater than the numbers leaving.
The other thing to note is that this is a two dimensional number recording a four dimensional system in a complex environment.
Let's take a look at the graphs, we can see they both spiral up to a peak in 2007 and then spiral down continuously until the present day.
We can see they both have seasonal fluctuations and have other peaks and troughs due to various actions of their own. But overall it looks like the main trend is not reversible given current management strategies. Assuming management wants to reverse the trend.
World of Warcraft and Runescape from this chart, and from both being MMOs, seem to have a close relationship. Despite widely different approaches. WoW is a premium monthly membership game with updates on a yearly basis. Runescape was a free MMO with an additional membership for extra content, and updates on a fortnightly basis.
Runescape was the technically inferior, but had easier access due to lower system requirements.
WoW dominates the market with its premium content and pricing.
In Runescape the great dividing line is often quoted as 2007. The year one line of code changed and interest in Runescape began to decline. That one line of code was the removal of player trade. Which was done to prevent player scamming of credit cards and player accounts, which banks were starting to lose patience with.
Oddly WoW also seems to peak in 2007 but it didn't have a large controversial update like the 2007 removal of trade.
When we look at these charts we are looking at hundreds of millions of resultant accounts being signed up. In Runescape's case over 200 million accounts created and an all time high of 2-3 million concurrent subscriber accounts. WoW had 12 million subscribers at its peak.