The Evercrack Epidemic is the name given to describe attendance slumps within the simming community experienced upon the release of the game EverQuest in 1999.
The MMORPG EverQuest was released in March 1999 and grew in popularity. By October 1999, it had 150,000 subscribers; by October 2000, 300,000. It peaked with approximately half a million subscribers in the summer of 2001. The game remained popular into the mid 2000s, but ultimately was eclipsed by World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs.
Impact on simmingEdit
EverQuest appealed to the same demographic from which simmers are typically drawn. By the early 2000s, leaders within the Simming League were swapping stories of hosts and simmers who had curtailed or ended their simming activity in favor of EverQuest. Clubs also experienced recruiting difficulties, which were blamed on the game diverting people who otherwise would have become simmers. Recruiting difficulties also lead to a marked decrease in the number of startup clubs as compared to the period of 1997 and 1998. The phenomenon became referred to as the Evercrack Epidemic, after a nickname for the game; Evercrack.
The impact was documented in the most detail by Trek Online, which lost promising simmers who were being groomed for hoisting positions, and hosts who were being groomed for senior leadership positions. A decreasing ability to recruit also caused the club's average membership to decline from 100 members for 1999 to 80 for 2000. Trek Online was ultimately forced to enter into a merger with the Dark Angel Sim Group to replenish it's numbers; a merger which later proved disastrous.
The impact was not universal; however. For example, the Starfleet Legacy Alliance was established in 2000 and quickly grew in membership by embracing a presence on the internet. The United Space Federation, from which the SLA split, was able to rebound and recover during the same period.
It is likely the effects of the Evercrack Epidemic were more keenly felt in clubs such as Trek Online that were closely tied to America Online, and that the epidemic was the first event to reval to the simming community that the future appeal of AOL was limited, if not already stressed. Over the coming years, the popularity of AOL would plummet, and clubs that did not embrace the changing internet landscape were left behind.
For the simming community, discussion of the epidemic ran its course and subsided in 2001, but EverQuest continued to grow in the minds of popular culture and the media during 2002 and 2003.