At first glance, Elite: Dangerous, which launches December 16, looks like just the latest in a long line of wannabe massively multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORPGs). While conventional video games can succeed without accumulating tons of fans, an MMORPG lives and dies by its number of users, similar to a social network. You might love the idea of Ello, but if all your friends are on Twitter and Facebook you're unlikely to make the switch. (In the gaming world, this effect is best illustrated by the bizarre persistence of the original Runescape, a world offering such bountiful pleasures as "hours and hours of hitting rocks with pickaxes", "mind numbing, redundant sword fights", and "more hitting rocks with pickaxes".) Similarly, how likely are you to buy a subscription to a new fantasy world if all your friends are busy slaying dragons in World of Warcraft?