The first bits of ‘news’ are coming out of GDC, and one very interesting bit I read today comes from a discussion called ‘Future of MMOs’ featuring Cryptic Studios’ Jack Emmert, NCsoft Matt Miller, BioWare’s Ray Muzyka, Nexon’s Min Kim, and finally Blizzard’s Rob Pardo.
While everything said was fairly interesting, the one thing that really struck me was the general fear of WoW. Multiple times someone stated that investors and developers do not want to go up against WoW, but rather find other markets to try and gather customers. Rob had the following to say:
I’m delighted as a business person that nobody wants to make an MMO because Blizzard set the bar too high. But as a game player, I’m disappointed. I wants to see more stuff out there. But you’re not just competing against WoW anymore, you’re competing with WoW + expansions. Direct contrast is hard, because you’re always playing catchup.
I’m sure the guys from EA Mythic would not have been as easily frightened as the rest of the crew up there, and I would have loved for Paul Barnett to be sitting up at the panel and hear his response. Sadly he was not there, so we will never know his reaction.
I also think the fact that WoW has ‘expansions’ (hi you only have one, and will delay the 2nd till xmas) is a plus, but is offset by the fact that you have an aging graphics engine and other general problems that develop with an MMO being up for a long time (mudflation and such)
What I do think is interesting is that this puts more pressure, in a way, on Warhammer Online being successful. If it is, it will show that you can indeed compete with WoW instead of running from it, and that while WoW may have nailed the solo PvE market perfectly, there are many other aspects of MMOs that can be focused on and used to sell a game. I think if WAR fails, and the reason for the failure is WoW more than anything else, it will indeed be a sad time for MMO gaming. Instead of getting more triple A quality games, we will see a slew of micro transaction mini-game crap in every color under the rainbow, each game just hoping to attract enough players to keep the servers up and a bit of money streaming in. In addition, we will continue to see more WoW-like MMOs, just with different shades of neon or pastel filling the screen.
So lets all hope that WAR is a success, the fate of the (mmo) world might depend on it!