Running scared from the WoW monster. We need a hero!

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!

16 Responses to Running scared from the WoW monster. We need a hero!

  1. Talyn says:

    While I’m happy you’re excited and looking forward to WAR, I do get concerned sometimes you’re sliding down that slippery path toward fanboy-ism? Just an observation…

    Perhaps it’s just me and my lengthy disinterest in the Warhammer IP, I just can’t muster any interest in WAR. At all. “Wowhammer” with “new and improved PvP!” just isn’t cutting it.

  2. Brandstone says:

    I don’t think the WoW monster is soloable, but the combined forces of Warhammer Online, Age of Conan, Spore, etc will hopefully loosen it’s hold on the market.

  3. syncaine says:

    I think you could solo it with that wowtoolbox, since with it you can one hit elites and stuff.

    Please no one go looking for wowtoolbox, its a scam site, and the above was a joke. I agree though, the coming year does have a lot of potential great games.

    And yea Talyn, I think at this point I am in fanboi territory, simply because I’ve invested a lot of hope into WAR, and if it fails I don’t really have a backup plan other than a glimmer of hope for AoC. But unlike you, I’ve been a huge fan of the Warhammer IP since back in middle school when I played the table top game. Even after I stopped painting models I still loved getting the army books and such just for the lore. For whatever reason I just find it interesting stuff. Which really explains why I loved everything Warcraft since the first game.

  4. mandrill says:

    There are some interesting ideas on the horizon. Disregarding all the WoW clones using the usual fantasy setting we have the following coming in the future:

    The Agency, an espionage MMO with gadgets and guns, though I’ll admit to low expectations, it being developed for the PS3 as well as the PC.

    World of Darkness, Based on the White Wolf pen and paper RPG and being developed by CCP. In my opinion this is a match made in MMO heaven, A grown up RPG being brought to digital reality by the only company to have produced a grown up MMO. Imagine a third person MMO where the politics, economics and interactions are entirely player driven, then imagine being able to play Vampires, Werewolves, Mages, and others in this MMO in a modern setting. This is what I believe CCP capable of producing and if it turns out otherwise I’ll be terribly dissapointed.

    Age Of Conan, Yes its another fantasy title but I think this deserves mention as it seems to be a more mature fantasy than the stereotypical species that we have seen to date. Break out the chainmail bikini’s and baby oil.

    Then there’s the more oddball titles like World of Sports. Not my kind of thing at all but I know alot of people that it would appeal to.

    We also have a rumoured cops and robbers MMO from the makers of Crackdown, and if someone is willing to pick up the pieces of Star Trek Online the MMO family could get alot more varied.

    I think the problem with MMO’s at the moment is that it is thought, by those in the industry aswell as those on the outside as still being a very niche market. It isn’t really, there are niches within the MMO market which has the potential to be just as varied as the non-MMO games market. With theme parks, sandboxes, pool halls, drive-ins, bowling alleys, shooting ranges, and any other amusement type metaphor you care to throw in. We are present at the birth of MMOs it doesn’t make sense to say that WoW is the pinnacle of the form when it is merely the first of many high points.

  5. Talyn says:

    My only venture with the WoD was Mage and even then, I was never able to find players so owning the original book was basically the beginning and end of WoD for me.

    Based on the PnP RPG’s I *do* have experience with back in the day, I’d say paper and pixel DO NOT mix. Look at D&D… in my opinion Turbine did the best they could with DDO (even if it’s rather Monty Haul-ish) because D&D simply does not lend itself to being what most of consider a “true” MMORPG. I’d be in fanboi heaven if a AAA-quality Rifts MMORPG were announced but it can’t be done and still keep the rules intact. Turbine could easily have made Eberron Online and thrown out the majority of D&D rules (Forgotten Realms Online would be nice but Wizards of the Coast wants to push their own IP). D&D, Rifts, and pretty much every RPG I ever played is *impossible* to realize as an MMORPG if the PnP ruleset isn’t heavily tweaked or outright discarded.

    I vaguely recall WoD had a very different rules system, so perhaps it *might* be the exception to the rule? We won’t know really, until CCP releases details of how they’re handling the whole thing.

  6. Swift Voyager says:

    In the article you quoted, one of the speakers mentioned “World of Starcraft”. That got me thinking about Blizzard trying to do another MMO and what that would/could mean for WoW. Would WoS be able to compete with WoW? IF they closed down the WoW servers at a strategic time, could they lure WoW players right over to WoS in stead? Would they need to close WoW in order to release another MMO? In other words, are we seeing the peak number of MMO players right now, or is there some vast, untapped reservoir of potential MMO subscribers just waiting for the next non-WoW super-hit game?

    I know that two years ago I looked at those dirty little subscription games on the shelf at BB and was glad they kept them in a seperate section. I would have never imagined that I’d be an MMO enthusiast this year. I’m guessing that the market is changing, but the average non-MMO player probably only has this vague WoW-ish concept of what an MMO is like. For me it took a friend two months of constant hounding to get me to try an MMO trial account. I think that’s probably about the measure of what it will take to get a significant number of new MMO players online. If EA/Mythic can afford the huge media blitz that it’ll take to get the news out then they MAY stand a chance. Asking dedicated WoW players to give it up is like asking someone to give up a housepet. People develop strong emotional ties to MMO games. You can’t just say “this MMO is better” or “this MMO is different” and expect people to change games for the same reason that people aren’t willing to trade in their dog for one that sheds less or plays in the yard more.

  7. Jezebeau says:

    I actually count the fact that WoW now has “expansions” against it. As far as WoW is concerned, “expansion” just means “100+ hours you have to grind into your character before you can join the population”. They may have perfected solo PvE, but that doesn’t mean I want to wander a wasteland for that long. New games will have fresh content with a slew of people in your level range, from the get go.

    I don’t understand the fear of WoW. WoW is a static entity. It’s not fighting back. I think the reason it’s so far ahead is that it has soft edges. Rather than touting amazing, superunique features that had to be imported from an alternate dimension, and how they’re “taking MMOs to the next level”, Blizzard appears to have focused on sanding down the rough edges that drive people away. In too many new games, the annoying idiosyncrasies outweigh the special features (or sometimes are the special features), a la Vanguard.

  8. mandrill says:

    Talyn,
    I too failed to find anyone to play WoD with, and only got as far as owning the books for Mage and Wraith, though I did read alot of the others and found the universe compelling. I did however play a Cthulu based game using the WoD mechanics and the result was quite good. The thing about WoD as I understand it is that the focus is on the story, the narrative, created by the players (and yes I’m counting the GM as a player too). This is also what EVE is good at. The best stories are not those scripted by CCP, they merely act as a backdrop for the really great stories, completely driven by the players.

    I know I said it in my last comment but I’ll say again: If anyone can pull off a WoD MMO that is as steeped in intrigue, subterfuge, politics and Machiavellian machinations as the PnP was, CCP can. They will need the players to do it though. I plan on being one of them.

    Jezebeau,
    You’ve hit the nail on the head there, WoW does nothing groundbreaking, but what it does it does very well indeed. The last few MMO’s that have promised great innovation (Fury, Tabula Rasa to name two) have been damp squibs as far as I can see. The thing is that doing something that has been done before, but better, won’t cut it for ever. Innovation is what drives the entire games industry, and better that it happens and sometimes fails than it doesn’t happen at all.

  9. syncaine says:

    While anything by CCP certainly has my interest, how far off is WoD? It’s not coming out anytime soon is it?

  10. Talyn says:

    @Jezebeau: the only ‘problem’ I see with that line of reasoning is (and I’ve seen this in new games) WoW has taught us that the whole ‘leveling’ process doesn’t matter, only the end-game matters, so get there ASAP. And that’s what’s happening in newer games, everyone rushes to the (nearly non-existent in new games) “end-game” and there’s no one left in the low and mid-level zones. Gee, I forget… have I mentioned that levels suck? :D

  11. nuyan says:

    Syncaine, what are your thoughts on Darkfall Online actually? Isn’t it exactly what you want of a MMO feature-wise?

    And don’t expect WoD before 2010.

  12. syncaine says:

    Yea Darkfall might be, but it’s been in/out for so long now I’m just not going to bother until it’s actually in open beta or something close. I try to only really look at games coming out within 3-6 months.

  13. Talyn says:

    What about Earthrise? Or are you strictly a fantasy guy?

    I gotta say, I’m way looking forward (now, anyway) to Earthrise. Seems like they’re taking the best aspects of the “real” SWG, the best aspects of EVE and kickin’ them up a notch in a post-apocalyptic Earth setting. Skills-based, sandbox, open pvp, looting, meaningful pvp… oh yeah… Darkfall? Meh. If it ever actually comes out, I might give it a glance, but jeez, how many swords do I have to swing before I just stop caring about fantasy?

  14. syncaine says:

    Have not heard much about Earthrise, other than that it could be EVE-like. I don’t know how I feel about that. As fun as EVE can be, it might be all the sci-fi I need/want in my MMO gaming. Hence why I’m looking forward to WAR as much as I am, as nothing does it for me as much as a quality fantasy-based PvP MMO.

  15. derek says:

    can you get me to lvl 40

  16. Dajek says:

    short comment to prove eager, sit somthin in ya boot call me now”THE MONSTER ADVENGER” think its all fund but guess you are about to talk to the biggest monster by tomoorow if ya let this opportunity i offer ya to slip by ,then regrets ain’t gonna solve no shit and ya already know that

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