In the most recent SUWT podcast (always good stuff btw), the crew got off on a tangent when talking about the cultural differences between players of EVE Online and WoW. EVE players embrace scams, trickery, underhandedness, and generally resent any changes that would ‘dumb down’ EVE. In WoW that gets you quickly banned, and before that rivers swell from all the tears shed while players scream mommy.
The ‘why’ of the issue is of course multi-faceted. One major factor would be the game rules. EVE is harsh on day one, and stays that way. WoW holds your hand from 1-80, and makes sure you get a cookie regardless if you win or lose. EVE not only takes your cookie, but laughs at you for bringing one in the first place. Another factor is overall complexity. To really succeed in EVE, you have to know what you are doing and pay attention. You can’t just run a mod and become a market genius, watching the money flow in endlessly. You can read all the guides you can find, but more often than not you actually have to make a few costly mistakes before you learn something in EVE. The rewards are often more meaningful, but the path is also far more difficult.
The rules of any given MMO are, in many ways, a modified version of natural selection. EVE quickly breeds out the ‘weak’ MMO players, and only those who can survive in the ‘sandbox with mines’ stay around and thrive. On the other hand, with its super low barrier of entry, WoW is accessible to anyone with enough brain cells to double click an icon. When Blizzard marketed WotLK stating “Your definition of epic will be shattered”, they might be referring to the fact that even brain-dead monkeys will shortly be decked out in ‘epic’ gear. The definition has indeed been shattered, to an all-time low. The argument that “11 million gamers can’t be wrong” holds about as much water as stating that McDonalds is as good as it gets for food, since 1 billion customers can’t be wrong…
In most games, who else is playing is generally a non-factor. I’ll enjoy Fallout 3 regardless of who else picks it up, but this same rule does not apply in an MMO. We log on and interact with the world around us, and if everyone around us is an ignorant 13 year old who still thinks its cool to be an e-thug, that seriously impacts my enjoyment. PUG groups in WoW are a perfect example of this. Outside of WoW, pickup groups are an excepted and encouraged part of an MMO, yet in WoW they are avoided like the plague. To further complicate the matter, Blizzard’s solution was to remove almost any need for a PUG until the very end, brushing the problem under the rug rather than addressing it directly.
While listening to the discussion, it got me thinking about the direction Mythic can take with Warhammer. While it’s no EVE, WAR has yet to reach even 2004 WoW, let alone the 2008 version, in terms of challenge and player accountability. It will be interesting to see whether Mythic has the patience of CCP (the makers of EVE) to grow their vision and let their game mature naturally, or if they try to go for the quick sellout and dumb everything down, trying to appeal to the zombie masses. While making money is certainly the goal of any company, it’s not always the one and only goal. At some point pride in what you do factors in, and sometimes providing a higher level of service supersedes cutting every corner to chase every last penny. Hopefully Mythic caters to the fans they have, rather then excluding them for ones they don’t.