Attempting to clone LoL has been the FOTM in the gaming industry ever since Riot started seeing it’s amazing success. Luckily for most dev studios LoL is not an MMO, but the fact that it is a PvP game will expose lesser games faster than creating yet another fantasy PvE MMO. While an average game could get away with just copying basic PvE concepts and have the players catch on slowly (or not care), PvP is a different animal.
You can’t slip ‘just ok’ design by PvP players. You can no longer ignore the top 5% who clear your PvE content in a day using some class/talent combo you did not plan for, because now that top 5% is exposing your flaws to everyone, and everyone can follow along and exploit an imbalanced champion or build. Whether the results are the same or not is secondary, as the perception of a problem is enough to leave a bad impression or cause a forum shitstorm.
Another factor to watch will be the business model. League of Legends, currently by far the most popular MOBA title, does not sell power. Titles such as World of Tanks do, and its popularity shows that there are plenty of gamers who don’t mind their wallet factoring into who wins a game. As the flood of me-too MOBA clones comes, it will be interesting to watch how many games cave into the lure of the gold ammo/character cash grab.
One factor that may influence the business model is the rise of competitive gaming. Valve is running a million dollar DOTA2 tourney right now, and Riot has trumped that with a 5 million prize pool for season two of LoL. Games that sell power are excluded from competitive play for obvious reasons, but will we ever see a game REMOVE power items from its shop and adjust design to try and solidify themselves as a truly competitive game? If prize pools and viewer numbers continue to increase, we just might.