Alright, if you’re a frequent visitor to this website (and I’d guess you’d have to be if you were reading the blogs here) then you have no doubt seen MMORPG’s choice for Game Of The Year. Those of you who may have missed the 2009 choice may be a little surprised to find that it is not World of Warcraft but instead EVE Online.
Wait. Did he just say EVE Online won Game Of The Year? That’s right! It seems the forgone conclusion of the 800lb gorilla in the corner always getting the big banana by the majority of us (the reader), whether we wanted WoW to win or not, was wrong. This reader is rather relieved to be honest. As I’ve said before I don’t have any proactive hatred toward WoW. It’s just not style/detail for an MMO.
And out of the woodwork they came...
You may have noticed the level of kicking and screaming has gone up exponentially since the release of this choice by our website hosts. Practically, what would you expect? I mean, a game with a last reported 12 million subscribers certainly would have it share of members of this site. You would expect them to come to the thread releated to the announcement and chime in their disappointment in their title not winning. That’s what any game’s patron would/should do, right?
I had no particular dog in the race as I’m not subscribed to any of the games that made the list (I’ve played LOTRO, EvE and WoW, not played Aion or Wizards 101) and had lost a measure of interest in the vote as I had, as mentioned above, just written it off that WoW would be selected (which isn’t to say I think it deserved to be). Learning that EvE won brought a swift smile to my face. Why? I’m a firm believer, card carrying member of a line of thought that thinks that the ridiculous success level that WoW has garnered has done more harm to the MMO genre than good. Now, that’s not to say that the game hasn’t done any good for the genre. It is saying, however, that the negatives outweigh the positives in my view.
I will never speak to any men if I ever go to Brussels. Especially the tall muscular ones.
One of the loudest angry cries heard on the thread related to this vote is that WoW should win the award because it has the most subscriptions. I don’t have really a whole lot to say to this because I find it one of the most clueless, unsophisticated responses to have ever been used in any attempt of MMO conversation or debate. Considering that the estimated population of Austrailia for 2010 is over 22 million people and factoring in that there are many, many millions of people throughout the rest of the world who may enjoy it doesn’t make Vegemite taste any better. I’ve tried it. I spit it out and used the sprayer from the kitchen sink to try and rinse the taste out. It’s nasty.
Does the fact that millions of people eat Vegemite or Marmite make it universally and annually the “best” spread out there? No. While WoW in comparison to other MMOs isn’t the “best” for different reasons than Vegemite and its peers, the basic rule still applies: Might does not always make right. Just because WoW has the number of subscribers it retains does not make the gameplay and design of the game the right and only way to do it to be fun and engaging. This is where I personally found MMORPG.com’s vote for EVE Online most satisfying. It flys in the face of that line of thinking and puts it out there that there are other ways of making an MMO that should be further explored. In light of recent releases it seems that the industries insiders should take a long listen. There are a few older titles out there with very different gameplay structures from which many more sim-like MMMOs can be constructed.
This has been the status quo. Will it change in 2010?
Will they listen? Who knows? The diversity that would come to the field of MMOs that would be experienced by the larger companies stepping outside of the Blizzard MMO design box would certainly be a warmly received by a significant number of MMO gamers, certainly.
A key factor in the growth of this genre is the separation of the various development houses from the myth that the WoW way is the way. WoW not taking home the big award from this site and hopefully others hopefully marks a key point in the design department new games being started this year and some that have only been in pre-production a short time. While the efforts of independent houses is appreciated and necessary, solid growth and diversity comes mainly with the larger houses who have the resources to do it fully and relatively polished (though many would say that they haven’t done the latter two very well of late).