Wow Kristi, the title of your thread is laughable at best. How can you say such a thing? Simple. Because it is true. It is true so long as game designers miss the very things that made World of Warcraft a success and fail to follow suit. Before you start flaming me and tossing insult bombs my way, please "read" why I think the way I do. Then if what I have said still makes you wish to flog me with a flaming cat-o-nine tails and then laugh as you toss salt onto my wounds - have at it. I can take it.
OK, so why will no new premium AAA pay to play game ever kill World of Warcraft. Well to begin with, you have to look at the one thing that made World of Warcraft such a success to begin with. Blizzard knew their player base. They knew their target audience. They went so far as to even ask players what they would like to see in their game and then to top it off they didn't even have an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) like so many other games. Blizzard was really open and honest about their game. No hush, hush or we're not saying, or we cannot discuss that right now. Nope. Blizzard developers and designers said this is what the game is and this is what you're getting and if we cannot do a particular thing this time we'll try to get it in at a later date. That in itself was awesome and no game company to this date has been so open about their game,
Then lets look at the game. It was designed to be played on computers that your average house hold might have. You didn't need a super computer to run the thing. If you're computer was nothing more than a monitor attached to a hand-held calculator from a gumball machine, you might find in your local super market , WoW could probably run on it. World of Warcraft was programmed by the McGyver's of the game design world. They managed to create a game that was huge in scope and yet easily accessible by the masses. Anyone and everyone could play World of Warcraft on their computer.
Advertising. Blizzard got this right and continues to get it right. They advertise their game and they do it like no other company does. They target their audience with great graphical theatrics type posters and cardboard cut-outs. Go into any legitimate game store and you see what I am talking about. You can't help but gaze at the colorful box covers or the beautiful unique artwork you'll see on their display stands. Like a fancy plumed peacock looking for some loving Blizzard's colorful advertisement screams - "Look at me!" - and people do. Then they buy it - because it looks so very colorful and wonderful - in a Disneyesque sorta way. Blizzard's art department knows their stuff. They know how to make people sit up and take notice and their advertising people make use of this. It works - because World of Warcraft is constantly in the top of games sold across the world.
The game is simple to learn. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to play World of Warcraft when you first get into the game. Again this comes into the realm of accessibility. Blizzard took a lot of the steep learning curve that generally comes with a game of this genre and smoothed it out. Then once the person gets a feel for the game the learning curve goes up a notch. Then another and then another. World of Warcraft is what most games should aim for - easy to learn but hard to master. There are many ways to build a character and then to play that character once you get to the end game. It takes some serious number crunching and knowing how to spec out your toon to get the most out of them and it is not for the faint of heart. I say this because once you figure out what it is you'll need to do in order to optimize your character to get the most out of them - you, like me want to just scream. OMG I have to do what and go where to get that? It's going to take how many people to do it? Are you kidding me? Nope. Once you get to that level of play in World of Warcraft you are definitely crunching the numbers and learning to master the game.
Let's look at another aspect that many people over look. The game is filled with fun and funny stuff. The people at Blizzard have a wonderful sense of humor. Their game is laced with Easter eggs and satire the likes of which have never been seen - except maybe in your favorite episode of Family Guy, the Simpson's or South Park. Seriously...you have to admit, those things help take the edge off and they seem to do it when you least expect it. This is good. It lightens the mood and reminds you, the player, this is game - enjoy it - do not take it to seriously. LOL! You know subliminal messaging is alive and well and Blizzard does it so very well. Remember "Stay away from the Voodoo man." LOL! OMG you have to love it.
Polish and more polish and when you are done with that polishing - let's polish it some more! Face it. Blizzard gave gamers the kind of game we like. A game almost devoid of bugs and polished like no other game that came before it. The game in this respect has not been matched since. Oh sure there have been other games that were pretty much bugless when launched like City of Hero's, but City of Hero's was not as big and did not have the same kind of seamless world nor the depth of game play World of Warcraft had when it launched. What Blizzard did was set a new standard for how games should be when they are launched and no game company since WoW's release has even remotely come close to how polished and bug free World of Warcraft was at launch. If more companies put as much effort into the little things as well as the big things in their game and made sure they worked as well - there would be more games with subscription numbers as high as World of Warcrafts. Unfortunately though to many of these game companies do not seem to realize this one very important aspect to a successful game. So get to polishing - woops! You missed a spot! "Where?" There silly developer - right there! ::points:: Hopeless I tell you - just hopeless. When are the other companies ever going to learn. ::shakes her head::
Know your audience! Know your market! Know your product! Blizzard knew this. They knew it well before WoW Online was even a thought in a designers mind . Remember these are the same guys that delivered such games as Starcraft and Diablo to the gaming masses. Let's take Diablo. Diablo was one of the most played games online even before Ultimate Online was out people were playing Diablo. Diablo had upwards of 4 million people playing it at one time. Think about it. That was back in 1996! Even then Blizzard was doing something right. They gave players what they wanted and they learned how to do it. Is it any wonder why World of Warcraft is such a success? Seriously. Think about it. Blizzard cut their teeth many years ago when they designed and launched Diablo. They knew they had a goldmine - even back then. Foreshadowing of things to come? Possibly. But one thing is for certain, that experience Blizzard garnered from Diablo was incredibly valuable to them when it came to creating World of Warcraft and it shows. Sorry people, but Blizzard was way ahead of their game when they launched World of Warcraft and they can thank Diablo for that. Diablo showed them the way and Blizzard took it and ran with it.
They took the knowledge Diablo gave them, and the knowledge of other online games like Ultime Online, EverQuest and such and then made World of Warcraft. They knew what they wanted in their game and then set about doing it. They took this from EQ and that from UO and that from DAoC and oh yea that from AC2 and this from Diablo and then made them part of their game and did it better. They didn't try to re-invent the wheel - Blizzard created it! What the others had done before in MMORPG's was "try to invent a well running wheel". One that didn't wobble or creak or go thump, thump, thump when it was running because it wasn't round enough. They all just managed to get by with their thump, thump thumps and wobbly, creaking wheel. No Blizzard took that wheel and made it round, and then they added a rubber tire to it, and then they took that tire and galvanized the rubber and they added treads and in the end Blizzard gave us the wheel we were all looking for. They could do this because Blizzard really did invent the wheel long ago...and back then they called it Diablo.
These key things are why World of Warcraft was and remains such a success. Until other companies follow suit and use plays out of Blizzards play book - there will never be another game that is as successful as World of Warcraft and there will never be another game that kills it. Sorry.
Addendum: Do not think I am advocating game designers to make nothing but cookie cutter games like World of Warcraft because I am not. What I am doing is pointing out the key ingredients as to why World of Warcraft is such a success. That is all. If game makers like Funcom and SOE ever expect to get the kind of subscription numbers Blizzard sees with their games then they need to really just follow the simple steps Blizzard took to make WoW. It didn't take rocket science to figure out what made WoW such a success. It just took common sense and that seems to be one thing that many game companies and publishers lack.
Another Addendum: This article is about a pay 2 play subscription game and its impact on other premium p2p games and how they do in the North American and European Market. Sorry I was not more clear about this. I did not realize that so many people that visit this website are from anywhere but the US/Canada and Europe. Forgive me for making that mistake. Thank you in advance.