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World of Warcraft Column: WoW Isn’t the Killer

By Robert Lashley on November 14, 2013

A couple weeks back a friend of mine sent me a direct message on Twitter and asked that I take a look at Trials of Ascension. ToA is a MMORPG in development that was attempting to get funded on Kickstarter. While ToA has some really interesting ideas I thought the presentation was lacking and did not stack up to the quality of pitches we have seen recently on KickStarter and told my friend I did not think it would get funded. In fact I told him I thought the project would get pulled before they reached the end of their campaign window. It was at this point he told me I had been wrong once before about a Kickstarter and I reminded him that I had to be wrong some of the time otherwise it would not be fair to him. Unfortunately this time I did end up being correct and ToA pulled their campaign before they reached the end of their pledge drive. Forged Chaos, the developers behind ToA, issued a mea culpa to the backers promising more refinement on their project in an attempt to make a comeback in the future. Hopefully they can find a way to make it back.

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At this point I took the time to pester my friend about how I had called it on ToA, because if you can’t pester your friends on social media when you should be working on something more productive... then what good is social media? He expressed he felt that it was a shame ToA did not make its goals and how he was hopeful that the internet might give ToA a second chance. He then went on a rant about how, “WoW is killing the genre with its spoon feeding, and its new expansion isn’t helping at all.” I could not disagree more.

I am sure we have all seen someone running around in an MMO trolling and shouting that WoW was the first MMO or some other ridiculous claim. While it is true that World of Warcraft is not the first MMO (not only had EverQuest been out for five years, its sequel EverQuest II made it to market before WoW... and neither of them were the first either) it is the first MMO that a lot of people have played. It is also the first MMO to be a mainstream success. Other MMOs may have had hundreds of thousands, but WoW was the first to have millions. WoW has done orders of magnitude more than any other MMO in expanding the genre. People that had never played a RPG before, much less an MMORPG, started playing WoW.

I am sure that most people would agree that WoW by any measure is a success. That is not to say that they have done everything right along the way. Personally I think they jumped the shark with Mists of Pandaria and while there are millions of people who still love it and play it to this day I think they could have made better choices. I was completely turned off by the Pandarans. While everyone’s personal experience is unique I do find it hard to believe I’m alone in that sentiment. At the same time I think with the new expansion Blizzard is making a smart move by returning to their roots.

I’ve hoped for years that Blizzard would make a Warcraft 4. Not because I want to see them make another RTS but for the fact they can use it as a vehicle to create new canon for the franchise. Players did not care about Arthas because he was some spoiled brat. Players cared about Arthas because they were right there besides him through his transformation from a prince to paladin and finally to the Lich King. With Warlords of Draenor players will not get that same level of connection they had between Warcraft 3 and Wrath of the Lich King but they will get a chance to reach back and touch upon these iconic characters from the roots of Warcraft that many players would love to get to know more about. I took a pass on Mists of Pandaria but I’m genuinely interested to play through Warlords just to experience the story.

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