Imitation As Flattery
The old saying that this section begins with is a true one: When we emulate someone and adopt their personality facets as our own, we do so in admiration for who they are and the things for which they stand. Can’t the same be said about games reflecting certain core mechanics of World of Warcraft be considered so much the same? I think it can!
Imitation also isn’t saying that every wart and flaw is imitated. To the contrary, those things that are not so great (all we have to say here is dailies…) are often excluded or reworked to find a better way. Trion, Bioware, Cryptic Studios, and Sony Online Entertainment (among many others), have used ideas, those puzzle pieces mentioned earlier, to build other great MMOs. Each new game has contributed to the ever-expanding innovation of the genre as a whole. By making improvements, by using the puzzle pieces provided, we all benefit.
It’s All About the End Game
Looking at WoW’s overall success, we can look at all of the things that lead up to what I believe is the one thing that makes Blizzard King of All: End Game. Blizzard knows how to keep its end game players busy and no one has done it better so far.
When a new MMO launches, it seems as if mere days pass before we hear about the first Level XX player or the “world first” boss kill. Content locusts gnaw through a game and those who have reached the pinnacle stand tapping their virtual feet waiting for developers to tell them what comes next.
Blizzard has what seems like a million ways to keep even the crustiest player busy for months, if not years. Pet collections, mount collections, achievements, farms, gear acquisition, raiding at higher difficulties, exploration…the list can go on and will go on with the addition of tons of new end game content with Warlords of Draenor (yay for Garrisons!). What it boils down to is that in World of Warcraft, players are never truly finished.
Of course, it has to be acknowledged that WoW has had almost ten years of development to bring so much to the table. That is a fact. Few other games have had the luxury of so much time, though many are consistently adding to and improving on their end game.
End game is what keeps players coming back. It’s something that Blizzard, as the developer of the King of MMOs, knows well.
Nothing New Under the Sun….Right Now
All this has really been a prelude to say that there really aren’t, at least right now, that many new ways to go. Developers are, in one way or another, following the beaten path created by those games that preceded them, most notably World of Warcraft. Until technologies like Occulus Rift and others catch up and become integral to the gaming masses, true innovation, true expansion of known ideas, is stymied.
Calling a game a “WoW clone” seems to be a somewhat backhanded compliment even from those who might mean it otherwise. WoW has advanced the genre in ways no other game has in the last nine years. Sooner or later another Blizzard, another “WoW”, will come along and take what has come before to make something better that will reignite all of us. In the meantime, when “WoW clone” is bandied about, think of it as a good thing because it is.
Suzie Ford is the Associate Editor and News Manager at MMORPG.com. You can follow her on Twitter @MMORPGMom.