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Why MMORPG gamers think everyone should clone WoW?

Posted by SandboxGod Saturday November 29 2008 at 3:17PM
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I love visiting these forums but sometimes it can be a very frustrating experience. My main issue is that only in this genre (or rather mmorpg forums) do you see this mindset:

"Well World of Warcraft has over 10 million subscribers so everyone should clone it."

OR you'll see this logic:

"No one should ever try anything new. Just clone World of Warcraft that's the best business sense."

 

Basically, their aim is to always argue against producing 'niche' titles. So to them games like Champions Online, WELL Online, All Points Bulletin, Fallen Earth, and EVE Online does not make great business sense to them

Now let's dissemble this logic bit by bit.

 

Point #1:

A title can optimize their content to exceed at beating a competitor in a niche area.

Essentially what this means is that games that optimize their content can excel at a small, focused area and beat their titan competitor in that area. For example, World of Warcraft currently does not allow Guilds to takeover land and fight for control. However, EVE Online does. So, CCP/EVE can provide a feature that their competitor does not have.

After all, just look to other genres to see this principle being put to motion. FPS games are still experiencing monster sales right? Call of Duty 4 was #1 in the last month for highest selling PC title period. Why? They optimized their title to focus on a niche. Single player gaming and online shooter. So- why can't this work in MMORPG space as well? Surely if a shooter can outsell World of Warcraft along with everything else, it can be done? Note: this is sales data from pre-WoTLK

 

Point #2:

Small potatoes to one company is big potatoes to another

EVE Online only has around 250k subscriptions right? Compared to World of Warcraft that must seem small. However, one should look at this relatively. CCP is a fairly small studio. 250k subscriptions can provide a nice steady income allowing them to invest in other ventures such as the White Wolf merger, produce other MMOs (like World Of Darkness), and invest in TV ads for existing titles.

Rich is rich. Someone at EVE Online/CCP one can safely assume is making a very nice income.

And that my friends is the bottom line. A Small studio has a lot less hands out there looking for their cut in comparison to Activision/Blizzard. There's a lot more hands to share the wealth

 

Point #3:

Making a WoW clone does not guarantee success

Basically, post-WoW, we've seen clones in various segments. Tabula Rasa was very WoW like complete with Classes, linear development, etc. Very few innovations. The Class tree concept may seem original to many but sorry friends- that was done in Asian MMORPGs (Rappelz anyone?). TR was canceled by NCSoft. The combat system was something new but alas, there were still dice rolls in the background.

Next up we have Lord of The Rings Online which has lower subscriptions then EVE Online. Granted, it's a WoW clone without the PVP aspects (unless you consider Monster Play)

Age of Conan hasn't been doing so well. Here, we saw a game developer spread themselves way beyond their fixed budget and tried to deliver something way beyond them

People will make excuse after excuse when this has happened but bottom line- at least in Age of Conan's case, a game developer can easily extend themselves way beyond their fixed budgets in an attempt to surpass Blizzard.

 

I could keep going on and on but I think Point #2 really nails it. A small, mobile company that has a lot more creative freedom can take more risks and win big. After all, they have to take risks to get noticed. They do not have big name IPs like Conan or Warhammer so they have to work hard to get attention to their titles.

Also with game development, like most other things in life, you have to decide how to allocate your resources. Do you want to be a jack-of-all-trades where you have Raids, PVE, and PVP. But due to the fixed budget and time constraints, you find that you have done everything lackluster. So this is why most independants will surely specialize on specific areas and refine that experience so they can deliver solid experiences on fixed budgets