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Gaming To Hell In A Handbasket

The trials, tribulations and musings of an MMO veteran trying to find the next holy grail.

Author: Strayfe

World of Warcraft: So Good It Ruined A Genre

Posted by Strayfe Wednesday November 28 2007 at 5:23PM
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I hate WoW.  Not because I think it's a bad game, but because I think it's a good game.  At the same time, I will never play it again, because it's simply not for me any longer.  I'm past the linear by-the-book PvE dungeons, the boring, repetitive grinding, the mindless quests, and by far the most annoying aspect, the immature, GIMME-NOW community.  I am eager for something new.  Something entertaining.  I am a gamer.

We need new direction.  Gamers want change.  Gamers want innovation.  Gamers want to feel nostalgic again.  Instead, gamers get World of Warcraft.  Many, MANY times over.  We get World of Warcraft repackaged, with different art, different place and NPC names, and one or two new features.

We smile, and nod, and wait a few months for the next title on the horizon, only to find out that it too shall be World of Warcraft - only this time with better graphics.  I think somewhere deep down, even the die hard WoWbies are tired of it.

Sadly, this trend is set to continue for a good long while.  World of Warcraft showed game developers that an MMO could make a substantial amount of money.  As with all things in our capitalist society, people took notice.  Game developers stood up on their chairs and bellowed in a single collective voice, "Me too!"

Suddenly, almost overnight, nearly every game developer set to work on remaking World of Warcraft.  Driven by visions of multi-million dollar mansions, and a woman on each arm, the nerd community set their sights firmly on delusions of grandeur, oblivious to one thing:

Development takes time.  Trends change.

Fast forward to Christmas 2007.

In the last year, we've had several Worlds of Warcraft release.  People oooh'ed and ahhhh'ed as Sigil - ahem - SOE, released a buggy World of Vanguard, with really good graphics and less content.

Turbine followed up Asheron's Call and DDO with World of Tolkien, the roleplaying community's WoW, complete with epic, instanced questlines and more RPing tools than you can shake a stick at.

World of Tabula Rasa opted for a sci-fi spin on the old favorite.

Vanguard, Lord of the Rings Online and Tabula Rasa are all good games.

I will repeat that:

Vanguard, Lord of the Rings Online and Tabula Rasa are all good games.

Why are these games not as successful as World of Warcraft?  Simple.  Because they aren't World of Warcraft.

Think about it.  I try out a new hot dog stand down the street that I've heard about, Blizzard Dogs.  It's supposed to have awesome hot dogs, and hey, what do you know?  It does.  The hot dogs are cooked in a revolutionary manner, taste great, and are good for you.  The hot dog stand proceeds to do record breaking business.

Other hot dog stands take notice.  Their owners each head to the new stand, buy a hot dog, and deconstruct everything about it: the taste, the aftertaste, the texture, the ingredients, everything.  Having satisfied themselves that they can duplicate it, they each head back to their own businesses and perfect the recipe, each attempting to add a pinch of something new to make it unique.  Perhaps one serves their hot dog with onions.  Another one seasons theirs with pepper.  But essentially, they have succeeded admirably in cloning the original recipe.

The stands unveil their newest hot dog.  The people who have been eating at Blizzard Dogs for the past 3 years are looking for a new spin on an old hot dog.  They try the new hot dogs from the new stands, and... though they taste great, they can't help but feel as though something seems awfully familiar.  After 3-4 of the hot dogs, it hits them.  This is the same recipe as Blizzard Dogs!

Frustrated at the clones, customers head back to Blizzard Dogs.  Why?  Because they know the owners, and they have made friends with other customers who frequent there.

Get the picture?

*knocks on game developers' heads*  Hey, anyone home? 

Nobody is going to leave World of Warcraft to play World of Warcraft with Onions On Top

If they wanted to play World of Warcraft, they would play World of Warcraft.  They have friends there, they have guilds there.  They have characters there that they've played for years and have become attached to.  In order to draw subscribers away from World of Warcraft, you have to make something BETTER, not something the same.

Sadly, 2008 will see the release of World of Warhammer.  Customers everywhere who have been eagerly watching the refinement of this recipe are going to discover that Warhammer is destined to be nothing more than a giant replica of Alterac Valley in World of Warcraft.  It will probably be a good game, but it's not the holy grail.  It's World of Warcraft.

We can hope for the future though.  Age of Conan, Darkfall, Aion, Chronicles of Spellborn.  There are several games slated to make an attempt to become the next big thing.  We can hope that they succeed, and that the industry can come to realize this:

Gamers don't want clones.  Gamers want innovation.  If you create a copy of an existing game, you will fail.

EQ2 is not as successful as the original EQ.  Asheron's Call 2 was a monumental failure.  World of Warcraft 2-9 are not going to be as good as the original.  It's only too bad that developers didn't realize this back in 2004 and early 2005.