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Can Anyone Beat WoW? 365

Posted by Zonk
from the tough-crowd dept.
Next Generation is running an article penned by DFC Intelligence Analyst David Cole, exploring the overwhelming popularity of World of Warcraft. Coles asks Is It Possible to Surpass World of Warcraft? He explores the reasons behind WoW's success, and what it means for the market as a whole. From the article: "All of these factors point towards one conclusion: World of Warcraft's success, admirable as it may be, will be extremely difficult to duplicate. This will be bad news for all the frothy investors who are suddenly discovering the MMOG business model. In the new DFC Intelligence Online Game Market report we forecast revenue in the MMOG market to grow over 150% from 2006 to 2011. However, this doesn't account for all the investment money that is likely to be lost chasing after that revenue growth."
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Can Anyone Beat WoW?

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  • by IflyRC (956454) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @12:55PM (#16016946)
    to beat WoW is to cancel your account and start the arduous process of putting your life back together. Call the wife that left you and see if things can be worked out. Take your kids to a park and marvel at the sunshine - it's been a while since you've felt how warm it is. Apologize to all of those ex-coworkers that covered for you when you overslept from a late night raid or leveling. Look in the mirrow for the first time in months and decide you might need to shower and shave.
    • Re:The only way... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by legoburner (702695) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:04PM (#16017024) Homepage Journal
      Indeed, didnt we learn from the cinematic masterpiece WarGames that the only way to win is not to play? :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tackhead (54550)
        > Indeed, didnt we learn from the cinematic masterpiece WarGames that the only way to win is not to play? :)

        Apparently not. [everybody-dies.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BlahMatt (931052)
      See, this got meta-moderated to 5, Funny.

      While it is funny, it's also the truth. When you quit WoW, at first it feels like you're giving up a part of you, but with time, you actually feel that sense of success that you never felt while playing. It's like quitting smoking. You never started smoking with a specific goal in mind, so there was is no 'end'. Quitting is the only way tou can beat smoking, drinking, drug addiction... etc.

      And some people say WoW isn't an addiction....
      • To be fair, when I quit playing I didn't feel like I was losing a part of me. I felt like I was just really bored with fetch quests. I guess some people just really like collecting red bandannas.
      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @05:09PM (#16019238)
        I know that addicts can't conceive that everyone doesn't share their addiction, but it's true. Gambling and drinking are two good examples. Most people never get addicted to those things, and indeed just aren't wired in such a way that they will. They do them both when they want to, but they have no need to do them all the time. To an alcoholic, I'm sure it's hard to understand how it feels to not NEED to have another drink, but most people just don't.

        Well, same deal with WoW. There's plenty of people who play just for fun, and play on their own terms. I have a coworker who just now, after like 2 years of play, got his first level 60 character. HE just doesn't have time to play a whole lot, has a family and all and that takes priority.

        Even those of us that do play a lot aren't addicts simply because we do. Personally, I'm evaluating what I want to do in WoW. I enjoy raiding, but it's getting a little old. I'm trying to decide if I want to switch back over to a PvP server, or maybe just cancel my account and play other games. I don't feel any "need" to play WoW or meet some artificial goal, it's simply what I choose to spend a fair amount of my free time on because it entertains me. I suppose I could spend it watching TV, or knitting, or in a bar, or any of the other more "acceptable" activities but I like games so that's what I'll spend my time on. At this point, WoW is the one that gives me the most entertainment, though as I said, it's growing long in the tooth.

        So if you find yourself addicted to a game, unable to quit, having it interfere with your life, then that's not a good thing, but don't project that on to all others. There's plenty of us that can just play for fun, and leave when it's not any longer. WoW is my 4th MMORPG to date. It has lasted much longer than any others (9 months was the prior record with DAoC) but I doubt it'll last till next year. It doesn't force you to play it, you force yourself to play it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ToxikFetus (925966)
      I'm not sure if this should be modded +1 Insightful or +1 Depressing.
    • by hpavc (129350)
      You speak the truth.
  • I Beat WoW! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Aadain2001 (684036) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @12:56PM (#16016956) Journal
    Yup, I beat my addiction to WoW. The day I pushed that cancel button was the day I was set free. So it is possible to beat WoW!
  • by Kawolski (939414) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @12:58PM (#16016969)
    A quarter of the population of South Korea along would sign up. You'd get a minimum of 12 million subscribers and the return of Starcraft Breakfast Cereal.
  • by PFI_Optix (936301) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @12:58PM (#16016974) Journal
    There will always be that one game that defines a genre. Doom was not the first FPS, but it was the FPS that made the genre a sensation. Command & Conquer did the same for RTS. WoW is just that defining game for MMORPGs; it built upon the pioneers and has reached that critical mass where MMOs stop being a niche genre and have become mainstream.

    The question is: do we really want a single dominant game in any genre?
    • by celardore (844933)
      Do we want one dominant game for each strategy? No, we don't but alternatives surface after time. Doom may have been the defining FPS a few years ago, but is it any more? No. And could you label one current FPS as 'definitive'? I doubt it. MMORPGs are relatively new territory, but there are other games out there. Don't play them myself, but a lot of my friends play a game called EVE.
    • by servognome (738846) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:14PM (#16017095)
      There will always be that one game that defines a genre. Doom was not the first FPS, but it was the FPS that made the genre a sensation. Command & Conquer did the same for RTS. WoW is just that defining game for MMORPGs; it built upon the pioneers and has reached that critical mass where MMOs stop being a niche genre and have become mainstream.

      WoW was not the game that defined the MMORPG genre. EQ was the game that developed the critical mass for wide appeal to take that crown.
      It is more like StarCraft and Counterstrike... a game that has been refined to the point of wide lasting appeal.
      • I'd state that it *refined* the genre, it obviously did not define MMORPGs.
        • by ProppaT (557551)
          Actually, it most certainly defined the MMORPG as we currently know it. It wasn't the first, but the first of it's format.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by CaseM (746707)
        WoW was not the game that defined the MMORPG genre. EQ was the game that developed the critical mass for wide appeal to take that crown. It is more like StarCraft and Counterstrike... a game that has been refined to the point of wide lasting appeal.

        I would suggest that subscription numbers disagree with your conclusion. At, what, 6...6.5 million subscribers currently, it pretty much means EQ is now only a pre-cursor to the true, defining game of this genre: World of Warcraft.

        If you mean "first of its k
        • I would suggest that subscription numbers disagree with your conclusion. At, what, 6...6.5 million subscribers currently, it pretty much means EQ is now only a pre-cursor to the true, defining game of this genre: World of Warcraft.

          If you are going by subscription numbers only then Lineage would have been the genre defining game, given it had 3M+ subscribers 5 years ago (Lineage I suppose is the genre defining title for the Asian market). Total popularity does not necessarily mean genre defining, nor the f

        • by HoboMaster (639861) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:16PM (#16018075)
          UO == Warcraft I (The first real one)
          EQ == Warcraft II (The one that set the standard for the genre)
          WoW == Starcraft (The one that basically perfected the genre)
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Maxo-Texas (864189)
          Muds defined the general area.
          Everquest defined the visual mud.

          Wow was the first to hit the right balance of difficulty- Everquest drove away millions of customers through their hardcore attitudes. They would have BEEN Wow if not for Brad and "the vision". And then after it was all over, they sold out to being an easy game after all (still *way* harder than WoW but no longer pure in the same way EQ was back in 2002).

          Wow was hard AND easy enough to be fun. And WoW didn't require being in a 72 person raidi
      • pff eq i beta'ed that. It sucked so hard. Not as good as UO and not as good as WoW. Why dont you just say anarchy online or swg defined the genre since you seem to have absolutely no standards for quality.

    • In boxing there's a great phrase... "to be the man, you have to BEAT the man", meaning specifically that its not enough just to be as good, but you have to exceed your predecessor.

      it is very, very hard to see someone 'beating' WoW under these circumstances. There's no point in me, as a user, leaving Wow to play a game that is almost as good -- i have too much invested in my Wow character(s).

      Frankly though I only ever play one game at a time...its just the depth of WoW that keeps me hooked. Usually its
      • There's no point in me, as a user, leaving Wow to play a game that is almost as good -- i have too much invested in my Wow character(s).

        Would you rather have a game that had all of the depth as WoW, perhaps even more story, but didn't have the singular character advancement? One more focused on the progression of the story and environment of the world, and not the player? A game such as that might be doomed to failure since the user has less to identify with in the game, so there is nothing that actually ties the user to the game. I don't know which way is better, I'm just curious as to your opinion. It seems by your port that you'd be more likely to part with it.

        I ask because it seems that some people avoid WoW on purpose because it is requires such an investment of energy to play, despite the fact that it is no doubt fun. Personally, that's why I avoid it, but I might play a game that doesn't make me build up mountains of a character's skills and attributes.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Gr8Apes (679165)
        It's not hard to see something beating WoW. Look at it this way, with FPS's, there was Doom, then Quake, Quake2 and everyone kneeled to the alter of id. Then along came Half-Life, and the FPS arena went there. Now there are some decent contenders, Unreal, FarCry, HL2, and Q4. None currently have retaken the FPS crown, but something will shake out sometime soon.

        In the MMOG arena, first you had MUD's, remember them? Then there were a couple of graphical MUD's, then EQ, which was the bee's knees. EQ ruled. Ult
        • I do not know if it is feasible, but think of a serverless peering system that has transact-sql
          transfers like banks use to reduce chances of hacking.

          A built in network analyzer that groups ppl in low latency groups in perspective to their
          ISP peering, but have the ability to manually select as well.

          Some sort of reward for ppl that have the most uptime on their box as well.

          A master server for validation would be needed, but if the bulk of the game is hosted
          by the players with good connections it would reduce
        • um no (Score:4, Informative)

          by crabpeople (720852) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:18PM (#16018097) Journal
          "Then there were a couple of graphical MUD's, then EQ, which was the bee's knees. EQ ruled. Ultima Online and Asheron's Call broke after, and developed major followings"

          UO [wikipedia.org] - Released on September 30, 1997, by Origin Systems.

          EQ [wikipedia.org] - EverQuest (EQ) is a 3D fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that was released on March 16, 1999

          I will not have your revisionist history. UO pioneered the genre.

    • by TheAxeMaster (762000) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:28PM (#16017207)
      like WoW does. If you had said Warcraft 5 years ago, how many people would know what you were talking about? Lots. They already had the brand recognition and that sold a lot of copies for them right there. I think the next big MMO you'll see will also be built off of another franchise game (and NOT starcraft!). DDO's only real attribute is because it has D&D in the name. That sold it to a lot of people right off the bat, even though it is just enough D&D to be confusing to newcomers and not enough for a lot of fans of D&D to like playing it. Most of the other MMO's you see out there don't have that recognition (puzzle pirates, eve, guild wars, etc.) and an MMO is a hard place to build brand recognition these days.
       
      Watch for a big name title to go MMO...
    • Nah, when EQ came out it was such a huge and amazing success that it was considered defining and dominant. Those of us kept playing knew "There's got to be a better way, there's got to be a better MMOG". WoW is probably it. I dropped EQ, I play WoW, and enjoy it, and constantly remind myself of how bad EQ was (yet how much I played the fucking thing), and I still think "This is great, but here's how it could be better". A lot of the time I'm suprised at how Bliz sweeps in to include the things I thought wer
      • by PFI_Optix (936301)
        Wolfenstein 3D came before Doom, but I wouldn't consider it the defining game of the genre. Doom is what took FPS (and really, computer games in general) from a geek game to something for everyone. The same could be said of Dune 2 and Command & Conquer.

        Everquest at its height was always the realm of hardcore gamers. It didn't have the mass acceptance that WoW has, the same as Doom was the first FPS to have that same mass appeal.

        There are always a few really good games in a genre before one comes along t
  • Is it possible? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:00PM (#16016991) Journal
    No, that's why they made a level cap.

    All joking aside, WoW will not be beaten... in this generation. In any emergent industry based on non-commodity goods, the first player to hit mainstream success will be the benchmark that all others fail to meet. After the first product goes mainstream, competition increases and even an increasing market has too many players for any one to achieve the saturation of the first one.

    Now, if the whole MMOG industry was to die down, it's quite possible that someone new could come in and create a renaissance where they could dominate a larger market than existed during the previous incarnation... like Nintendo did after the video game industry 'died' in the early 80s.

    However, I don't think the MMOG industry is going anywhere anytime soon. It's natural outgrowth of the online socializing that today's youth has grown up with -- I expect more variety, but don't see any shrinkage for quite a long time.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by whyrat (936411)
      First of all I think it's a very narrow view to call WoW the MMO leader. Lineage 2 has far more players / revenue / you name it.

      WoW is the most popular MMO here in America (one might say in the English speaking market)... but to place it in some high regard and label it "unbeatable" by other games is a little short sighted.

      Games are HIGHLY subject to fads, although MMOs have a longer cycle than single players just due to the length of time involved to play the game and consume all the content. Beyond that
    • Re:Is it possible? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ultranova (717540) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:30PM (#16017224)

      However, I don't think the MMOG industry is going anywhere anytime soon. It's natural outgrowth of the online socializing that today's youth has grown up with -- I expect more variety, but don't see any shrinkage for quite a long time.

      But online chat isn't an industry. Or did you pay to chat in IRC or with an instant messenger ?

      Online gaming is here to stay. However, in order for it to stay an industry, it must make money. Currently this is easily done, since the games require centralized servers and this in turn leads naturally to such things as monthly fees. But what if the underlaying technology was to change ?

      The system is currently basically the old central mainframe / dumb terminal -setup. The servers take care of all the processing, and the client program just reads user input and gives output. A glorified MUD. Unfortunately, it is not scalable.

      The number of simultaneous players is rising constantly, and the server size can't be increased forever. So, in time, more and more of the actual processing needs to be offloaded to the client machines. The main problem is that the server needs to prevent cheating somehow; the easiest ways of doing this include using DRM or simply offloading the task to several clients at once and comparing the results. Eventually this system would resemble the Napster of old, where all the actual interesting things were on people's computers, and the servers basically just coordinated the whole thing. At this point people would propably also connect directly to each other to decrease lag.

      So, what happens when someone introduces the Gnutella of MMORPGs ? A system which doesn't need a central server to function. The players would run "servents", each of which would not only provide the user interface but also run a tiny area of the gameworld. Walk to the edge of the current area, and your servent connects to another servent. Enough people concentrate to an area, and the servent running divides parts of it to nearby ones; an area is empty enough, and the servent asks other servents for more areas to run.

      Such an MMORPG would have no need for monthly fees. It's running costs would be divided between its players in their electrical and bandwidth bills. It would mean the end of the industry, not because MMORPGs themselves became unpopular, but because the model of monthly fees would be unmaintainable - you don't need a central server to play, so you don't need to pay anyone to run one either.

      Of course content makers would stand to make a killing selling cool new models, but that's how it should be. And of course this MMORPG with no central controlling entity would likely have some rather unwholesome areas, but then again, that's how it should be, IMHO :).

      • But online chat isn't an industry. Or did you pay to chat in IRC or with an instant messenger ?
        You misunderstand what I'm saying. Online socializing in general has set the stage for MMOGs to succeed based on cultural differences in today's youth from yesterday's youth. This is why I forecast continued growth, in the mid-term, for the MMOG industry -- the tappable market is still growing.
      • by dave562 (969951)
        There's one problem with your idea. As soon as the game world is offloaded to the client you are going to have huge problems with hackers. You would need a whole application layer of checks and balances to ensure that the servants were serving up legit content.
    • by kafka47 (801886)

      All joking aside, WoW will not be beaten... in this generation.

      WoW came along and grew the MMORPG industry to include people that had never played an online game before. Fantastic achievement and kudos to them.

      Yet I can't help but think that we are really only at the very beginning. There are infinite ways in which the genre can be improved and expanded. Once these games come to the fore, WoW will look primitive and inane next to them. We'll say to each other, "Did we really used to play that?!"

      I'm s

  • WOW Success (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaWeaves98 (998918) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:00PM (#16016996)
    It will be incredibly difficult to reproduce the success of WOW for a number of reasons. The main being that WOW is incredibly accessible to gamers of all skill levels. Having played many different MMORPG's WOW was easily the easiest to pick up and run with. Other games have an incredibly steep learning curve and to the casual gamer are turned off. With WOW you can jump right in and get to doing quests without having to go through the tedium of starting off so weak you can't do anything. Additionally, Blizzard has been incredibly successful with almost every game they have released. I'm hard pressed to find a Blizzard title that wasn't both a commercial and critical success, with the exception of the long-anticipated, maybe to eventually be released Starcraft: Ghost. Additionally, from my experience WOW is the only MMORPG you can play for short periods at a time. If you have a half hour you can jump into WOW and actually accomplish something. Other games, they require large chunks of your life to achieve a modest level of success. I'm not saying that the other games are bad, because they are by no means, but they are not as accessible to the casual gamer as WOW is. WOW definately isn't perfect, what with the lack of overall storyline, but in terms of quick fun it beats the others hands down.
  • by garylian (870843) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:03PM (#16017018)
    In about 2-5 years, WoW will start to fizzle out as people grow up and away from the game. As well, improvements in computer hardware, GPUs in particular, will start to make the cheesy character graphics that WoW uses seem old.

    Games run their course. Blizzard has been really lax in adding new content, and fixing bugs. If they are going to average a major update once every 2 years, customers will start to leave for other games.

    While it may be a long time before anyone beats the subscription numbers that WoW currently boasts, as more people get broadband and more people start having better systems, the MMO market can handle more people.

    But it won't happen for a few years. As much as I am looking forward to Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, it won't challenge WoW for numbers. And nothing else in the works that has been talked about is really lighting any major fires. And even Eve's slow but steady growth will only go so far, as it's a game of Haves and Have Nots, and new players are mostly Nots.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sefi915 (580027)
      In about 2-5 years, WoW will start to fizzle out as people grow up and away from the game. As well, improvements in computer hardware, GPUs in particular, will start to make the cheesy character graphics that WoW uses seem old.

      You seem to be missing the fact that 6 million people subscribe to the game that has the cheesy graphics when other games (EQ2, for example) have better looking character models.

      WoW has bright, vibrant colors that -also- can be played on 4 year old systems. Sure it might be choppy

    • As well, improvements in computer hardware, GPUs in particular, will start to make the cheesy character graphics that WoW uses seem old.

      From what I've heard, Blizzard has already planned for this. At some point in the future, they'll update their graphics engine along with the graphical content of the game (skins and stuff).

      Blizzard has been really lax in adding new content, and fixing bugs

      You're kidding, right? They pump out new content every 2 months or so. Plus, you're being picky over minor bugs.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Japher (887294)
      I'm not sure why you think Blizzard averages only one major update every two years. They have had four major patches just this year, adding three new instances (dungeons for the uninitiated), weather, cross server PVP, overhauls to several character classes and too many fixes and minor additions to list.

      Blizzard is currently up to version 1.12. That's twelve significant updates since launch. Those patches included around ten new instances and many other end game additions.
    • Are you kidding me? I'm a recovering WoW addict and one of the most impressive aspects of the game to me is how often they fix bugs and make minor additions. Yes, the next real add-on is on the way, but think about all the changes that they have made. The funny little holliday events like Orphan Day, constantly tweaking the talent system to balance the classes, constant addition of new instances, the new battle grounds, the latest invasion storyline, a weekly scheduled patch that introduces *real* fixes.
    • Blizzard has been really lax in adding new content, and fixing bugs.

      Are you kidding? There have been 11 major patches since release, for chrissakes.

      1.2:
      Maraudon
      Gurubashi Arena
      Feast of Great-Winter Event

      1.3:
      Dire Maul
      Azuregos
      Lord Kazzak

      1.4:
      PVP Honor System

      1.5:
      Battlegrounds

      1.6:
      Blackwing Lair
      Darkmoon Faire

      1.7:
      Zul'Gurub
      Arathi Basin
      Strangethorn Fishing Contest

      1.8:
      Silithus
      Four Dragons

      1.9:
      Ahn'Qiraj World Event
      Ahn'Qiraj (20 and 40 man)

      1.10:
      Weather

      1.11:
      Undead Invasion
      Naxxaramas

      1.12:
      Multi-Realm Battlegrounds
      World PVP

    • Blizzard has been really lax in adding new content, and fixing bugs. If they are going to average a major update once every 2 years, customers will start to leave for other games.

      ?

      What amount of new content would they need to provide to keep you happy? They average a major patch about every 2 months and those patches add new dungeons, world events, equipment, and improvements to one or two classes. It's not like they've added nothing to the game because they've been laboring away at The Burning Crusade.

    • by Llywelyn (531070) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:51PM (#16018393) Homepage
      >"And even Eve's slow but steady growth will only go so far, as it's a game of Haves and Have
      >Nots, and new players are mostly Nots."

      This is only partly true.

      First, the upper tiers of skill training take a long time. So, for example, getting to the point where you have a 20% bonus in Engineering takes only a fraction of the time it takes to get to a 25%

      What this means is that someone who invests a lot more time in it will only generate a slightly better character.

      Second, tactics and numbers beat raw points. Give me a dozen or so people who have been playing less than a month, give them the right mix of easy to get skills, and we'll go all evening taking down battleships, force recon ships, etc with barely in losses. Sure, they won't beat a force of equal numbers flying interceptors or anything funny like that, but they can decline engagements they can't win and will just cause a massive amount of damage relative to the total number of skill points in the group.

      Skills and 1337 eq aren't everything.
  • New genre? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by i_should_be_working (720372) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:03PM (#16017019)
    Can't someone (possibly Blizzard) just do the same thing again, but in space, a la Starcraft? I don't know about others, but I for one greatly favour sci-fi over fantasy. Dammit Phantasy Star Universe, where are you?!?

    Also, didn't anybody say the same thing about FFXI? I would guess that people will eventually get bored with WoW just like they did with FFXI and look for the next big thing.
    • You might want to try Anarchy Online (if you haven't allready), which is a free MMORPG, with a sci-fi setting. I quite enjoyed it, and the benefit of not having to pay for it doesn't leave any 'obligations' to play the game.
      I also found the community/players in general quite enjoyable to play/talk with. No too much asshats imo.
  • by antialias02 (997199) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:03PM (#16017023)
    The only thing I can see beating WoW in terms of MMO Competition is if a number other high-quality games enter the market and drop their price point and subscription fees. It's really Blizzard's to lose. If they release a string of bad patches, quit putting out expansions, the like, and people hit 60 (or 70) and lose interest, they'll flock to Eve, Lineage, Guild Wars, CoH, and others.
  • Then buy in at the IPO level.
  • Possible strategy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smbarbour (893880) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:06PM (#16017039)
    Since most players are unwilling to play more than one MMO on a regular basis, the trick is to entice players to leave WoW and play your game. The trick is to find the "hook" necessary to do just that. I would propose to offer a contest to give away free lifetime accounts to a significant number of people. By doing this, you can get an initial playerbase that can entice their friends to come to the new game. One of the biggest draws to MMOs (for me at least, although I'm not a WoW player) is the social environment from playing games with friends (whether in real-life, or just in-game).

    Of course, the game does need to be worth playing in order to entice anyone away from another MMO
    • by imidan (559239)
      Or... reward people for the time and money that they've put into WoW. Start up a new MMOG and allow people to submit their login information so that the new game can go scope out WoW experience, equipment, skills, playtime, etc. Use that information to give new players a leg up on the initial grind. As long as you planned for this sufficiently in advance, balancing should not be too big a problem.

      Almost like importing your WoW character into the new game, but the new game need not be a fantasy game, or n
  • Popularity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lymond01 (314120) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:06PM (#16017043)
    My opinion is that World of Warcraft's popularity is due to its original base in the hugely popular Warcraft series of games. Without that, it would be just another EQ clone like the rest of the games. For 3 million people, the name Warcraft introduced them to the MMORPG, something a new title like Everquest or Dark Age of Camelot wouldn't do. Would Spiderman the movie have been nearly as popular if it was called "Webman" and was loosely based off of Spider-man? I'd say not.
    • My opinion is that World of Warcraft's popularity is due to its original base in the hugely popular Warcraft series of games. Without that, it would be just another EQ clone like the rest of the games. For 3 million people, the name Warcraft introduced them to the MMORPG, something a new title like Everquest or Dark Age of Camelot wouldn't do.

      WoW's popularity was also due to the fact the game was accessable to a wider audience. In EQ if you were to log in for 1 hour you couldn't really accomplish anything

  • It can be done (Score:5, Interesting)

    by portwojc (201398) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:09PM (#16017066) Homepage
    Star Wars Galaxies could have done it but they were too busy reinventing the game every 4 months.

    StarGate can do it if it's done right. They have the brand name. They just got to remember this is a MMORPG and there needs to be more than one way to succeed in the game. If they can break this cycle that you have to always fight something to advance they'll win over big. That's what Star Wars had. Docs, dancers, musicians, and artisans could do what they liked doing and succeed.

    Believe it or not some people just liked standing around chatting.
  • Some points (Score:2, Insightful)

    by b1ad3runn3r (896115)
    It's interesting to note that nearly all the positive points from this article correspond to the generally perceived decline in game quality in the past few years.

    For instance the MMO that gives acceptable rewards for soloing sees a good deal of its playerbase at max level relatively quickly. This impacts the long-standing belief touted by casual gamers (the main audience of WoW) that the journey is the fun part, and the end game item hoarding and raiding is boring. Also it leverages the HUGE userbase tha

  • WoW will be beat, but not by something that does what it does better. Instead it will be bested by something everyone hasn't seen before. I'm not talking about a new type of game, but some kind of evolution of the MMOG that someone is probably working on right now. That said, WoW is probably the ultimate within the MMOG model as it currently exists, but nothing lasts forever . . .
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by geekoid (135745)
      ".. some kind of evolution of the MMOG that someone is probably working on right now."

      Crap! I KNEW there was something I was suopposed to be doing instead of playing WoW!
  • Looking Back (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Deluxe_247 (743837) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:16PM (#16017115)
    ..at all the time I wasted playing WoW brings a tear to my eye. I neglected my loving wife, my friends, I would occasionally skip work, school, or other activities just so i could 'raid.' That's the worst part about that game. It hooks you with the ease of leveling and the fact that you CAN level on your own. You don't need to be in a giant group to gain experience (a la FFXI).. The questing system is intuitive and enjoyable, the storyline is great wether you played the original Warcraft installments or not.

    The game was successful because everyone wanted a 'casual friendly' game to play - and that's exactly what it *WAS*. But once everyone reached 60 and the developers lollygagged their way to the first expansion (after what? 2 years? 3? I can't even remember how long the game has been out thanks to being locked in a cold room full of empty coke bottles and a broken '2' key for Sinister Striking!)

    Once you hit that top level and started raiding, it became a horrible addiction. The only way to see real character advancement is through new gear, and the GOOD STUFF (as all crack heads want!) is only available via raiding A LOT. I went from a happy casual player to a 5 day a week 'second full time job' player.

    I don't think another game will have that much success anytime soon - im sure it's possible.. but I also think that the hayday of WoW is going to slowly come to an end. I don't know if their numbers are still going up or not, but im sure as more and more new games will be released that will slowly steal games from WoW... Blizzard might try to hold onto the throne with World of Starcraft or World of Diablo or basically just rehashing WoW with one of their other brands to keep it 'fresh', but eventually even they will bow down eventually.

    Besides... WoW is in a whole new 'era' of gaming IMO. 20 years ago a fun game was playing cards after dinner with your parents (maybe a few more years than 20...whatever) The point is that as technology continues to develop and becomes accepted, more and more people jump 'on the wagon', and thats just part of what the gaming community is seeing today. Is it that WoW just happened to be 'the right game at the right time', or will it be looked at years from now as 'one of the first good games in the 'Gamers-Generation.' (I know that sounds a bit silly but hopefully you understand my point.)

    Disclaimer: I fall upon my rights as an american to post this message without using spellcheck. Thanks!
    • I think the expansions are going to allow them to reinvent parts of the game, and fix some problems. I'm under the impression that the new 25 man raid cap will be more "casual" friendly. People will be able to pick up a group and go whenever they feel like, instead of having to join a big guild, and wait on the other 39 people. I currently play, and have more fun in ZG (20 man) than in MC (40 Man). I think ZG better captures what the game was supposed to be, and MC was an initial stumbling block and a mis
  • I sure hope so... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by le0p (932717) * on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:19PM (#16017138)
    First off, this article seems to have been written by someone who played two MMO's: Everquest and WoW. Most of the "revolutionary" features of WoW were present in other MMO's (instances, battlegrounds, solo centered play) previous to WoW's existence. Some were done worse, but I'd bet some were done better as well. While WoW is an international success, in my opinion, it's an average MMO. I've played my share of the genre and beta'd a few that never made it as well, and I found WoW to be technically sound but overall pretty sterile. I was bored enough to cancel pretty quickly and even tried to return with some friends thinking that would help, but alas it was not meant to be. If it works for you, that's cool, but I disagree with anyone that calls it the be all end all of MMO's. It's not THAT great.

    What I do like about WoW is the quality, it seems minimally buggy in comparison to most MMO's (except for the Blizzard servers after release). This is so important and it's a problem in so many of the games in this genre.

    If another MMO comes out with the same quality control and a well known license attached, you'll see a split in the user base. The casual players will stick around mostly (as will some of the hardcore fanboys) but a new challenge is something an MMO addict can't pass up.
  • Convinced (Score:4, Interesting)

    by daeg (828071) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:21PM (#16017158)
    I'm convinced that a lot of WoW's appeal is the color and graphics style. There are many other MMOs out at the moment but most of them have graphics more seated in reality. Unfortunately, it seems that many game artists are not capable of working with earth tones very well and most of the graphics end up washed out and grey. EQ2 is a prime example of graphics-gone-wrong. EQ2 had a lot going for it, actually... the crafting system was pretty damn innovative and was a throwback to UO (post-T2A) where your skill directly impacted the quality of your goods. You couldn't get away with a blacksmithing mule without putting a lot of effort into it. Contrast that skill and time-based system to WoW's crafting system where any dumbass that gets 300 Alchemy can transmute Arcanite every 2 days just as well as you can. A lot of other games tend to have similar graphics problems (Note: part of this is hardware limitations. With a more cartoon graphics style, you can get away with a limited number of polygons and colors. Realistic graphics need heavy shading and heavy textures to make it look good.)

    I think for a game to beat WoW they will have to trump graphics and remain simple. Let the casual user have an easy game but make it complex enough for those that want complexity. WoW has done this fairly well. Anyone can get to 60, but a true game fan can find and adventure for specific equipment items and specific stats. A fanatic fan can break the game down into math and figure out exactly how much his DPS (damage per second) would increase if he got a certain item or certain enchant. But you don't have to do that.

    Customization is a big (HUGE) key that WoW has completely missed. You cannot create a community in WoW beyond a guild. Again going back to UO.. that was a great feature, albiet implemented very poorly at times and the implementation/security of it varied greatly every content update. If you wanted to, you and some friends could build a small town out of user-purchased homes, complete with NPC vendors that you controlled. Second Life has huge customization features but is lacking graphics, intuitive UI, and just doesn't have the appeal that most games do.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      "WoW's crafting system where any dumbass that gets 300 Alchemy can transmute Arcanite every 2 days just as well as you can. "

      Thats an example of someone's skill directly impacting the goods they can make.
      Having an equal skill should allow people to make equal things, don't you think?

      "Customization is a big (HUGE) key that WoW has completely missed."

      Agreed. In UO our guild had specific color, and that was pretty cool. Since it was easy to recognize a guild member from a distance.

      The other thing they lack is
      • by daeg (828071)
        Sorry, I should have been a little more clear on the crafting issue. EQ2's crafting was unique because it, like other game aspects, took playing skill, not just an in-game stat number. UO's crafting system wasn't a sure thing -- your success was affected by your skill, stats, and other hidden stats such as how "full" you were. UO's crafting system was also limited by the distribution of materials. Knowing and mapping high-level ore types was something not governed by in-game stats.

        And no, an equal in-game s
  • Faulty Analysis (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:22PM (#16017169)

    All of these factors point towards one conclusion: World of Warcraft's success, admirable as it may be, will be extremely difficult to duplicate.

    In five years does anyone doubt that most people will be playing a game with better graphics than WoW, even if it is WoW II? The social component of MMORPGs makes it more likely, not less that gamers will flock to one particular game among the offerings they have. The question then becomes, how do I make my offering the next king kong of MMORPGs?

    Gameplay is one key. It has to be fun and it has to be addictive in order to build and maintain sufficient body count. Accessibility is another key. It needs to run on Macs and PCs and ideally on Linux. You can't afford to exclude 5% of the market, because that 5% will contain some of the hub people that will draw in others. If 1 person can't play a game, 20 might stay on a game their friend can play too. Those 20, make up some of the mass needed to be a blockbuster. The barrier to entry cannot be too high. Initial cost cannot lockout the bottom half of the market, and it has to run on the average machine, not just top of the line. A free trial is a big plus as it gives people a free way to get hooked, just like crack.

    Aside from graphics, and more refined gameplay, there are a lot of things a new MMORPG can bring to the table. One is more diversity and another is standardization. This may seem contradictory, but hear me out. If a company puts out a game that works with open standard modules, then multiple companies can create and sell those modules for it. Buy access to different fantasy settings, cyberpunk, world war 2, etc. This allows for the maximum diversity of gameplay with the minimum barrier to entry. Since it would almost certainly rely upon one or more standard gaming engines, it would also remove a lot of the work that goes into building one from scratch.

    I've advocated this as an open source project, but have not heard many people enthusiastic about it. It is, however, a perfect fit for the OSS business model since content and the service are not tied to the code and are what people are willing to pay for. I think if someone creates the Apache of MMORPG engines, they will be a rich person with a huge reputation that will allow them to cherry pick work from then on.

    Open Source or not, however, a single, service or game is almost certain to be a magnet to gamers, like WoW is today. It is part of the nature of the social network, which is a huge component of MMORPGs today.

  • I know that that game still has several hundred people per server on a daily basis. Also, when WoW turns 20, then we'll talk.
    • by hcob$ (766699)
      Correction... when WoW turns 10
    • by geekoid (135745)
      Wow has several thousand people per day.
      WoW is far more friendly to casual gamers. In fact, it can be fun casually. ALthough the need more ~1 hour raids.

      The article is about WoW becasue it is substantilly more popular the UO.

      Not to bag on OU, but your complaint is out of place.
    • Using the TFA's metric, revenue and subscriber numbers, WoW beats UO.
      After 9 years, UO has about 20 million "subscriber months".
      WoW does that every 4 months.

      -- Should you believe authority without question?
  • by Grimwiz (28623) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:55PM (#16017423) Homepage
    I played everquest for years. If it weren't for mismanagement of Everquest we would be shaking our heads and wondering how a single MMORPG could dominate the market for 6 years. However, the gorilla on the block since 2005 is now WOW though I suspect it is starting to suffer the same problems. I hope sanity returns and they avoid EQ's fate.

    The reasons I left EQ (and why WoW may not avoid these problems) were...

        1. The game was so hard you cannot meaningfully accomplish things solo once you're high (e.g. 60th+ level). As a casual player who does not spend a long time online in one session I spent a large percentage of my time looking for a group. I even arranged a second subscription so that I would have two characters whilst I was soloing. Wow was therefore more accessible because you can solo meaningfully and it also halved my subscription costs. However, both systems are designed so that the greatest rewards are only achievable by massive multiplayer effort. and at that point, all the players who have real lives drop out.

        2. Very few pieces of software are perfect, with a MMORPG this sometimes requires human intervention. The customer support at SOE was appalling. GMs sometimes abused their powers and if you had a problem you sometimes had to wait days for resolution. WoW support used to be fairly good and prompt, but I've noticed a drop in quality over the months.
    Over time, it looks like the WoW software has got more buggy to the point where I suspect EQ has the upper hand now. If you've got 40 people who spend hours trying to achieve a goal and all wipe because of lag (for example) then they're going to be fed up.

        3. Even though the area to explore was huge, (and I'd explored for almost 4 years), I had only visited maybe 50% of the regions that were available. A lot of the new regions required quarterly expansions costing about $45. Every time an expansion comes out you are reminded that you're paying a subscription AND you're being asked to pay for the expansion. Blizzard had been very good at improving WoW for the standard subscription and I dont begrudge them an expansion every 18 months or to, but Sony's 3 monthly expansions to add broken content drive people away.

        4. It became obvious that some mechanisms in EQ were overt time sinks (e.g. some people waited days for certain creatures to appear), now, obviously, the whole idea of a game is to be an entertaining time sink, but you're supposed to be enjoying yourself whilst doing it. WoW has a few irritating time wasters, such as flight paths but generally its a lot better.

    So in summary, Sony destroyed Everquest's dominance of the MMORPG market by offering poor support for buggy software and charging lots of money for it whilst only a few hardcore players got bragging rights over their leet characters (at the cost of family, jobs and sleep). I can see a few faint shadows of this disease on WoW, and hope it won't get worse.

    If someone wants to make a killer MMORPG then listen to the majority of players, not the vocal hardcore. Allow people to stop and attend to real life. Listen to them when they've got a problem and fix it as a priority before working on something shiny, new and broken. Let them play the game as fast or as slow as they like, so they can socialise or be a tourist. I'd love to play a casual wow-type game in the Everquest world, there were so many cool areas, monsters and quests that I miss.
    • by dave562 (969951)
      However, both systems are designed so that the greatest rewards are only achievable by massive multiplayer effort. and at that point, all the players who have real lives drop out.

      This is my biggest concern with WoW. I bought two copies of the game so that I can play with my girlfriend. We are both at level 29 after about a month of casual play. I like the casual play aspect and the quests are fun because they are something that we can do together for an hour or two before bed a couple of nights a week.

      • I wonder if people who have maxed out for a while should be offered a chance to be integrated into the game. Imgaine if Blizzard offered players who were lvl60 for a while a chance to become part of a quest. For instance they could become a guardian of an area, get a unqiue artifact, and basically have to defend an area against raiders. They could control monsters, etc but would be limited to staying in the quest area. They would be "legendary". If the player got sick of this the character would be giv
  • by rabbot (740825) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:01PM (#16017466)
    I think WoW was good for one thing. It got people who never heard of MMO's, or people who were afraid to try the more hardcore MMO's to "get their feet wet".

    It's not necessarily something that future MMO's should draw from. Of course there will be WoW clones, but I think all of the companies will benefit from the success of WoW.

    You'll see people start with WoW and find that they need more depth and challenge. Games like FFXI, Everquest, and the soon to come Vanguard will all benefit from the influx of gamers into the genre.

    I don't think WoW will be "beaten". It will co-exist with all the other MMO's, and everyone will benefit from WoW's ability to attract the casual gamer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Right, I agree. Am mmo with a million subscribers would probably leave the development team ecstatic- just because it might pale in comparison to wow doesnt mean its not a success.

      Honestly though, most people interested in mmos i think knew that wow was going to be phenomenal. Blizzard games always have exceptional polish, something notoriously lacking in mmos prior to wow. Wow was unique in its ability to actually live up to the extreme hype put before it.

      People might complain about the end game raiding
  • is to, oops, got to go. Raid.

    thxbye
  • After hours of play and interacting with all the NPCs in the game I got to the final level and defeated the final boss Lord British. He has a huge amount of health and it took all my skills to finally take him down. Make sure you sit through the entire credits for a final cut scene at the end!!
  • The problem with WoW is that after a month or so, it becomes pretty much a "been there, done that" situation. Sure there are "new" areas one gains access to and "new" artifacts to raid for, but they're all just variations on a (by then very familiar) theme.

    A MMOG that provides continuously new paradigms for success as the player advances would mop the floor with WoW.
  • The Legend of Mir 3 [wikipedia.org] has already surpassed World of Warcraft. Other games exist as well, such as Yulyang. The market style is different, but nevertheless profitable.
  • 1) I really think that WoW just hit the market at exactly the right time where the competition was so thin and since they offered a grea product, they have seen the record subscriber numbers follow. EQ was losing steam. UO was losing steam. Asheron's Call was starting to fall apart balance wise between the classes. AC2 - a total and complete failure. Shadowbane? Too many early server problems to keep people interested. Not only did they provide a very easy to play title, they offered generally decent
  • by kinglink (195330) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:37PM (#16017756)
    Let's look at this rationally, Wow isn't just a great game it's a phenomonial game. Just like EverQuest wasn't a great game it was a phenomonial game when it first came out. It's like Super Mario Brothers 3, best selling game ever. But is it beatable?

    Well to beat WoW you need to approach it the same way. Take a well built world that has been seen in multiple games that everyone knows and loves, something like Mario or Zelda (note Final Fantasy doesn't have the same world so it doesn't work the same way) Make it identifiable but playable, allow the players to play any of the major races, Invent a couple new ones and you should have WoW.

    The problem is no one has a game that was as popular as Warcraft available for this quite yet. And those that do arn't willing to go to MMORPG. Mario and Zelda will never be MMORPG if there's a god in heaven. Stuff like Command and Conquer doesn't have the races to go along. GAmes like Final Fantasy doesn't have a viable world.

    The problem really comes in when games try to be so different it hurts. Star wars galaxies anyone? If there was a game world that could be better than WoW it would be Star wars, but there's not enough developer items. LOTR is coming soon but isn't sounding like a strong contender. Star trek could work, Ender's game would be fun but too obscure.

    The problem is for something like WoW you need to have Devs who've created successful games in the world, interest in going into MMORPG, and the patience and money to really create solid beta, Just paying a company money to make a MMORPG won't work because they might not work with the source material, they might not have enough time, they might just not understand the material (Scarface? The main character is going to get up from the ending, so the whole moral is gone and it's a stupid run and gun). WoW will be beaten, but probably not for another 4-5 years. But that's ok. That's actually the way MMORPGS work. They have very long life times but it also takes a long time to create a successful one.
    • WoW also have the technical aspects right.
      The interface is just beautiful and robust, while still being easy to customize to your liking. They also made it extremely easy for people to create custom controls/interfaces and have control over these. Downloading and installing patches is a breeze. Latency handling is handled in a good way.
      WoW also have "ninja graphics", even on low end hardware, good sound effects and great music.

      WoW just feel so "solid".

  • by dave562 (969951) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:41PM (#16017788) Journal
    I can honestly say that WoW has one thing going for it that I have NEVER seen in any other game. There are ATTRACTIVE women who play the game. There is something about the fantasy genre that draws attractive women to it. Just take a look at LotR. Being a fantasy geek has gone mainstream and gained acceptance. Blizzard pretty much has a lock on the fantasy MMO with WoW. There aren't any other genres out there that will have a similar draw across so many segments of the population.

    I personally think that the world of Shadowrun could come close and compete with WoW because of it's blend of fantasy and cyberpunk. The two big limiting factors on Shadowrun are A) Microsoft holds the IP license and B) there isn't enough hardware power to populate an entire city for thousands of players to run around in at the same time. But in terms of the content possibility (criminals vs cops, the lower class vs the evil corporations, magic, matrix, etc), you can't really beat the potential of the Shadowrun universe. You can have soloing in the world, then you can have instances as runs against corporations. Most importantly, the Shadowrun universe doesn't lend itself to the gear grind like WoW does. The playing field remains pretty level throughout the character advancement process. You don't gain more hitpoints and mana as you advance. It just becomes less likely that you will lose them as quickly. One of the big limiting factors I see to doing Shadowrun "right" would be the adult oriented nature of the game. I'm not sure how many parents who fork over $15 a month for Johnny to fight orcs and trolls are going to be happy with Johnny running drugs for the mob and killing the family of corporate whistleblowers.

  • WoW is easy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Wiarumas (919682)
    WoW's addiction is easy to overcome. I play it every summer and quit in the fall when I go back to college. I guess my willpower is strong because I never had a problem quitting.

    Honestly, once you hit 60 and experience everything its too repetitive for my tastes.

    I had a 60 priest, rogue, and paly (rogue to 60, paly to 42 first summer.. priest to 60 and paly to 60 2nd summer.. and a 30 warlock).

    But you know what? The game is amazingly boring. Why do I do it? Because I see my girlfriend every morning/af
  • A long, long time ago in the world of MMO's there was a man Named Brad McQuaid. Mr. McQuaid was in charge of a little project called Everquest, some of you might have heard of it. Well, Brad left Everquest and formed his own company, Sigil Games, to start a new project. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes ( http://www.vanguardsoh.com/ [vanguardsoh.com] or http://www.joinvanguard.com/ [joinvanguard.com] ) I suggest the first link. This game has been in development for several years now and is slated to come out this winter. Will it beat WoW? I don
  • Why it won't last (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Goblez (928516)
    WoW won't last as long as everyone thinks, why? Because now that it's popular, it's not going to be long before people try it and get sick of it

    You work up to 60 and most everything up to there is new or fun and interesting. Then you hit 60 and what? Find out that that two months you put in hardcore won't even touch what you need to do to be 'at the top'. Now it requires rep or raiding or PvP until people you know are concerned enough to talk about interventions with you.

    Not to mention that once peo

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