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WoW - The Game That Seized the Globe 287

The New York Times reports on the global appeal of World of Warcraft. An unmitigated success world-wide, the article examines why the title's U.S. roots haven't stopped it from succeeding abroad. From the article: "Perhaps more than pop music or Hollywood blockbusters, even the top video games traditionally have been limited in their appeal to the specific regional culture that produced them. For example the well-known series Grand Theft Auto, with its scenes of glamorized urban American violence, has been tremendously popular in the United States but has largely failed to resonate in Asia and in many parts of Europe. Meanwhile many Japanese games, with their distinctively cutesy anime visual style, often fall flat in North America. One of the main reasons Western software companies of all kinds have had difficulty in Asia is that piracy is still rampant across the region. Games like World of Warcraft circumvent that problem by giving the software away free and then charging for the game service, either hourly or monthly." Keep in mind that distribution and access rates are different in Asia than they are here in the states. The majority of WoW players pay an hourly fee, and didn't have to buy the box.
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WoW - The Game That Seized the Globe

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  • Current adoption? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:21PM (#16045338) Homepage
    Yeah, we all know WoW is a huge hit, but I'm curious...now that there is a very significant portion of their player base who is level 60...and many players have become disallusioned with the grind that is on par with EQ, does anybody have any numbers regarding their current new subscriber rate?

    The reason I ask is that when WoW first took off, they had a large number of new players constantly joining the game...but I have a hunch that they are starting to approach their plateau as the game matures and new games come out. Yes, the expansion will help, but its primary customers will be existing players, not new ones.

    Anybody have any figures as to what games new players are flocking towards these days?

  • by Grimwiz ( 28623 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:33PM (#16045459) Homepage
    As a parent, and generally suspicious net-user, I am glad that there is a fee and associated paper trail back to a real breathing human. That way, if legal recourse is required then it is available. I have noticed that games that allow anonymous entities are often full of cheaters, griefers and I believe they are more of a danger to vulnerable people (e.g. children). Anonymous means of expressions may be required for a democratic society but they can stay in their relevent forums.

    On a gaming front I'm glad that the servers stay running, new content is added and that there are support staff available to fix problems - all of which require money.
  • by Jartan ( 219704 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:47PM (#16045605)
    "I will never pay a monthly fee for a game."

    You make that sound like some sort of stand you are taking against evil. You also act like people who pay these subscriptions are making some sort of mistake.

    What if they stop charging a monthly fee and start charging $150 up front flat fee? Is that going to somehow make it better for you even though numerically it's probably more?

    I've got a lot of bad things to say about WoW but so far it's the only MMO to every actually deliver fifteen bucks worth of content every month.
  • by astanley218 ( 302943 ) <adam@[ ]hosters.com ['net' in gap]> on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @12:51PM (#16045640) Homepage
    FWIW, Ultima Online was the first major game in the genre. I have played MMORPG's since UO, although I never had overlapping accounts. I have a full-time job, a wife, a house, and 2 children. Needless to say my entertainment time and my money are very valuable to me as I don't have much "extra" of either of them. IMHO, games like UO or WoW cannot be compared with games like San Andreas or Madden '07 for various reasons. Some of the major ones off the top of my head would have to be:

    - Blizzard spent 5 full years developing the game before launch (ROI on this must be overwhelming to consider for Bliz).
    - Blizzard admins currently maintain 174 "realms" around the globe (Very expensive leased lines, hardware maintenance, secured facilities, etc.)
    - WoW requires constant attention from paid employees (ie: game masters who are constantly investigating hacked accounts, assisting players, banning farmers, responding to abuse/complaints, etc).

    This new game model absolutely requires some type of recurring income. It is obviously not viable to take $50 (less the distribution costs) one time from a customer and then allow that customer to play for the next 4 years without recovering any of the above costs. In my opinion the $15 monthly cost (3 packs of cigarettes?, 2 fast food meals?, 1 date at the movies?) is very easy to justify considering the infrastructure in place, and the entertainment value of the game. I don't know about the rest of Slashdot, but I have never been able to enjoy a single $50 game for more than a month or two. By that time I've either beaten it (seen all the content), or am frustrated/bored with it. At which point I would be back at the store laying down another $50 for the next few months entertainment. MMORPGS are in constant development, new content simply "appears" in the game via routine patches. Expansion packs and other major changes sometimes cost a little extra, but I still see this model as far superior to single purchase (ie: Madden) video games.
  • by Azureflare ( 645778 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @02:07PM (#16046304)
    I had the exact same thing happen to me. I actually probably didn't log as many hours as you (maybe a month in the course of a year of playing) but I went through periods of very intense playing followed by breaks. I just came off of a very intense period (where I was playing every raid that was scheduled for every night, AQ40, BWL, MC, AQ20, ZG...) Since I was a healer they always needed one so I felt needed. The game lost all the fun it used to have after a few weeks of this; my family was pissed that I wasn't talking to anyone else in the evening, that I wasn't doing anything at night to help around... and eventually I just said, sod it, and didn't log in. I followed my guilds raid status for a while. A week after I left they had a replacement for me. So at least I don't feel guilty for leaving.

    I think the social aspect of World of Warcraft is what keeps so many people playing. They are so used to the people there that they can't imagine what it's like without them.

    IMHO, real life is a hell of a lot better. YMMV.

    (BTW: 30 days today of no WoW :) )

  • by Gervaze ( 710196 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @02:37PM (#16046501)
    It's especially horrifying if you take into consideration the monetary impact. I played from 11/04 til 07/06. So you've got $49.95 for the game and $284.05 in fees. But what really did it for me was the realization that if I had been doing productive work during my /played time, I could have held a full-time job. When I quit playing, I had approx. 2880 hours /played; spread over my 19 months playing, I was playing on average 38 hours a week. If you consider even a minimum wage job, that's still $19,440 that I could have earned! Obviously this isn't entirely true since I wouldn't be working at 2:00AM on a Saturday, for example, but nevertheless I found it quite shocking when I did the math. Even if you sell your account and get maybe $2000, you still are coming out far behind in the big picture.
  • by Dark_MadMax666 ( 907288 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @03:05PM (#16046696)
    Well try to answer these questions honestly :

    1) Is it worth spending your real life hours on meaningless records in a database?
    2) Can you seriously equate real life achievement to that record?
    3) How spending best hours of your life on MMORPGs treadmill is different from being hooked on drugs ,alcohol, TV, other kinds of pointless entertainment ?

        I am guilty of same those things .And I feel hours of my life lost irrevocably (and I keep losing them as this addiction is something I can not defeat completely (well at least I got off of mmorpg crack, which I think is one of the most destructive kinds). Difference is to not seek excuses and try to combat it -there is no excuses . Do you want achieve something or be a rat pressing this pleasure button forever(sex/entertainment/food /sleep)?

      Entertainment IS POINTLESS."Relaxing and enjoying yourself" is as meaningful as the subject it revolves around . -As long as you doing something productive in RL (inventing ,engineering , building business, - anything having real impact on the world outside) it is all good, but as soon as it start revolving around fake things (consumerism and not production) it becomes waste of resources ,whether your consume movies, videogames, music, drugs, food, goods.

      See there are real games out there (for money ,power, influence, scientific achievement etc) , yet people try to substitute them for instant gratification surrogates (drugs, TV, fiction , computer games). -Those surrogates are made to be addictive and provide pleasure without any real work involved. You have to see trough it or you will waste your life building air castles and being a king in a pointless fantasy .
  • by Lisandro ( 799651 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @03:49PM (#16046993)
    No, the quests don't get more varied. That's why the jab is that there are only three (or so) types of quests. It's literally true.

    Find. Loot. Kill. Report back.

        That holds true for 99.9% of MMORPGs out there. I honestly still don't know what people find so appealing about them.
  • by IsoRashi ( 556454 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @04:13PM (#16047157)
    The only "varied" part about the ony chain is the story behind it. The quests themselves fall easily into the few quest archetypes.

    If you look at the entire ony chain, it's composed of kill quests (both killing numbers of creatures and killing specific creatures to get specific quest items), and running around talking to NPCs. The only "twists" in the chain are 1) after you initially track down Windsor, you have to go back into BRD and find the crumpled note (there is no other indication that you have to complete other quests to make the note available, but this quest mechanism is by no means unique); and 2) knowing before-hand that you aren't supposed try to help when the guards turn into wyrmkin.
  • WoW saves me money! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @04:32PM (#16047343)
    To all those complaining about subscription fees in gaming - I hear ya. In the good old days, I swore I'd never pay for a game - I just downloaded them all from IRC. Then they got "good enough" that I started paying for the ones I felt were worth it - and swore that I'd never pay subscription fees. Then WoW came along and I tried it - now I'm paying subscription fees and swearing I'll never buy into episodic content...wonder what game will finally make me decide episodic content is worth it.

    Anyway, here's something to consider. I save money because I play WoW - no joke. WoW is so fun and engaging and has new things for me to experience every time I sit down and play it...to such a degree, that I really don't play other games. I canceled my GameFly subscription, I don't buy games anymore - haven't bought a console in ages. I spend less money on games per year with my subscription to WoW than I did without it. I'll get to a point with WoW where I'm tired with it, and want to go back to my other games - but for right now, a subscription-based game is a money-saver for this gamer.
  • Wow.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CFBMoo1 ( 157453 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @04:50PM (#16047494) Homepage
    Its adicting... way more so then most other MMO's I think for it's simplicity. The expansion is coming around the corner. They're addressing a lot of issue players have had with the game as it currently is. One of the biggest things is shortening the number of people needed for end game content. Originally to do anything signifigant beyond hitting 60 you had to get 40 people together. Now that number will be down to 25. Also with the level cap going to 70 existing 40 man content will be 20-25 manable.

    Some of it's biggest problems:

    * Lag.. it's a huge problem though they're working on it slowly.

    * PvP. The honor system is setup such that some people actually go 6-8 hours or more a day, 7 days a week to make rank. This can get very unhealthy. They're addressing that with the expansion by removing the existing honor system and making it more people friendly.

    * PvP survivability. Right now a decked out character can pretty much kill a person so quick that healing isn't an option. You basicly have level 60 characters running around with gear that should be for people 60+. Highest I think is around level 90 gear that only requires 60. One side of the coin says anyone can get it if they put the time in, other side is not everyone has the time. Either way it's easy for pick up groups to get totally steamrolled. Some are calling for normaling damage more so things arn't as whacked out as can be. The other thing is its neat to one shot someone but after a while that can get boring and you want something more challenging.

    * Healers.. right now there's a signifigant lack of healers or high healer rotation. Thats most likely typical with any MMO. Who wants to stare at peoples health bars and fill them all day, every day? Very few. They need to set the end game class gear so for healers so it's not just good at the PvE but also PvP. Yeah you got huge healing bonuses but if your not damaging someone it's kinda prolonging the inevitable. A lot of people say, "Oh great, another heal set to grind for. Whoopie." and burn out.

    * Epic gear isn't so epic anymore. Its to the point where gear thats suposed to be rare is actually everywhere practiclly. Take a walk through each factions heavly populated cities and you'd have a hard time not seeing druids that look like moose or deer with their suits. Warriors that look like pin cushions or axe heads. Still to some extent that can be a good thing in that more people get to see end game content to some degree.

    * Customization.. you can't dye or paint your armor. It's as it always will be till you get a new piece. You also can't change your hair style or color. There are a lot of choices but your looking at static ones mostly.

    * Twinking, botting, gold farming, it's all in there.

    Some of it's biggest benefits...

    * $15/month unlimited access gets you on any server with like 8 character slots per server. Server types range from PvP, PvE, RP, and RP-PVP.

    * Little things. You don't just have epic dragons to slay, you have a wandering faire that travels between two factions cities. Fishing contests in neutral towns, some other factions hold festivals like the Lunar Festival from the druids common faction. These events have some nifty quests and rewards that are neat outside of the regular grind.

    * RP... yes AAARRRPEEEE! There seems to be a very health RP community on the RP servers. You definatly have your share of arse-hats, catgirl and vampire wannabe's but it's there. Some people actually post some great stories and content about their characters. Why bother when you have PnP D&D, etc? Why not? You actually get to meet more people outside of your neck of the woods and get to hear some great stories and you don't have to give up the PnP D&D, etc.

    * Cow people.. tell me it's not cool to be a cow, especially a cow with a big gun. You get to be part of the secret cow level. It's a playable race inspite of them telling you there is no cow level. ;)

    There's a lot of other pro's and co
  • by Lisandro ( 799651 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2006 @06:33PM (#16048294)
    Sleep. Eat. Fuck. Tell your friends about it.

    Exactly. Isn't life chore enough chore?

    My peeve is that those games turn awfully quickly into chores - where you spend time with them not because it's fun, but only because you have to. There's a (fake) sense of accomplishment. That people like this and feel okay about paying for the privilege just blows my mind.

    By the way, all of the above holds true for fucking aswell - i just happen to find it healthier! ;)
  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @05:03AM (#16050733) Journal
    As opposed to any other RPG? How many fundamentally different quest _types_ were in Oblivion? Kill X, or find Y, or deliver Z, then report back. That was it.

    And don't get me started on other game types. FPS? Kill, kill, kill, find key, kill some more. Action-RPG? See FPS, but in a third person view and with melee weapons. RTS? Build X peons/harvesters/whatever, build a factory, click on build zergling/dwarf/infantry/whatever factory 20 times, rush. The only competition is finding the exact number of those to build for a win, then apply that mindlessly online. Adventure? One single action: click on everything, try to use everything on everything. The only difference being to what ilogical extremes the designers went with those item combinations to slow you down. Etc.

    So if the mere repeating the _type_ of action you perform is turning you off, you might as well quit gaming completely. Seriously.

    What makes an RPG good, though, are gameply, story, setting, etc. E.g., in Oblivion technically the Fighters' Guild quest with the goblin village is just another "Find. Loot. Kill. Report back." quest, but in practice it was one spooky experience and it gave you a part of the story. E.g., the Dark Brotherhood quests in Oblivion again were, after all, techically "Find. Loot. Kill. Report back." quests all right, but that was one spooky story arc towards the end. If anyone could look at that disembowelled guy hanged upside down and think only "ok, quest delivered", then they just lack the imagination for an RPG. (I'd get into more details, but it's already bordering on major spoilers.)

    And so it is with MMOs too. Just lumping action types into categories is like saying "wtf, there are only 2 tree types here" and missing the forest completely, as you're busy categorizing the trees. Admittedly, _most_ MMOs are full of mass-produced crap (EQ2's or SWG's quests come to mind, for example), but WoW actually gives you a piece of story with a logical reason why you're doing that stuff.

    Especially at low levels it's actually better in that aspect than a lot of single-player RPGs. See, about half the SP RPGs took Hollywood's whole "hero's journey" recipe literally (beats using their own brains to come up with something new) and stretched it to fill anywhere between 10 and 100 hours with it. But that means that the "looky, he's an everyman just like you" part that might have took 10 minutes in an action movie, becomes hours of doing mundane non-interesting crap that has nothing to do with the story later. Not so in WoW. Sure, the newbie quest arcs aren't world-saving class, but they're at least logical, make sense on their own, and do make you feel like being a part of something and doing something useful. And they tell you a bit of the world's story too.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982