Monday, 10 September 2012
World of Warcraft the killer that destroyed a genre.
Ask any self respecting gamer what they think the most succesful multiplayer game in the world is .. Without a shadow of a doubt they will all give you the same answer, World of Warcaft.
Blizzard Entertainments behemoth franchise Warcraft, undoubtedly the king of RTS gaming in the ninties evolved into what we know today as the single most immersive gaming experience one can have. World of Warcraft broke into the MMO scene in 2004 as a rival to already developed massively mutliplayer online games such as Ultima Online, Everquest and even Runescape all games that boasted a huge cult following.
Leading up to its release Blizzard Entertainment managed to build a huge hype for its marquee title using a whole host of clever promises, promises such as WoW having many aspects that gamers had yearned for in previous titles as well as making World of Warcraft incredibly accessible to newcomers to the genre.
In November of 2004 the games release saw the game sell over a million copies within days of it being on the shelves all thanks to Blizzards excellent business model and of course exciting new content being churned out by reguarly in expansions such as the upcoming Mists of Pandaria and regualar patches. Since day one more and more people have flocked to Azeroth to take on epic quests, battles and enjoy the experience with their friends. World of Warcrafts peak playerbase is roughly around 12 million people which is more than the population of Scotland and Wales put together ...
As highlighted not only above but in a past game review on this very site i have pointed out how absolutely amazing World of Warcraft is, especially for a new player (Everyone yearns for that feeling of stepping into a new game for the first time with World of Warcraft!) but with the good must come the bad.
Thanks to the immense popularity of World of Warcraft other Massively multiplayer games that have been released have been absolutely crushed by Blizzards prize pig. A handful of games that have been fairly popular have seen themselves taking many of the key aspects and attributes from World of Warcraft themselves, although this has only seen them eventually get shot down for being a 'Yet another World of Warcraft clone'.
An excellent example of this is Lord of the Rings online, an MMORPG that should have had video game nerds around the world collectively suffering huge asthma attacks upon the announcement of the project and on release date, although of course that was not to be ... After only a fairly short time since release due to its lack of subscribers the game was turned into a FTP model. (Although it shoud be noted that the game did have a high ammount of popularity in the very early days, like most MMOs although of course soon after it faltered).
Age of Conan, another popular franchise that should of been a huge success once again, crushed.. The game boasted exciting features as did World of Warcraft when it was first released, although after a short two years AOC saw itself to being relegated to a Free to play model in the hope of ganing more subscribers, as well this blow Age of Conan's xbox 360 port was cancelled.
The latest competitor in the MMORPG market to take on World of Warcraft was highly anticipated Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic a game that did infact beat WoW in some senses when it became the fastest growing MMO in history.. Although in recent months SW:TOR has seen a decline in interest due to its supposedly poor endgame content.
Other titles that have been sent to the MMO graveyard in some way thanks to WoW (As well as of course their own flaws) are as follows ... Dungeons and Dragons online, Everquest II, Rift and a ton more that arent even popular enough to mention.
It seems that every MMORPG released now is going to be compared to World of Warcraft, and of course with all the new and immersive content being released it's near impossible for anyone without a huge budget and some of the best creative talent the industry has to offer.
The only way to avoid the harsh judgement and comparison it seems is to cater to a more niche audience, for example EVE online, Second Life, Minecraft, Guild Wars and of course League of Legends (not that you can class all of these titles as MMORPGs but still..) boasts large playerbases which remain unaffected by whatever it is WoW seems to be doing.
All in all the future of MMOs look bleak to me .. Once in a blue moon an exciting new title is promised, we wait and wait only to be eventually dissapointed as 'It isnt as good a World of Warcraft.' perhaps one day gamers will find their haven outside of Azeroth, perhaps its Blizzards mysterious Project Titan, perhaps it will be something else.