This weeks “Topic of the Week” we look at the longevity of the World of Warcraft and how long we think it can last. I have discussed this in the past in little pieces here and there, however it is still valid and current. Maybe even more so now, over 2 years after WoW’s initial release. The question really comes down to, with so many new and exciting MMO's on the way, will WoW stand up?
In the computer industry in general technology ages in months instead of years. What was cutting edge at one time is ancient history 6 months later. This holds true for video games of all types as well, other than the rare few that become classics. Blizzard has had more than their fair share of those in their existence and WoW became one from almost the date of its release. By the time it hit 5 million subscribers it had cemented itself as the biggest MMO of all time.
Time ticks by though, and can it hold up against the many shiny new MMO’s coming out in the near (and not so near) future.
Ok, so lets get into it, Who are the contenders?
While this game has changed several times since it was first announced YEARS ago, it is now almost ready for release, having entered closed beta. It is a sci-fi shooter based MMO that looks and plays amazingly smooth from the brief time I got to see it at E3 last year.
While Sci-Fi MMO’s have not traditionally done all that well, this one could be different. For one, it plays more like a FPS than many of the others. Its interface is easy to use and very clean and it comes with voice support built in. It also almost completely gets rid of the grind element of MMOs through a very cool cloning feature.
At any point in the game you can make a clone of your character to save. This feature teams up nicely with the character development model that they use. You determine class as you go and specialize. Using cloning you could save a clone just before you chose melee over ranged combat for example, then play both clones to have one of each type. Then later with the melee before going warrior based or assassin based, you could clone again. A very neat concept, however as many players as it attracts it could turn away, since many traditional MMO players love the attachment they gain to a character through the grind.
This game has MMO potential unlike any other fantasy based intellectual property out there, even Lord of the Rings. Why do I say this? Easy Warhammer is the property of Games Workshop (GW), the masters of table top miniature strategy games. Being the run away market leader in this field does a few things.
One, GW has Millions of established fans all around the world. Better yet, those fans think nothing of dropping several hundred dollars for new miniature armies quite often, so a $15 fee a month to play is peanuts to most of them. If you don’t believe me, just ask Ratboy over on our TenTonHammer Warcraft site. I am sure we each have at least 10 armies, and each army is easily worth $500-$800. So an MMO and a monthly fee is nothing to the average GW game player.
Two, they have been at this for decades and have established an amazing back story and history that is beyond almost anything else out there. The world is incredibly dark, gritty and realistic, and many people buy the games, magazines and books just for the story and history of the game.
Given these two things alone, a market willing to spends tons of money and an amazing back story, the game could be a hit. Tie in the fact that the beta that I have seen looks amazing and you have the potential for another run away smash hit MMO.
|Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising|
Gods and Heroes is a very different game from WoW, being more about a squad than your individual person. In it you control one central character and then their group of minions, who you adventure with.
For players who like the story line of a game, you cant get much more epic than the rise of the Roman empire in history. All it takes is watching any number of old movies to get into the era and wanting to play the game, I know it gets me wanting to!
Maybe the biggest element that will draw players to the game though is the minion based system. For players that like character development, there is no better system. Now instead of working on just one characters gear, level, skills, etc, you are working on your entire groups abilities!
Another Sci-fi title, but one with a difference. Even though this game is sci-fi based it can tie in fantasy, history, future, and modern events easily because of the way the show works. This is also a title with an amazing amount of depth to the storyline and a huge fan base.
Even though not much is known about this title yet as it is early in development, it could be huge! I know that even though I know very little about it yet, I want to play it, just because of the TV shows storyline.
For the short term, even though I am very interested in many of these new games, I see WoW continuing to dominate. Given a year though…. Different story. By that time many of the next generation of MMO’s will be out and established. Players will be looking for something different and start moving off to another MMO. Whichever one picks up a decent share of WoW players initially, will grow by leaps and bounds as players tell their guild buddies about there “Awesome new game” that they found.
If I had to put money down on it, I think that Warhammer stand the best chance of taking WoW down over time. It has many interesting game elements already in testing, amazing graphics, a rich world and storyline to explore, and a HUGE established fan base.
Don’t get me wrong, the other 3 games listed will be successful. There isn’t one there that I do not intend to pay for a while. However if we are talking about taking the market away from WoW (which means getting to at least the 5 million subscriber mark), I don’t see it from anyone but Warhammer.
The Messiah has spoken, now its you turn...
VOTE IN OUR POLL!
Will WoW Standup to the next wave of MMO's?
* YES, Blizzard will never leave the #1 spot!
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