“Is Coke destroying the soft-drink landscape?" he asks. "Is
Pixar destroying animated films? I think people like to target the big
winner and right now WoW is the big winner. As a developer I think
it’s much more important to focus on why companies like
Blizzard dominate in the arenas they compete in. People talk about the
'secret sauce' of companies that produce hit after hit. I
don’t think it’s a secret at all. Hits are the
result of lots of dedication and focus. World of Warcraft
is successful because it’s an incredibly well made game.
Blizzard will tell anyone that the 'secret sauce' is working hard,
testing and getting all the details right. In fact, entertainment
companies that dominate in their industries follow that same pattern,
as do professional sports teams and music groups. I honestly feel that
Blizzard earned their success with WoW. Sure, maybe they had good
timing, maybe they were lucky… but at the end of the day
they made an awesome product. I would rather try and compete by making
an awesome product as well.”
Competition is the name of the game, as Peterscheck points out. And
with so many competing products now, players can really start to see
some unexpected advantages. One gamer from our Ten Ton Hammer
community, Anacche, recognizes this fact, and appreciates it for what
“By raising the bars so high, it has definitely made the
industry a tougher one to crack. If a game does not offer something
amazing, everybody goes crawling back to WoW or worse still, the
project fails either at, or even before launch. Those games that do
manage to keep up however leave their followers in absolute awe.
has seen its fair share of competitors rise and fall, some have stuck
around in the shadows, but in the end none of them have toppled WoW.
The reason being that now you have to come up with more than just one
new fantastic innovation (RvR,
PQs, or Sex and Violence anyone?
) to draw lasting
attention. You have to match, or better WoW on each of its grounds -
PvP, PvE Casual, PvE normal, PvE Hardcore, and then come up with your
own innovations to top it and get the initial attention.
“After four solid years, WoW has shown that you also have to
design your content with longevity in mind.
“In some ways, WoW's quality has made it unfairly hard on
other developers. Some might call that a great wake-up call, some would
call it monopolizing the market; everyone would agree, it's going to
take something big to even nudge WoW.”
Whether unfair or not, the competition is there, and as Anacche
explains, we are starting to see more and more innovative ideas come to
our games. The competition and the massive subscriber base have pushed
the evolution of online gaming forward at a staggering pace. We can
take great satisfaction in knowing that the evolution is moving
forward, which can only lead to good places in the end.
This growth is not unlike any other growth spurts either. While we face
the puberty of massively online gaming, we can expect more bruises and
pains along the way. These pains come in various forms, from incomplete
rushed games trying to compete, to the afore-mentioned divide in the
community at large.
“In short, the extreme success of WoW has both expanded and
also divided the MMOG community, and the growth is certainly positive
but the transition is not complete. It is up to both our community
members and our developers to create spaces which are welcoming to
broad audiences. It is imperative that we both promote a myriad of play
styles as well as accept social atmospheres if we're going to make the
most of this opportunity and deliver MMOGs to their birthright as truly
massive entertainment,” Krausnick concludes.
So will we ever see a return of the old style of game? Probably not.
Like childhood, it’s something we cannot experience again no
matter how alluring it may be. But has World of Warcraft
ruined MMOGs? It’s pushed us into a bit of a pimply, hormonal
stage with plenty of conflict, personal and peer, but the question can
only be answered by the individual player.
The direction of the future, though, is up to all of us as a community
of gamers, developers and publishers to decide.