A Gaming Bully - Page 3

Updated Thu, Jun 04, 2009 by B. de la Durantaye

“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 it is.

“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.

“WoW 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.

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