Many of us ask what kind of game it will take to bring World of Warcraft down to its knees. In the days of yore, when we were all much more naïve and the game was simpler, it was Guild Wars and then Vanguard that was going to smash WoW apart. After the massive disappointment we all became bitter and jaded toward new games. When Warhammer Online came and went we laughed it off. Aionthought it had a chance and was smacked down before it could even stand up. Star Trek Online which has some of the most unique gameplay out there has yet to even make a dent. At the end of the day WoW has yet to falter in the face of its adversaries. It has stood tall and proud, its sweet children protected within its massive unbreakable walls.

AAA Titles vs. WoW

Aika Loading Screen

Ragnaros is an example of one of the first raid bosses that challenged players, making them play endlessly trying to bring him down.

We question now if there is anything or anyone out there brave enough to take on this humongous menace. Two games sit out on the horizon ready to challenge the mighty WoW. Final Fantasy XIV has already openly declared war while Star Wars: The Old Republic is gathering its resources. The fanbois of both games are already piling in grabbing their swords of complete loyalty as they battle on forums everywhere declaring their games to be superior. It’s almost as they wave the mission accomplished banner before the war has even begun.

Yet, when these games release, they will smash against the walls and fall. WoW will lose almost no one as they release their expansion or major patch in order to lock all of us into the game. When pitted between an expansion and a new game, we all know exactly what we’re going to be doing. We’re going to pick up the expansion and call it a day. If not an expansion then it will be StarCraft II or Diablo III that holds our interest.

Bioware and Square Enix may have a bit more room to stand and are already flush with cash, but all of that doesn’t matter to the juggernaut that is WoW. They’ll hold their ground and eventually fall to the great war of attrition that this industry has become. At least, that’s my opinion, and I might be proven wrong, but while they may be successful they will never be as successful as WoW. I do honestly think that they will both do really well, considering the quality that both companies are known for, but I don’t think they’ll do as well as WoW.

The F2P Perspective

Aika Loading Screen

Aika, a recently launched F2P game, offers massive PvP battles to try and lure players in.

Free-to-play developers like GPotato and Nexon acknowledge their place in the industry. They don’t seek to defeat WoW, but instead step over it and target the audience of players who want to play a free-to-play game and don’t mind paying a bit to get ahead. Their games might not get millions of players or massive press, but they do get a healthy number of players and do remain afloat with the cash shop money.

There is no free-to-play game out there that will ever challenge WoW because they’re not direct competition. The players who want to pay out a subscriber fee are usually the types who aren’t interested in paying nickel and dime for levels or zones. Just look at the strong reception that the Celestial Steed received.

That may change if the rumors are true, though, and Blizzard’s next MMO is a free-to-play game powered by microtransactions. We already know that StarCraft II is going to feature downloadable content and Diablo III is just ripe for it. That’s a discussion for another day, though.

Derek Smart vs. The World of Warcraft

There is one wildcard out there that may be able to take WoW down. It’s something that’s entirely unlikely, but I wouldn’t ever rule it out. There exists a game called Alganon that was released last year but went free-to-play with the subscription fees refunded after much uproar about how it appeared that most of the game’s graphics were ripped directly from WoW. The company developing it, Quest Online, now has a new president named Derek Smart and is rebuilding. Derek Smart, to me, is one of the greatest game developers of all time.

If we compare WoW to Pepsi and Alganon to Coca-Cola then we could relate this to the New Coke incident in 1985 when Coca-Cola was down to 24% and Pepsi was reigning supreme. Coca-Cola released New Coke which was met with a huge amount of resentment and they later recalled it and replaced it with Classic Coca-Cola placing it at its now massive market share of over 60% (as of 2004). While Quest Online hasn’t been around forever, the press it has generated has been massive.

Click here to read about Alganon's relaunch and the awesome things Derek Smart is doing with it.

Before Mr. Smart took over this is what Alganon looked like. A simple idea, people love WoW so why not clone it? That just shows how desperate ideas are getting in the industry to tackle WoW. Thankfully all of this is being removed ASAP.

Not to mention Derek Smart’s uncanny ability to drum up press. See, Derek Smart is known for the longest flame war ever in the history of the Internet. Before we had phpBB, proboards, and other web friendly forums there was something known as Usenet. Mr. Smart frequented Usenet and was involved in a 7 year plus flame war over his flagship game, Battlecruiser 3000AD. Of course, Battlecruiser 3000AD is one of the worst games of all time, or was at its launch, which can actually be blamed on Take Two instead of Mr. Smart for the early release. He later fixed the game and released it as freeware.

Additionally, his second game, Universal Combat was a game he developed over a four year period by himself. It was rather buggy and unplayable when it was released, but he has since fixed it up and released it as well as freeware. It’s important to understand he developed it by himself, got it published, and was able to eventually turn it into a pretty good game. That’s a major accomplishment in my book.

He’s a great developer, even if some computer game magazines ran many stories about him assaulting a Coca-Cola vending machine, or the fact that he’s still out there right now trolling forums defending Alganon and writing massive posts about what went down with David Allen and the current lawsuit involving the previous president and company founder, David Allen vs. Quest Online, its investors, and Derek Smart’s own company (click here to see the lawsuit (outside link, PDF file).

Back to the point, though, with Derek Smart in charge of Alganon it may make a direct 180 from failsville to mainstream. Many may accuse Derek Smart of being incompetent, but not me. He’s created massive complex games by himself. He’s had some of the best ideas the industry has ever seen. He was John Romero before John Romero was even a name people knew. Not to mention, EVE Online started small and is now massive. Starting small with small expectations may be the boon a game needs to rise up.

Sure, Alganon pretty much ripped WoW off and has gone and got on the quick train to obscurity after everyone got bored of making fun of it. Yet, with a man like Derek Smart in charge, it just might turn itself around. If it does then WoW might have a run for its money. There is a small, small chance of it happening, but with some of Derek Smart’s cool ideas actually professionally implemented we may see something more than a WoW ripoff. We might see a WoW competitor or we might see yet another failure. Time will tell. Even if it doesn't (which, honestly, it probably won't) there is a chance that a small title from a cool upstart with an awesome team will be what it takes to topple the #1 kid in the playpen. Again, just look at EVE Online.

Of course, Derek Smart could always bring victory by a simple and foolproof strategy. He'll storm into Blizzard's offices and begin punching every vending machine he sees until there is not one standing, depriving Blizzard of the necessary caffeine in order to produce their games. Whenever someone tries to stop him he'll immediatly troll them harder than any troll on the Blizzard forums has ever done, temporarily stunning them as he continues to vanquish all of the vending machines. On his way out, he'll drop copies of Universal Commander that many employees will install and then immediately set their computers on fire in order to remove it, as everything from the uninstaller to the game itself does not work. (/end parody)

Seriously though, if you'd like to read more about Derek Smart's plans for Alganon then click here to see our look at the new Alganon in Microcosms, our F2P newsletter (that you should read).

Though, even with a great idea and perfect implantation, it may not still be enough to topple the titan that is WoW. That leaves us with a single question, what game will come out to succeed WoW or will Blizzard have the industry dominated for years to come? Will it take an underdog, like Alganon, to smash WoW to bits or can a AAA title really rock Blizzard's socks? Will Blizzard remain undefeated forever?

Come share your thoughts on the Ten Ton Hammer forums. 

Me personally? I'm happy with WoW, but if another game can expand the industry then I'm all for it. We need more awesome ideas, more unique games, and more variety to keep everyone from resting on their laurels.

Disclaimer: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Ten Ton Hammer network or staff.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.