back to article How Warcraft reigned supreme in 2008

Another year gone, and Blizzard's World of Warcraft remains the unrivaled champion of the massive multiplayer online (MMO) genre, and - in many ways - PC gaming in general. At its feet lay 2008's pile of would-be "WoW-killers" left charred, battered, and wondering what Blizzard's four-year-old creation has that they lack. "WoW- …

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Flame

Think I'll stick to Guildwars

GW is free after the initial purchase of the campaign.

GW is pretty

Death penalty in GW is limited to your current game instance (ie go back to town and it expires) acts solely on your stats (up to -60% HP and Energy) and die once and you can no longer earn the "Survivor" title.

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Coat

Shorley

you mean Star Wars: The Old Republic.

mines the one with the blaster in the pocket

HAN SHOT FIRST

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Other game titles will never touch WOW

The other game titles simply keep getting the chemistry wrong over and over again.

The only thing I do not like about WOW is you can not climb very tall mountains.

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Paris Hilton

What WoW gets right...

As an MMO veteran (read: nerd) I have to say that Blizzard did a lot of things right:

1. instanced dungeons so that you don't have 1000 players all trying to kill the exact same dungeon boss that spawns every hour or so

2. Quests design and fulfillment is very user-friendly

3. MMO customer service is like airline customer service in that you seldom find someone who has actually had a truly good experience. However, Blizzard does a better job than past MMOs I have been in.

4. The two factions in the game are fairly well balanced (since both sides have the exact same classes, even if the background story/lore of WoW got a tortured a little in order to pull it off)

And WoW is a bit like most social endeavors. It retains in success in large part because it built so much early success that it has built a critical mass of people, so people are hesitant to leave because there are so many people in WoW. Few things are more depressing to play than an MMO where nobody else is ever online.

Paris--because all WoW players know and love her "alleged" namesake Haris Pilton in the bar in Shattrath City. Haris sells uber gear like designer sunglasses that cost 2000 gold pieces and do nothing for your character but are "guaranteed to make you the center of attnetion"

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Starwars > Warcraft? I don't think so

I would love to see a great new innovative game take the place of WoW, but it will have to be something a lot more impressive than Starwars or Superman. I don't think those name brands have as much clout with kids as old marketing guys think. Now a universe based on the Sandman comics might actually be creative, if the right people did it.

It's puzzling that nobody seems to be able to find a formula that can beat D&D. Are game designers just afraid to take the risk of trying something really different? Yeah, yeah there is Eve Online...snore.

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Anonymous Coward

:o

The main reason wow is still top is because really it was the first mmo to bring it to the masses and do it right.

I bought Age Of Conan and found myself bored after a few hours, mainly , seen it.... done it.. thats the same as wow... and finally I cant be bothered playing this as non of my mates are on here ill just go back to wow. Not to mention the horrible bugs and performance issues (no my pc is quite nippy)

I think any of the new mmo's are going to have a really hard time pushing wow off the top spot because realisticaly most of the new people they are gonna get will come from games like wow etc. I dont know anyone apart from the odd person that played wow first who bought Age Of Conan or Warhammer Online and all those people had similar issues to myself.

Now that its acheived such a massive player base & the game no longer has the bugs etc which plagued it for months after launch and can be played on a modest system this is going to be even more so the case.

Im just waiting to see what piece of half finished garbage mmo the likes of EA are going to try to and push out now as im sure thier directors have got $ signs in their eyes as usual. Hilarity will of course follow release day.

Paris coz she could mount my Epic White Ram anyday.... :o

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Lord of the Rings Online is thriving

Not every MMO release is TRYING to be the WoW-killer.

LOTRO is doing very well, with a fabulous expansion Mines of Moria that added a fantastic amount of content and increased the level cap to 60. LOTRO keeps going by having an interesting overarching plot to tie into and of course one of the most detailed and comprehensive backgrounds of any fantasy setting.

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Jedi franchise?

"But in 2009 when the powerful Superman and Jedi franchises jump into the fight backed by their massive marketing and development machines, WoW may finally meet its match."

You mean, like how Star Wars: Galaxies - the last time the 'Jedi franchise' tried an MMORPG - completely blew WoW out of the water?

Oh, er, wait.

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And Jagex's RuneScape?

I'm impressed that you managed to avoid any mention whatsoever of the browser-based MMO game RuneScape, which has 1 million paying members out of a total regular player base of around 5 million.

Surely the fact that the makers Jagex are a British company based in Cambridge hasn't led to their being overlooked...?

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Urine

Sorry to say this, but, it's like, get a life. And you smell of piss. Or sour milk.

MMORGs are just a waste of bandwidth and full of trolls.

It's like going back to 1970s when Gygax ruled the earth. And have you moved on? No. It's kill monsters, nick stuff.

Blah.

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Lost in the past...

Sadly, I believe the original Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) was enough to take down WoW, or at least put a huge dent in there numbers. Then due to an "improvement" they lost over %90 of the original player base, myself included.

For quite a while I do admit to playing World of Warcraft. Yes, it has dragged me into it's world with my loss of SWG. I played it for the longest time, I even had two accounts, max levels on both accounts on each side of the fence. But then, sence returned to my head. I quit the game, and I await the next WoW-Killer to surface. A MMO of KOTR would probably just do it...

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Alien

warhammer

"the very universe from which Blizzard aped most of WoW's ideas"

I read somewhere that the original Warcraft was designed as a Warhammer game. When GW didn't want it, Blizzard rebranded it to sell for themselves.

I can't find a statement to support that on wikipedia, so maybe it is true...

I can tell you why /I/ still play WoW: I like the continuity of the characters I've created there. Someone is going to have to come up with something pretty compelling to get me and my brother to start over in /their/ game.

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Paris Hilton

Hallelujah !!

Never mind this WoW nonsense, have you heard the shite about Hallelujah the song in the charts at the mo? What bollox... The Happy Mondays did the definitive version in 1989...

"Hallelujah, hallelujah, we're gonna pull ya..."

...pulls on my flares and baggy top...

Paris... well if she'd been legal in '89 I'd have pulled her

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jon
Heart

WoW

is good, in a well executed format, and is a champion for the common man. I liked it when it came out, like a rough diamond, but now it's all a little samey.

Personally I've grown to dislike any game where the main objective is to grind mobs with the objective of getting ultra rare loot, gold, or finishing quest objectives. It's to much like a job.

I'll admit to trying just about every mainstream mmo to come out, they're all the same with different skins and minor mechanic changes.

Internet gaming was brought to the world's population by WoW. It's where subculture became mainstream. Those that played online before it will know that WoW isn't the only game where you can have friends and play as a team. WoW gives people that, and doesn't require you to have any prior knowledge or gaming skill to do it, which imho is why it is so successful.

Personally, 2 games I'm looking forward to in the new year are jumpgate evolution (Q2-3 release) and darkfall online (22nd Jan). No mainstream grind, just action and fun. Bring it on! :D

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Coat

11 Million Players = 11 Million Virgins!

Basically put you can attribute the number of WOW players to the number of sexless nerds! its a bit like reading Harry Potter as an adult!

Seriously i cannot remember the last time i had an "interesting" conversation with anyone who plays WOW! It seems to have become a bit of a cult with people loosing lives, sanity (see the reg articale about the 1d10t who suffered a serious mental stack overflow from playing too much), money and marriages to it (no i am seriously not joking http://news.softpedia.com/news/World-of-Warcraft-Reason-for-Divorce-78896.shtml !) The mind boggles people!

Mines the one with a social life in the pocket.....

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Stu
Alien

Totally agreed about the required system specs...

<Q> "It's stunning how game makers tailor their creations only to a tiny niche of folks running bleeding-edge systems and wonder why they're losing audience to game consoles." </Q>

I have never played WoW, nor most modern games save for a 1 hour bout at Crysis. But I was into PC gaming since about 1992 right thru to 2002-2003. My interest died with the games industrys attitude towards minimum acceptable system specs!

As far as I'm concerned, the PC games market is now dead. Due in its entirity to the idiocy of the developers system spec targets.

.

One other point - WoW established itself way prior to 2008, established in the minds of most PC gamers as -the- MMORPG to go for, something built up over the years.

Another one comes along, it just doesn't have that element of establishment and is so eventually shunned. Also bugs and poor game balance don't help the situation for them either.

I would not be in the slightest bit surprised if WoW lasted as it stands right through 2010 and beyond. In fact, I'll be straight back into PC gaming if Blizzard release something called 'World (Universe?) of Starcraft'.

;-)

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Flame

Lets the flames commence

I played WoW for all of a month 4 years ago. Nothing about it made me want to stay. Played Conan, really enjoyed it too but those idiots they call devs nerfed my preferred class so much It was pointless to continue playing the character anymore, not to mention always tweaking for the PvP players. Hate PvP, I am good when it come to that I just hate all the BS involved with my epeen is bigger then yours. Played Tabula Rasa and honestly it was rather refreshing for a change but we all know thats over and done with in Feb. As for WoW for me it just sucked. nothing about the game made me want to stay. So fuck WoW and lets stop talking about it please?

Anon because once the WoWtards read this it will be a holy war :)

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Star Wars, Star Trek and Comics--been there done that

I would applaud a real successor to the WoW monopoly. But we're still a little devoid of good ideas. We've already had a superhero MMO with City of Heroes/Villans that is bland and repetitious. Star Wars Galaxies was a great idea that was subsequently crippled by idiots in charge in attempts to improve things to make people happy. Star Trek really hasn't had a real MMO, but any and all games using that license have been pathetic to say the least (short of Starfleet Command 3--what, 1 in 10 success rate??)

I want these to succeed, but the key problem is every developer's desire to please everyone so they can assure they get the market share in the same league as WoW. Balance, balance, balance... if there's is balance then maybe we'll have something. A balance between carebears and PvPers; a balance between combat, support and crafting; a balance between hack-n-slash and roleplaying/story. Oh and this complaint is as old as the problem... DON'T RELEASE SOMETHING HALF BAKED!

Good luck to seeing anyone succeed in the above.

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Interesting the effect one word can have

This article seemed like it was authored by someone who was very in-the-know all the way until I encountered a single word: grieving

griefing ftw ;)

Completely destroyed my confidence in the author :p Just kidding - I'm really not knocking the article/author - I just found it interesting that one little letter could change one's perception (well, at the very, least my perception) so much...

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Nice to have a different subject for once.

Personally I think Blizzard's greatest strength is a fanatical attention detail. I've not played WoW but I fondly remember losing days and nights to Warcraft I & II and subsequently Starcraft. They bed the games in excellent and intriguing stories. Having played both in English and German I can attest to the detailed choice of throwaway phrases and, just as important, to their speakers given to peasants, etc. I'm avidly looking forward to Starcraft 3 and glad I won't need to by a new MacBook to play it. Photorealism on anything but a PS3 is so overrated. Games must engage the user and encourage the come back for more.

My brother is one of the eleven million and was previously basically addicted to Everquest. From what I can see WoW seems significantly more sociable inasmuch as it doesn't insist on 24/7 gaming. That would certainly favour occasional, "social" gamers. You know the ones who actually remember what outside is!

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(Written by Reg staff)

@ Peyton

Fine then, griefing it is! At least you didn't call me a n00b.

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Not likely

Every game that's come along to challenge WoW has failed spectacularly because they target that niche you were talking about, not just in terms of hardware, but also the type of player.

They've tried to be the hardcore players' best friend and ended up alienating the masses.

You correctly pointed out that Blizzard's success is that they managed to produce a game that be as complicated or as simple as you, the player, want it to be and over the years have refined it to a very polished and very stable game.

It's hardly perfect, no software can be perfect, but down time is limited to 1 weekday a week, usually at times when the majority of us will be working or studying. The rare occasion where that downtime encroaches onto the average person's game time usually results in additional days being added to your subscription.

But the biggest part of why WoW is so popular is for once we actually have an online game that appeals to women almost as much as men. Don't know about the rest of you, but simply playing and interacting with both men and women is a far more enjoyable experience than playing with a bunch of anal schoolboys with no life.

Doesn't mean that sort of person can't be happy in WoW too, there are many of them here, but regular people are catered for just as well, and best of all, most of the advanced and best content is accessible to the rest of us that aren't hardcore players.

This has taken time, and any new game would need to be given a chance to get that polish and stability you talk about if you want to be fair. But when they bring their systems down during the most popular times of day and days of the week to play an online game, when their patches and fixes make the game worse (or in the case of Conan, literally unplayable if you choose the 'wrong' type of character) they're hardly endearing themselves to the type of casual player they'll need if they want millions rather than hundreds of subscribers.

Also no other game has incorporated the social aspect of WoW so flawlessly. I talk about playing with men and women, and how that's a far more enjoyable experience, however if the social tools weren't there to support this, it just wouldn't matter who was playing.

It's not that other games don't have the same features, but rather that they're so intuitive within WoW, to the point where you don't have to think about how to find a friend or communicate using voice over ip software, it just works.

During the 2 years I've played WoW I've given 3 other games a chance to win my approval, mostly because I enjoyed the genres they belonged to. But the simple fact they're exclusively populated by the very people I don't particularly enjoy playing with, the kind of hardcore player that talks in some weird, alternative internet language of their pwn, has put me off all of them pretty much immediately.

The people I play with come from all walks of life, from firefighters to construction workers, office assistants to network administrators, men and women with real lives and families and who understand that I can't spend 8 hours at a time inside a game world if I want to remain married. These people simply wouldn't set foot in any of the games that called themselves "WoW killers" and that will probably hold true of the next year's offerings too.

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WoW and the red queen

The longer the game stays, the more it evolves. But there is a reason WoW will ultimately fail:

Exponential expansions have an end.

A few months ago, new rules made it faster to level up to the maximum level. Of course, that was before the maximum level of 70 was changed to 80 by Wrath of the Lich King. But this hints at the main problem of WoW: They need to keep adding high-level content. This has the unfortunate, but unavoidable result that low-level areas are practically no-man's lands. The old top instances are practically unused, considering the rewards are worth next to nothing.

Blizzard has to keep generating more and more content just to retain players... in an universe which is larger and larger, but more and more empty.

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Disappointed...

There's no mention of Aion, NCSoft's upcoming MMO due next year.

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Paris Hilton

11 million players huh?

so lets work this out...

assume you're paying 15 bucks a month for wow...

11 million * $15 = 165,000,000 bucks PER MONTH!!!!!

that's a shitload of $$$$ in nayones dictionary.. now why can't we get it on linux :(( hmm why am I bothered, i prefer nethack :P)

omfgwtf!

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Coat

Re: And Jagex's RuneScape?

Their market is mostly outside the UK. So it is not surprising that one of the most successful small UK companies is not covered by a UK press article.

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WoW will be hard to take down

I like WoW for the social aspects. There are quite a few members of my family that play WoW - gals and guys both. We can do things alone, together, or just chat. WoW also puts serious skull sweat into making things fun for both the hardcore and the occasional gamer. They celebrate holidays, have carnivals, and don't take themselves too seriously. Blizzard is far from perfect, but they are better than anyone else right now. Eventually they will lose the MMO crown they took from Everquest, but it will take major screwups from them as well as a better game available. Just having a better game will not be enough to take their market share away.

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WoW Sequel

http://www.theonion.com/content/video/warcraft_sequel_lets_gamers_play

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Specs

There's a reason why I've been playing WoW and none of the new MMOs - my laptop can handle WoW fine but doesn't meet the minimum spec for the new ones.

There's also a few nice things (I don't know if these are true of other MMOs, but I know WoW does it) - you don't have to keep playing. I cancelled my sub for 6 months, when I returned all my characters, items, etc. were exactly how I left them. By the time that happened, a new expansion had come out. I didn't have to buy the expansion till *I* was ready.

So, for a relatively casual player like me with ageing equipment and a life outside the game, there's nothing to make me want to leave... but there seems to be plenty of content for long-time players as well. I pick WoW up when I want to, catch up with a few (real-life) friends in-game, have some fun, drop for a month or 2 then carry on where I left off. What more could you want?

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Emo
Flame

No mention

of Eve Online then?

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Bronze badge

McDonalds of MMOs

Someone had to say it. Popularity != quality.

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So WoW is ...

Judging by the way the article reads, the reason that WoW succeeds is because it is a very, very easy PVE game with little danger of having your character killed by the little beasties or, horror of horrors, in PVP.

And of those 11 million "accounts" I wonder how many of them are actually active and how many of them are accounts abandonded by people bored out of their skulls who never bothered to cancel.

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The elephant in the room...

...is cheating.

I know several people who defected from WoW to Age of Conan when it launched. Better graphics, better PvP, the ability for players to build their own cities--on paper, it looks, and plays, much better than WoW.

But the early versions of Age of Conan were rife with exploits; in fact, an exploit package, AOCbuddy, quickly began circulating which gave players abilities such as invisibility, infinite hit points, the ability to teleport anywhere on the map, the ability to see all hidden or stealthed characters, and so on--all from a convenient pop-up menu.

Every player I know personally--every one without exception--who left WoW for Age of Conan quit AoC in disgust when the game maker refused to take action to close the vulnerabilities and stop the exploits. In fact, my understanding is that most of these exploits still have not been fixed. At this point, players who do not cheat are at such an overwhelming disadvantage that there's no point playing.

Security is hard.

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Coat

wow will meet its match.... blah.

Paraphrasing experienced watchers of the genre, Penny-Arcades quote sums it up best : sure, we're all up for starting a new game, but who will you play with? everyones raiding tonight.

So, why do I play and keep playing? Was I blown away by northrend? In a link, No : http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2008/11/14/

I play because I talk to my guild. We're not obsessive minmaxers, the majority of our guild seem to be mothers and students, working part time; people without the resources or opportunity to seek social engagements elsewhere. I play because my girlfriend plays, and it avails me an opportunity to play a game for 8 hours and still be a good boyfriend : a couple of trips to the games auctionhouse later and she has some nice stuff waiting for her next time she logs in.

Mostly I play because other MMOs are plain _bad_. Conan was a bug-filled nightmare, things like Runescape and Puzzle Pirates are too simple and utterly dominated by minmaxers farming resources, As for the LOTRO fan, are you serious? I beta tested that lumbering sack of ass, and its empty, sterile world, greivous lack of character diversity, mesh diversity and "rich writing", reminiscent of a 12-year old who just read the books for the first time and now needs to turn in a creative writing assignment frankly made me ill. Lets see, who else? Star Wars Galaxy was mangled, and mangled again and again in order to please children who desperately wanted everyone in the game to be a jedi. D&D-Stormreach was a potential wowkiller. it had the D&D seal of approval. unfortunately, D&D fans are some of the pickiest, most anal-retentive minmaxers on the face of the earth, and when you dick with 'their' rules, you'll spend 25 hours a day answering badly phrased customer service email.I'd be playing warhammer online right now if it was WH40K, but unsurprisingly it isnt, and if I wanted to sit down with dwarves and elves and humans and evil guys in armour id be playing... oh wait. Guildwars crippled itself with the free-to-play mechanic restricting its cashflow and preventing serious investment, and dont even get me started on hellgate, a game which seemed so desperate to fail it hired immature 10 year olds to do its writing: poop jokes and "hes crazy" quest plots that were so yawningly juvenile I felt sorry for the publisher.

which leaves me with the game I left for warcraft; EVE online. you want to talk about stringent death-penality? all your money goes into your ship, and into your current bodies implants. you die, you lose your ship and your implants; weeks, sometimes months of workwasted by two smart guys with some stunfighter/gunship combo. EVE was also created too early in the technological development of computers; a lot of the interface is bland and sterile, the graphics are lackluster, and the games key professions are tedious, window-driven affairs that sap the soul mightily. Why did I play eve? its level of unashamed complexity and its frankly ASTOUNDING mechanism for preventing farming, of time-restricting your skills, coupled with its nasty death penalties created an environment full of articulate, smart people, who've all experienced devestating ship loss. I played EVE because I liked the people. I play warcraft because I like the people and the game isnt a detriment.

I play for the same reason you order pizza from the same place every week. Sure, you'd try other places, but invariably they serve the same meat-and-cheese-on-bread combo your regular place does, with nothing to differentiate themselves from the herd. your place has been doing it longer and better, and you know the menu inside out and upside down. in order for you to call up someone else for pizza, they are going to have to start botching your orders.

So what will it take to get me to jump ship? I'd take a fallout MMO or a WH40K mmo. I'd like these games to be intuitive and facilitate easy conversation between players. if they are going to implement PVP, instituting a two-faction system is still a smart choice, it gives you an enemy you can hate and smack-talk about, and some friends you dont have to worry are going to knife you in the back all the time. It doesnt have to be hyperrealistic, you dont have to slavishly follow Lore to produce a good game. Character classes have to be balanced, and you're going to have to work tirelessly to make sure nobody is irrelevant : this is a ball even blizzard frequently manages to drop, as the large changes in batteground class makeup will show you.

what does warcraft have to do to lose me? Not much, really. I found northrend to be an easy, tedious chore punctuated by the occasional nice vehicle or cutscene treat.. Im tired of obvious corner-cutting; no new meshes or racetype for their new uber-class, giving shamans and paladins to their counterpart factions. the abandoning of potentially rich player interaction irritates me; Tradeskill inter-reliance is virtually non-existant. Meshes for new northrend weaponry and armour are almost all identical; a northrend character wearing plate armour looks the same as every other northrender in plate, regardless of class, role, or even level. these may seem like minor complaints, but I feel that if you have the massive capital and the ability to hire the best that blizzard does, I cant fathom why the writing seems to be getting worse, the quest mechanics are utterly devoid of innovation, and simple things like character meshes are being completely neglected. forgiveable for a new MMO or one with a limited playerbase. for one as well established and cash-rich as wow, Im beginning to wonder what they are spending the money on.

WoW has, I feel, turned the corner. they will slowly lose players due to a simple truth; it sucks to be new. starting over on a new server with no high-level character to buy you stuff is a chore. but starting as a new player is worse; everything in the auction house is too much for you, the starting areas are either completely empty or populated by people who already have half a dozen endgame characters and will respond to your enquiries for help with STFU, RTFM. Your path to 80 will be a slow, annoying one where everyone whizzes past you, sleepwalking their way through the games early content. The game, as it stands, simply isnt friendly to brand new players, and it isnt offering long-time players anything new. they can probably coast along for a year on this lack of creativity, but it wont be long before we're letting our accounts go idle to play something fun again (I reccommend LittleBigPlanet)

mine is the one with the tedious repuation-grind quests in it. Exalted with sporeggar? Can I really?

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Another reason for success

They already had a huge fan/gamerbase. The first Warcraft came out in 1996; two sequels, each with an expansion pack, kept players interested over the years. Battle.net lets people play against each other at any time without having to organize a LAN party. They had created an entire world with rich history and lore; WoW let people step into that world. No surprise it's been so successful. Most other MMORPGs don't have anywhere near as much of an advantage.

Being appealing to casual players with things like the minimal death penalty is also a big plus. I can have my level 6 ass handed to me by ice trolls over and over without losing anything but a bit of spare change. Anyone like myself who doesn't like PvP combat can just turn it off and not have to worry about being randomly whacked by some 60/70/80th level character.

Still, I do question those numbers. I'd like to know how many of those accounts are active and not chinese/korean/indian gold farmers.

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@Heff

You mentioned Star Wars Galaxies and how it was mangled to please the kids who desperately wanted to be a jedi - I was actually intending to post something along those lines as well.

I remember when I started playing that game, and with a whole bunch of friends on Teamspeak we used to go to Dathomir for rancor hunts - as that was the ONLY way you could kill them. Groups used to form at the shuttle port, with 10+ people per time, and it was still about a 50-50 chance of survival.

You see, THAT was fun - that balance felt right. It didn't feel so much like a grind to me back then - but then they nerfed around with the professions and released new armour, which made players (particularly the Teras Kasi hand-to-hand) so powerful that you no longer needed a group to go kill rancors. Going out by yourself and punching a Rancor in the face until it died just didn't have the same appeal - and of course, because you no longer needed a group to hunt, people stopped playing together.

Then there was PVP - full of people exploiting little bugs so that they became more or less unbeatable. Some people would argue that it wasn't cheating because the game allowed it, but it's like using your hand in a game of football when the ref isn't looking.

The whole game descended into a mess of scriptors grinding away professions while AFK, and suddenly instead of a MMORPG, you had a load of people who just happened to be grinding individually on the same server. This was still back in the days when you had to grind professions as dictated by the jedi holocrons, and as a Jedi your character could actually die, losing the perhaps months worth of work you put into it.

Then they nerfed that too and introduced a quest based (in theory) system for becoming a jedi, meaning everyone would just go off and do these quests by themselves. Then eventually they signed the death warrant by making Jedi a selectable profession, so basically you didn't even have to work for it any more - and nerfed the character down so a fully trained jedi was weaker than even some of the other professions.

I got into roleplay with the MERPC, which saved the game for me for about a year, but it was entirely due to the other players and peoples imagination, and if anything in spite of whatever the devs threw at the game.

I can't speak for WoW so much, but it sounds to me very much like it has turned a similar corner that SWG did a few years ago. Whereas SWG alienated it's steady userbase by "noobifying" the game to try and attract more players, WoW seems to be alienating new players by catering solely for its existing userbase. Neither of these is a scenario which bodes well for the future as they both lack the balance needed.

I'd give WoW a year unless they pull something magic out of their hats. Of course there will still be people playing it in a years time, but I can forsee one or more of the other big titles coming in the following months clawing away at WoW's userbase.

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Happy

@Heff

Wait, wait....gotta stop laughing....

a WoW player telling us that the dialogue in LotRo is childish.... oh, stop, I'm weeping with laughter...!

(other than that, good article! And I hear tales of a Fallout MMO in the pipes....)

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Anonymous Coward

Why Wow...

few reasons.. the game runs on nearly everything, yes you have to turn the detaisl down but its playable on most laptops as well as on high end machines.

Games like warhammer online (which i played for a bit) managed to break this and AoC was far too resource hungry, a fair few people who play warcraft will be watching a video or somethign at the same time less resources the better.

This is something mmo makers need to think about, get the system resources low and try to make it scale.

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Alien

I signed up for a MMORPG once

But then realised I had a life.

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Happy

Girls gone WoW

Girls (or my friends and I, certainly) play WoW cos it has beautiful graphics, it introduces you properly with beginners areas, it has logical questlines to follow and in a lot of cases, our friends are playing. We go out and socialise together, guilds have become glue which bind people across countries (Dutch, Swedish, Norgwegian and Brits in our guild) and it's a way of being part of a team when you live in an isolated bit of the countryside. It's critical mass - all my mates play it and no other MMO, so of course I'm going to stay with WoW. It's where all my gear is, my understanding of MMO's is, my achievements are and my real life friends are.

It's the least geeky MMO, possibly, but it's also the most welcoming to people who've never MMO'd before.

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Linux

Heff, blah

LoTRO isn't for everyone I guess. It seems to put off the killkiddies.

We had members of our kin head off to AoC to try that, all cancelled their AoC accounts.

One queued up to get the latest WoW expansion, they got bored and are back with us.

I think the LoTRO market is different to the other MMOs. Yes you get MMO players but you get folk like my wife and I,wouldn't play an MMO but are Tolkien fans and can appreciate the work in the game spinning off little details into quest chains.

So it looks like the war to get your niche is to be free (Guildwars) or have a good story/setting (loTRO).

I have no interest in WoW personally but good luck to them

Tux because I must try getting LoTRO to run under Wine

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Unhappy

MMO: Fun < Cost

There's a very simple reason I don't play WoW, or any of the others - subs cost. In any given month, I may have no time at all to play games like this - because, let's be honest, you need a couple of hours free for a session to make it worthwhile. I'm not prepared to pay money on the offchance I'll have enough time to make use of it. I have a family, I work away from home sometimes, I like to do other things, like going outside, or playing with the dog. Crazy, I know.

That's why I bought Guild Wars (and the expansions), because it doesn't matter if I can't play it for a couple of months, it's not costing me anything to have it sitting on the shelf. Sure, it's not as polished as WoW etc, but then it's not costing me over £100 a year after purchase.

If there was an alternative option to be "billed" for MMO actual use - even at, say 50p/hour charged to a card, I'd buy a few, because then it would be worthwhile, as I'd pay for what I used, rather than for the time it sits on the shelf. If in a given month, I could play for 3 hours, it'd cost me something more reasonable than the current pricing model does. I'd take the hit if I ever had a month where I could play more than 20 hours, as most gamers undoubtedly do.

I'd love to play Warhammer, and the new Star Wars looks great, as I loved the old KOTOR games - but being forced to hand over my money every month whether I play or not means they will never grace my HDD.

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Thumb Up

EVE

Glad someone mentioned EvE, nothing says harsh penalty for death like you cruiser being blown to shit and you were too cheap to insure it =D

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Alien

@James

And finding your missing a months worth of training, marooned in the deepest, darkest depths of Stain having forgotten to renew your clone and its location :-))

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Flame

@Emo -- sssshhhhh!

Let them have the swords, bows and hack n slash leveling that requires hours upon hours of boredom.

Dunno about you Emo but I don't want Eve-O to get much bigger. With the new stackless IO n stuff Eve is performing like a dream for me and there is always a big fight brewing if you want one! I'm happy training skills whilst I'm at work and off-line, getting home, jumping in a ship and shooting someone ..... yaarrr! And then there is the billion isk (read dollar/pound) scamming that happens, the politics, the wars, the empire ganking .... a real game! :)

Seriously though, having tried WoW I think they had a great level of complexity (or rather, not) so that the masses could get on with it. The relativley low specs required was always going to help and the forumla of hack n slash had proved a win before. Good on ya Blizzard!

p.s. don't start ranting about hack n slash compared to mining, only idiots and newbies mine.

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PlanetSide

Anyone fancy a PlanetSide revival?

A game where people work together to actually do something that lasts for more than an hour against other people, and not just "questing"

Tabula Rasa was alright, WAR is good enough, but the MMO thing does nothing for me. I like to have an element of skill not just click click click victory.

Persistent world, FPS, squad tactics. Anyone that has plaed PS has at least 20 good stories to tell. One of which will involve comedy transport antics. Classic.

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Everquest to WoW (a brief history of timesinks)

I played EverQuest for years which, at the time, was the definitive MMORPG. It did a lot of things "wrong" although Sony changed the gameplay a lot to mitigate some of this (For instance, if you couldn't get to your corpse in 7 days it went to an "underworld" zone where you could go and get it at leisure, then they introduced a place you could pay an NPC to summon your corpse to you from wherever it was - oh, and certain character classes could Rez you which gave you almost all your XP loss back) *however* it did a lot of things right.

EverQuest: Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion was the first ever introduction of Instanced zones and set the standard.

EverQuest did *not* prevent different factions from talking to each other which is the single stupidest idea in WoW.

The game is no longer recognisable from the version I played (although you still need to group with other players in order to do *anything* at higher levels) and, being so old, there's very few people left playing.

So I tried EverQuest II which was a game Sony created from scratch themselves and, at launch, it had some major problems. Notably you couldn't select your character class at the start so, in the beginning, you couldn't play the character you wanted to play. You couldn't get past certain levels until you'd completed some arbitrary quest to get nearer to the class you wanted to be... oh and it needed serious hardware to run, for the time.

Then I tried WoW. Now this felt like EQ2 *should* have been as it played very similarly and I enjoyed how much effort Blizz obviously put into the quests and lore and I liked that I could do things even on my own with one or two hours only to play. Then the novelty wore off and I couldn't stand the majority of the other players, so peurile and annoying and selfish and, well, everyting that my experiences in EQ were not.

I now exclusively play EverQuest II which has not only fixed everything I didn't like, it is by far the best MMO I've ever played. It's not masochistically evil to you like EQ1 if you cock up, it allows me to play casually, solo or with other players, has all the quest flavour, lore etc... that WoW has, the instanced mission system is *much* better than WoW, has more constantly developing content and world events that the players actually take part in and it's generally a better game all round.

The problem? EQ2 was a bad game at launch whereas WoW was a good game. A lot of people stayed with WoW and as it got more popular even more people joined in. I know one guy who went into the shop to buy Warcraft III, picked up the wrong box and became an instant fan of MMOs, WoW being his first.

The secrets of WoW's success, then: a) It wasn't shit at launch unlike it's rival at the time. b) It's easy to play, so accessible to people new to MMO gaming. c) It's got plenty of goodies for the hardcore munchkins too. d) It has all the player base so you'll never sit around on an empty server waiting for people to log on to play with.

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Happy

pre-wow

I'm still playing final fantasy online. I did play wow for about a year but I got bored by endgame and I didnt fancy repeating content on a different char. FF seems never ending and I find the combat experience to be vastly superior Its not without its flaws though and Im sure blizzard learnt a lot off it.

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Linux

Wow's got some life left in it..

...despite the persistant prophesies of doom which occur every time they patch it. WoW is no longer catering to the hard core raiding crowd, looking at the end game now is a clear indication of that, so it is losing the "traditional" MMORPG gamer. But that's not its primary market any more, WoW is a game for casuals and that's intentional. It's been drifting that way since the launch of BC and it's firmly entrenched there now. The fanbase is there to stay now since it's more like MSN with orcs than something you really need to try at.

The WoW killer will be made by Blizzard, almost certainly.

Thecowking

Tux, because you can play WoW on Linux quite happily.

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Boffin

Eve-Online

nerdtacular clearly, but superb in an unutterably complex, slow-burning way.

i've have my eve characters for years now, and whilst they'll frequently endure months of inactivity, all other games are just a temporary break from eve.

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