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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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Coat

Eve-Cruiser?

Nothing says harsh death penalty like losing a carrier, in Providence, while ratting.

Mines the one with the looted tech 2 gubbins

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@ Heff

Yes the Lotro fan was serious. Judging by your comments I wonder if you ever actually played the game, but then again it does have a much more mature player base...

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Boffin

Tech issues

I like WOTLK, but I do worry about WoW in general as it seems to get more bugs and issues in a game that they've worked on for 4+ years. Something in the underlying tech seems to be creaking at the seams.

When everything is explained with "lag" you might want to rethink your approach to it.

What I really want is for "someone" to do GTA World and let you form all kinds of guilds/gangs/corporations/families and plan/execute massive heists, and a bit of assassinations and deliveries on the side.

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Paris Hilton

World of Jedi

I would love to see a Star Wars franchise MMORPG - all those childhood dreams of having my own TIE Advanced (the Empire having much cooler uniforms - much like the Germans did inWWII).

Now if the gang at Blizz could use the same engin as WoW I guess they would be on a winner. Could even expanded it further - each "realm" as in the WoW structure could be handled as a seperate star system and the PvP could be truely interstella!!

Paris = cos of her Massive Mulitples Online...

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I gotta say...

Me thinks that WoW is the first hugely successful MMO, but not the first massively successful multiplayer. That crown must go CounterStrike. In my younger years, I spent far, far too much time playing CS.

The author hit on every reason for the success of WoW. It's relatively simple (and because of the user base, any question can be answered in moments with a quick Google search), it runs quite well on my 'bleeding-edge, 4 years ago' PC, it can be abandoned for months at a stretch with no penalty, etc.

This game will be hard to knock-off of the top. Blizzard has had the luxury of time to add and perfect a tremendous amount of content. They have a user base who lets them know, quite vocally, when the game has gone in the wrong direction. It's become a bit of a self-perpetuating monster.

My prediction is that, like CS, WoW will reach a peak, and then slowly fade away. Just like the first-person shooter genre, other games will peck-away at WoW's user base, but there will never be another game that is as dominant. Something that Blizzard does realize is that, unlike Valve with CS, it's best to create incremental releases to the original, rather than risking the release of an entirely separate version which dares users to re-assess (Half-Life II with CounterStrike Source). Yes, I understand that the revenue models are entirely different - but the folks sitting at home playing for hours don't care.

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Ian

Perspective

Before I start, I'm not necessarily saying Warhammer online will beat WoW overtime, but it's far too early to write it off just yet.

Warhammer online was built in around 2 - 3 years, whilst WoW was built in over 6 years, I'd say therefore that Mythic is capable of putting content together faster than Blizzard are and it's of equally good quality, so they have a lot of potential with their expansions in that they could add massive additions to the game, more so than Blizzard has been able to with their expansions.

But more important is the fact that at it's stage of life, Warhammer online actually has a higher subscribe figure than WoW did at the same point, and so the real question is whether they can roll with that and keep it growing until you get the snowball rolling down a hill and growing effect we've seen with WoW.

The possibility is there, it's not as clear cut as saying Warhammer online didn't make it, because on a subscribers to age of game basis it's actually ahead.

All we can do is wait and see what happens for now, writing it off is rather foolish, even if it fails it's at least been the closest contender so far and WoW as with every MMO can't last for ever- Blizzards claim of 11 million subscribers is interesting, because this is a decrease from it's claimed 12 million a year ago.

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It has a lot to do with machine specs

WoW works simply because it will run on just about anything.

My 1 year old £2k Dell XPS laptop was turning itself off because it was getting so hot playing WAR. It was lag-freeze everytime more than 10 people were in front of me and I had to spend hours getting any kind of playability.

WoW installed, patched and I was playing with no fuss with every setting on maximum. I could raid with 25 people or chill out by an auction house with 50+ outside and never have a problem.

When the game makers stop making games for 1% of the population and get them working for the majority of the population you'll probably have a winner.

Unreal tournament was the first game I ever came across that made the game for the 1%. I think it was 3 years later until I had a machine that could run it smooth. For that reason I was playing quake for many years instead of UT.

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Dead Vulture

Rookie fail

"And there's profits to be had by owning the number two - hell, the twenty-second-best selling MMO out there."

No, experience has consistently shown that the market can only support a small number of MMOs, where "small number" is clearly considerably less than 22. This is because of a need for critical mass.

The games industry has known this for three years. Did the author actually consult anyone in said industry? Looks to me like he just looked up some annual reports and then pontificated.

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No one will kill WoW, it will kill itself.

I hate to put it this way, but the only thing thats going to kill WoW, is WoW itself. Its like windows XP, it may not be the greatest thing out there, but the people who use it finally have everything the way they want it, and everyone has it. The only way WoW will die (and it will, eventually) is by attrition, someone mentioned this before, as it stands the noob areas are empty, and it works to a point where new players just aren't subbing as much anymore, eventually the game will stagnate, and the old players will leave and not be replaced by anyone. Heck, I doubt Blizzard could even make a proper WoW killer, unless they shut down WoW's servers before it released.

That being said, I do have a few MMOs I'm looking forward to. Most notably Jumpgate Evolution, I played the previous Jumpgate, and it was by far the most innovative and fun MMO I'd played, but unfortunately fell into obscurity. I doubt it will make it to a point of being a massive success, but I think it will carve out a nice strong niche in the SciFi MMO and space flight sim markets,

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Coat

MMO=Nerd?

FFXI was my first MMO and I loved it but was ultimately sucked into WoW due to the fact it didn't demand so much of my time to acheive something and I think this is the main reason it has been so successful. I for one have a fairly healthy social life, I play football twice a week, play guitar in a band, have a girlfriend and a healthy amount of friends (a handful of which also play) who i find time to see outside of a game. WoW has a massive appeal to people like me who are a fan of the genre but also want a healthy balance of gaming as a hobby and life.

I think it's fairly disappointing that people who are fans of this genre are still branded with the reclusive geek stick and people make a point to mock them for it - and especially so in the comments above, reg being a site for IT news and all, and the whole assumption that IT bods are geeks - It wasn't too long ago that many people viewed gaming to be a pass time for kids and that adults gaming, no matter if it were D&D fantasy worlds, FPS or sports sim games, were seen to be geeks or had some other stigma attached to them. Whilst I have no doubt that there are many a nerdy type with little social (real)life in existence playing these games it seems a little harsh, and somewhat narrow minded, to jump on the abusive bandwagon. So this isn't your cup of tea, we are all different and have different tastes and preferences in our hobbies, why mock people for it?

Mine's the one with "why can't we all just get along?" written on the back.

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Anonymous Coward

WAR & WoW

Firstly I just want to point out that WoW didn't have a successful launch in Europe. WAR beat it on this, and the new Star Wars game is being developed by Bioware and not Sony.

WAR and WoW while both being MMOs cannot really be compared as they are two very different games. WoW is designed as mainly being a PVE quest-a-thon with a bit of PVP added on the side, and WAR is a PVP mainly game where two sides fight it out for castles and control of regions in the hope of eventually conquering and looting the other sides main city. This is not a surprise as it's based on the tabletop game.

Also with WAR a casual gamer can play PVP from the moment they create a character. They don't need to play for 8 days to level the character up and then play regularly to be in a top guild to enjoy PVP.

At the moment I'm bored of questing and so I'm enjoying playing WAR and it's style of PVP. As someone who never liked PVP before I'm having quite a lot of fun.

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Go

Real People play EVE Online

We think WoW is for kids.

http://www.eve-online.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSt-b0ksr7A <--- EVE Online Super Trailer so you dont have to download the whole thing.

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Ash

EVE Online

Far far superior.

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WoW in the eyes of an EVE player

Well, I decided a few days ago to update the video drivers on my trusty old HP laptop. Grabbed the latest from AMD's site, and installed. It decided to put a WoW trial icon on my desktop. Since I was on-call and unable to really commit myself to a several hour stretch of killing other players in EVE, I decided I would check to see if the things I've heard about WoW are true.

I created my account and downloaded a streamlined trial client. Character creation was pretty straightforward, no surprises. In about 10 minutes, I had a basic grasp on the UI, interacting with NPC's, moving, left and right click functions, and how to access the tips that pop up unobtrusively. In about a half hour I had completed a few basic quests and earned a couple of levels.

It was very easy to pick up and play the game. It ran wonderfully on my old laptop, too, consistently holding a smooth 20fps which is fine considering the genre/gameplay style. I can see the mass-market appeal in that, just load the game and follow the directions it gives you as you progress. Just about anyone can create and account and start playing quickly.

EVE is a brutal universe, a sandbox for people to grief each other in new and interesting ways, with a confusing menu and serious lack of documentation. It is a constant challenge and learning experience, whereas WoW is a lot more simple to learn to play with more focus on fun and in-game progress. They are very different but it is easy to see why WoW is so popular.

That being said, I will be maintaining my 3 EVE accounts and will continue to leave burning wreckage in my wake, but I am not so certain I will be providing Blizzard with my credit card number anytime soon, the risk vs. reward scale doesn't challenge me personally and it seems a little too easy IMO.

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just laugh and point....

at anyone so out of touch with the world that they think we're all virgins and social misfits, it's the other way around......sat on an IT news site having a pop at a game they've never played in a comments section that only other nerds will ever read. Yeah I bet your social calender is just brimming with wild drug fuelled orgies!

@ Ian, I think you are mistaken on the 12 million claim.

they announced 10 million about a year ago after the release of Burning Crusade. that is active paying accounts, although that will include a handful like me with multiples......they hit 11 a few months before Lich King and are saying they expect to hit 12 early next year.

I don't think there will be a wow killer, unless you count time and the fickle nature of the masses. I think it will slowly die off, and only then once the looming spectre of WoW has stopped overshadowing everyone, will we get to see something else really big happen.......I really cannot see Warhammer doing it, tastes too much like chicken after playing DAoC for a couple of years and WoW for 4.

If they were going to do a GW game, it should have been 40k based.

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Pirate

Cites(world) of Grand Theft Auto ?

Wonder if Rockstar have pondered the idea of their own ganster/racegame(GTA/Midnight Club) hybrid mmorpg?

If any one is cash rich enough to turn their own franchise into an online world surely its Rockstar?

If find there games are excellent fun to play, well at least the GTA series is.

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Flame

Snarf...

Oh, the wowtards are out in force, I see.

Playing MMORGs is incompatible with being a properly functioning adult member of society. I used to do F2F rpg and the experience of MMORGs after that is hollow. Oh, pretty graphics - lovely. But it is so limited. It's flavourless. It's the McDonalds of the imagination. WoW is The Man. MMORG providers are The Man. It's a huge investment of hours with no real social interaction. There is no collaborative effort in imagining something. You are spoon-fed the gruel of some retarded commitee.

Online wargames, I get. In someways, far superior to F2F. Hidden movement and all that. But rpgs, no, sorry, You smell. It's like when you go into a bookshop and there is some sweaty fat slug browsing manga shit in search of T&A. They leave a trail of slime. You can't touch what they've touched - it invites disease.

You people make me sick. MMORGs is a realm of colon introspection. You have no right to call yourselves human beings. You are zombies marching to the beat of a slacker drum.

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Happy

Ragnarok

That is all.

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Thumb Down

Warcraft Sucks!

It is without doubt the most annoying and godawful game EVER created. There is no overall story or motivation for the world, it's far less social than other MMOPGs.

However, for all it's faults there's one thing that gets me more than anything else. It made the pay once and pay again each month MMOPG model popular! Grrrrrr! Stargate: Alliance (a standard FPS/Strategy) was cancelled because MGM saw more money in an MMOPG, which is also going under. You don't get anything better than the free/no subscription games so who are the MORONS, who keep paying for a game they've already spent £40 on to buy in the first instance? The fact that WoW is so popular makes be believe that the world is truely populated with idiots and morons (the roman definition that is)

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Stop

WTF is wrong with you people!?

I think you people need to gain some perspective (esp the AC troller who posted the 'snarf' comment above, take some pills dude... jeez).

At the end of the day it's only a bloody game, if people want to waste their lives then it's not harming you. Deal with it.

BTW, love the posting by Heff, very entertaining! I too played EQ1 since the early days then followed my friends across to EQ2.... for about a week until the resource hungry client made me jack it in. (The towns would just take AGES to load... I upgraded to 1GB of ram (which was a lot at the time) and I'd STILL have to use medium graphics settings).

Then there came WoW, which totally blew me away. Amazing graphics, brilliant story (a continuation of the amazing Warcraft saga), virtually no bugs (this was a big thing, esp after EQ1 had to be patched nearly every day - the phrase "it's not a bug, it's a feature" originated from here I believe)... AND, most important of all - it would run (and still look pretty) on just about anything!

Love it or loathe it, you can't deny it is a good game =)

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Coat

Tardy replies...

Sorry about this; been moving around for the holidays.

@Nick G : actually, I was in the USA LOTRO Beta, and played for about 2 weeks after it went gold to seeif they fixed the mountain of playability and dire content issues they had at beta. they didnt.

@Steve Swann : yeah, I know it seems deeply fanboyish of me to expect good writing from LOTRO and not from Warcraft, but LOTRO is effectively saying its going to render tolkiens world online, whereas WoW is the MMO of Arthas and his bloody big sledgehammer-o-doom and a million green peons yelling lok-tar-ogar at everything; likewise id expect exceptional writing from a Fallout MMO, and not from Barbies Horse Adventures Online.

@martin : it annoys me no end when people will fuck up a good Splayer gameconcept in order to make a hackneyed run for the mmo crown. the wisdom to not to that seems rare these days, can you imagine a Portal MMO? or doom, or stalker? All undeniably excellent games which rely on your being _alone_ in order to create part of that success.

and as for the people going wah! wah! wow= fat lonely guys w/spots w/grease w/socialdeathinabasement : you're smack-talking people on a comments section of a tech-oriented news site. really? Dont throw stones.

also also : guess what nobody mentioned? Archlord. Thats right. I went there. I dont think anyone else did, though, urgh. Or Matrix Online, hahaha. He is the one! and so are you! and, uh, your friends, too.

Mine is the matrix trenchcoat indistinguishable from all others

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Flame

Re: Snarf

Another keyboard warrior.

Sure, I play. Sometimes too much, but I dare say I'm far from the fat, sweaty unhygienic basement-dweller that your narrow-mindedness seems to think the players of MMORPG's tend to be.

This is a tech news site, most reading here are IT professionals, so does it really surprise you the 'wowtards' are out in force? There's a side to the game that seems to have flown far above your head, you've underestimated the social appeal of the game, and you're unaware of the side of the game that pleases us number-crunchers, us fans of economics, and the satisfying pleasure of taking down an oversized behemoth of an end-game boss, whilst throwing around some banter on Ventrilo. It caters for the masses, it does it very well. It's all too much for you, fine, keep playing your online wargames. But you won't hear me assuming you're some kind of closet Nazi khaki-wearing air rifle enthusiast.

Posting anonymously because it seems fashionable, and work would rather disapprove.

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Flame

My take on WoW, and other MMORPGs

First, I apologize in advance, this is a rant, and a very opinionated one at that.

Second, let me say that I hate WoW.. Next, let me say that I play WoW all the time. I have been searching--almost desperately--for a game to pull WoW down from it's high horse, smack it around like a cheap whore and leave it laying in a pool of blood and feces. So far, all I have seen are a bunch of posers who are trying to copy an inherently flawed game.

Bad Stuff

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1.) No hostile creature collision detection. Never before have I played a game where you can pass through a hostile creature, more so, doing this benefits you as players cannot dodge, block, or parry when struck from behind. So, PvP consists of a bunch of lumbering apes wearing the heaviest or plates, or clumsiest of cloths dancing around like monkeys trying to get to the back side..

2.) You weaken as you level up. Ever noticed how your base benefits from attributes scales down as you level up? WoW forces you to constantly upgrade your gear (or collect new pokemon as I like to call it), just to maintain the strength you had the previous level. Regen rates, critical strike chance, dodge, everything scales down as you level up. A friend in game summed this up nicely, "Someone at WoW thinks they are smarter than they really are, creating <new math>"

3.) Diversity please? Whether it be your talent tree, your ability scores, your items, your skills, or your damage types. There is not much diversity in WoW, you will always be pretty much the same as anyone else of your class, you'll prefer the same gear, you'll have nearly the same stats. Some call this a blessing, others call it a curse, I'm with the latter. No one really starts off truly understanding these things, but once you learn it, it adds a whole new level of character concept and background that you will never achieve with WoW's system.

4.) Broken Character concepts. Priests dispel magic, while Mages cure curses... wtf? Many little things like this seem to be found scattered about the character classes in WoW. Someone take the alcohol away from the dev team, they've lost drinking privileges.

I could go on and on really, but I'll stop here. Warhammer, AoC, <insert cookie cutter mmorpg name here> all copy these very flawed aspects. Few have copied some or any of the good aspects of WoW, which I list below.

Good Stuff

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1.) Social Aspect. Others have mentioned the social aspect, I love this part, my wife plays, my boss plays, my friends play, what am I to do? As far as the interface goes, it can and has been improved (by mod'ers). Its a fairly standard interface, but much more populated than most games now-a-days. This part of the game is a reward for other parts of the game that were done exceptionally.

2.) Environment. Most areas of this game are absolutely beautiful. I am stunned at points to see the rich use of colors, rolling mountains, gracefully structured yet non repetitive plant life. These are qualities you cannot achieve simply by upgrading the graphics engine. The devs truly have an eye for art, each zone is like a beautiful painting. Love the artwork.

3.) Compatibility. Once again, others have mentioned this. It runs on just about anything. It does it pretty damned well. Runnable in Linux, Windows, and Mac.. via DirectX or OpenGL, it doesn't matter--it runs. Getting it running on Linux can be a little tricky sometimes, usually sound problems, but its pretty easy overall thanks to wine.

4.) Details! I have never seen another game pay so much attention to the details throughout the world. I'm not talking about detailed textures, I'm talking about building placement, critters running about the land, little scorches on the ground here and there. That sort of thing really pulls at your mind.

*sigh* The things that they (other MMORPGS) have created themselves, new classes, races etc, are nice, but nothing to leave WoW(and consequently your friends) for.

Video games are a large part of the social life of many people. There is nothing wrong with it, and there are certainly more awkward ways to pass time with others *cough*church*cough*. I still go to the mall, see movies, go to the zoo, work full-time, etc. like many others... Most of the time though, I'll be sitting in front of my computer, WoW open, with tears in my eyes, hoping a better game comes out that will still connect me with all of my friends and family.

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