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?