Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Despite NDA drop, Naysayers still clam Warhammer is a WoW clone

Surprisingly enough the dropping of Warhammer's NDA has not put an end to the WoW clone debate. I haven't yet to see anyone come right out and claim that Warhammer is a bad game, but some people seem to think it isn't innovative enough to interest them. It's funny since Public Quests and the Tome of Knowledge are being widely touted as great features that will probably be incorporated into a lot of future games. Yet somehow this isn't enough to distinguish Warhammer from Ever Quest, World of Warcraft, or any other DIKU based MMO. I'm not exactly a fan of Warhammer since I haven't played it yet, but it seems like some people are expecting the MMO genre to widely reinvent itself with every new game.

First Person Shooters have changed since the days of Doom, but you can still easily recognize any game in that genre. They all share common similarities which allow anyone who has played a FPS to quickly figure out the basic gameplay. If I buy a copy of Halo 4 in the future I'm not going to get a game where I spend a majority of my time building futuristic cities from a top-down perspective. Sure it would introduce a degree of innovation to the series, but I'm pretty sure fans of the earlier games wouldn't like it. The other video game genres tend to be the same way, from real time strategy games to adventure platformers. So why do some people expect MMOs to radically morph themselves every game?

I think the main problem is that some people play MMOs long after they stopped having fun in them. Whether this is because of friendships in the game or addiction is a matter best left up to experts. Whatever the reason you eventually get some pretty resentful players as they break out of love-hate relationships with MMOs. At the moment DIKU based MMOs are the most popular and it's only logical that they are the main target of this resentment. This why most of the people who claim all MMOs are like WoW are usually older and have a lot of experience with MMOs. They have probably found themselves tied to games they have found un-fun multiple times over the years. God have mercy on their souls if they raided and played a tank or a healer.

In all honesty this could probably be fixed if it was easier for players to try out different MMOs without being charged an arm and a leg. This way players could still be in the game all their friends are playing and also try out something new every once and awhile. Some people see micro-transactions as a way to make this happen and that's why so many people are excited about Free Realms, though I also don't discount SOE mind control. However, there are a lot of problems with micro-transactions, which I won't go into at the moment. Suffice to say a lot of players are never going to be comfortable with that payment model and suspect it might lead to bad game design.

Instead I see the payment model used by games like Runescape and Dofus becoming more popular. These games operate by having a portion of their game free2play, but charge a subscription if you want all the content. SOE has tried a similar approach with their "Play the Fae" offer, but they limited it to only one zone and it came with a time limit. Most games which use a tiered subscription model make sure to put a lot more content in the free2play part of the game then any big name studio is comfortable with. It smart business though since the free2play playerbase actually helps keep the critical mass of the game high so that more people are interested about the game.


Openedge1 said...

Think about it
If we pay monthly, we feel almost "forced" to play, as otherwise we may not get our moneys worth.

I feel that way sometimes.

Yet, here is Guild Wars, that I played more in the last two months than I played EQ2 overall for almost 8 months. And it is free!
A game should be fun, and not work, and maybe that has finally weened me off the MMO standards.
I see Runes of Magic coming soon, a free WoW clone (with anime influence) or DDO and their upgrade coming soon, which has a cheaper entry rate with the discounted monthly fee (if you buy 3 months) and is unique enough to not feel the same (like LOTRO, which is just a boring mess to me).
Why pay for the same thing we have had all along with some new bells and whistles?

Ya, I think Age of Conan really put the nail in the coffin. After years of WoW, EQ2, AoC, and so many in between (LOTRO, Vanguard)
I think the way of the MMO is out, and new methods need to be found to interest people.
(PS: Having new features in a game that resembles WoW in so many ways, does not help it sell itself in my book)

Anonymous said...

You have to realize that a lot of the naysayers have other motivations. For the most part, if you read further into their other postings, they are devoted fanboys of some other product or company, such as SOE or WoW. For months they have been hearing that a lot of customers are going to leave the product the love for WAR, so they have it in for WAR big time.

In a game like WoW, where it's already hard as heck to find a competent group and even harder to find a competent raid group, and half the battlegrounds are afk, hearing that even more good players are going to leave for WAR is demoralizing and really pisses people who love WoW off. They are being told their future game experience in WoW is going to be even further compromised and more frustrating. Hence their endless blog rants about WAR.

Yes, WAR will pull some players from every existing decent player in the marketplace (LoTRO, WoW) and especially the not so decent ones (AoC, and others). It will profoundly affect Blizzard's Western account numbers, and most certainly change the way the end game is handled in WoW.

People will quit WoW, play WAR. Lich King will come out, and a bunch of the WAR players will reactivate WoW to level to 80. But they will NOT go back into the horrid rep and raid grinds again. They'll cancel WoW and go back to PvPing in WAR until there's more fun, less grindy content to do in WoW.

Relmstein said...

Hmmm, I'm not so sure most people want something that different from WoW. I'm going to try Wakfu, Wizard101, and Free Realms as they come out, but most people I talk to don't seem interested in these games. This is based mostly on the opinions of friends and people
already established in a traditional MMOs though.

I do agree that the traditional subscription model needs a kick in the ass though. The only problem is no one has been able to make a quality MMO without using subscriptions to pay for it.

Guild Wars was definitely the most successful MMO that used a different payment model. But so many people bad mounthed it because of its reliance on instancing. I think Guild Wars 2 will make an even bigger splash since it will use the same payment model but have more traditional MMO elements from what I hear.

Anonymous said...

You will enjoy Wizard 101. I have been beta testing it with my child for several months, and it is an exceedingly well done game. To be completely honest, it is far more ready for release than Warhammer is, though the developer has announced no release date. I think their big remaining sticking point is how to price an MMO project for children, trying to figure out whether parents will fork over a credit card for a monthly for a 10 year old, or tolerate microtransactions for a kid. I've answered parental surveys for them on the subject.

But yes, to some degree I agree with you that people do not want something fundamentally different from WoW, in this way: people like fantasy MMOs. They like swinging swords and using magic. I would argue that the lack of a credible magic system is one of the biggest reasons Turbine has not done even better with LoTRO.

I do think a lot of people, though, are tired of WoW beyond the fundamentals. The end game is simply far too grindy. New content has been too few and far between. And nearly all of WoW's faults are the result of them not having any significant challengers for 3 years; they have been pretty complacent, and have not reinvested nearly enough of their profits into improving the game. Instead they are using it to fund expansion into new markets, and a future MMO.

Warhammer is a fantasy IP, and in that respect I suppose one can claim that it is a clone of every fantasy MMO that came before it. But the game plays differently than WoW, and at this point I just don't see a future that involves 25 people AFK in a scenario while the other 25 try to win it.

Nothing's a WoW killer. WAR will probably steal away a sizeable chunk of WoW's North American and Western European market. Blizzard will make up for those losses with gains in Asia and Eastern Europe (their latest market entry is Russia). Blizzard's numbers probably are not going to drop for a long time, as long as they can keep finding new markets to replace the older ones who move on.

Anonymous said...

openedge stop being a GW fanboi and attacking other MMORPG

Openedge1 said...


Oh boy...looks like I have a stalker.
Why not come to MY blog and say what you need to say.

If you read my blog, I have enjoyed many other MMO's, but hey, right now, the MMO is becoming like the DoDo bird.
The current MMO style will become extinct.
Just wait and see.

Anyways, glad to see I have a fan.