Monday, November 05, 2007
Spoilt rotten by World of Warcraft?
I've been looking through many MMORPG blogs recently, and I get the impression that quite a number of bloggers, me included, are in a gaming slump. Many stopped playing WoW, and are now jumping in and out of various games. But they rarely stick to one game, and some even went back to World of Warcraft. The deluge of bad news and postponements of the next wave of games has deflated much of the hype that surrounded them earlier. Of course it is hard to say how many people are affected by this gaming slump, but even on this blog (borrowing a measurement technique from = # # =) a post about Gilmore Girls gets far more comments than the latest news from Warhammer Online. Have we all been spoilt rotten by World of Warcraft and are now unable to have the same enthusiasm for other games?
World of Warcraft is an excellent game, with thousands of hours of content, and an unprecedented level of execution and polish. And for many people WoW was their first MMORPG, and that usually leaves an even rosier impression in people's memories. Nevertheless a huge amount of content isn't the same as endless content, and after 3 years many players are getting a bit bored of WoW. But there is nothing better on the market. WoW already borrowed heavily from previous games like Everquest, and the gameplay of most post-WoW games is even less innovative. New ideas seem to be limited to "lets make MMORPGs more twitchy" and "lets add more PvP", but neither of these ideas has lead to any truely outstanding new games. And while some games, like Lord of the Rings Online, are quite decent, they are neither radically different nor as polished as World of Warcraft, so people who try them after WoW burn out quickly.
Many, many blog posts ask whether World of Warcraft can be beaten, and what the next big game will be. Do we have to wait for the next Blizzard MMORPG, which will presumably be World of Starcraft? And will World of Starcraft actually be innovative and better than WoW? Blizzard has a great track record of taking existing game concepts and polishing them to perfection, but they are neither the most innovative nor the fastest game company.
My prediction is that we are looking at at least one more year in which the the MMORPG market and blogosphere is becoming increasingly splintered. People will play more different games, but for shorter periods of time. Some games will be more niche, some a bit more mass market, but even Warhammer Online will not be successful enough to get us back into the previous situation of one game so heavily dominating the discussion. And maybe that isn't such a bad thing.