Tobold's Blog
Monday, March 30, 2009
Can there be other games after WoW?

The open Sunday thread was dominated by a discussion on whether future MMORPGs could get over a million subscribers in a market dominated by WoW. Mark asked: "When the Knights of the Old Republic Star Wars MMO launches, chances are it will sell a million plus copies in the first couple of weeks. What will it take for BioWare and EA to hang onto 75% of those customers beyond the free month? This is another way of saying, can anyone compete with Blizzard, or does competing with Blizzard mean your realistic goal is sub 500,000 subscription numbers?" Well, change the names and the numbers, and you'll have exactly the same discussion there was in 2003, where several games had tried and failed to surpass the success of Everquest. We all know what happened next. I can't say whether it will be SWTOR that will be the next big thing after WoW, but I *do* know that there will be a next big thing one day. There is no way for World of Warcraft to still be the dominant MMORPG in the US/Euro market in 2015.

The general pessimism on the future of MMORPGs comes from various factors, most of which are due to a lack of imagination on the part of those who do the discussion. Most bloggers and people discussing on game forums, and I'm not excluding myself here, suffer from the illusion that the ideal MMORPG is the one that caters to their particular preferences. But experience shows that people spending time reading and writing blogs and forum posts are already more "hardcore" than the average customer in the total MMORPG market. Developers who design games following what the fans tell them they want are unlikely to produce anything more than a niche game. So while the blogosphere is full of buzz around the release of Darkfall, the game more likely to reach over a million players by the end of the year is Free Realms.

The other misconception among MMO bloggers is that World of Warcraft was an accident, a stroke of luck. But if you look at Blizzard's total portfolio of games, you'll notice that quite a large number of them were more successful than the competition in their respective genres. Blizzard isn't simply lucky, they *make* their own luck. And they do that through excellence of production, often taking existing ideas and making a game out them with superior quality and attention to detail. Or as Samus commented yesterday:
Let's say I have my favorite sandwich shop. They didn't start out nearly as good as they are now, but they've had a lot of business in the last 4 years that they've been open, which has allowed them the time and resources to develop a lot of great sandwiches. But as is the nature of things, I grow tired of them. It's not that I stop thinking they're the best sandwich shop in town, there's just only so long you can eat the same sandwiches before you want to try something else.

So I decide to try one of the new sandwich shops in town. The first thing I notice is that the fries that come with the sandwich are terrible. When I say something, the other customers throw food at me and scream about how you come here for sandwiches not fries because it's a sandwich shop can't you read the sign what kind of illiterate retard are you...and so on and so forth. Fair enough, but I also notice that the bread is stale, whereas my old sandwich shop baked their own bread fresh. That suggestion nearly starts a riot, because if I wanted fresh bread, I should go to my old sandwich shop. Apparently, the owner knows my old sandwich shop bakes their own bread, so he is deliberately buying day old bread because he wants to be different.

So I try another sandwich shop. This sandwich shop is clearly trying to copy my old sandwich shop. Every sandwich is just a clone of one from my old shop...only not as good. Nothing about this new sandwich shop is any different or better than my old shop, except they haven't spent 4 years perfecting their sandwiches.

Perhaps the more important thing is the menu size. My old shop had lots of sandwiches, but all of these new sandwich shops have only 2-3 sandwiches. It doesn't matter how good those sandwiches are, I'm going to grow tired of them pretty fast.
Now this is the point where things are starting to look promising for Bioware. Because Bioware is another of the few companies known for quality games. Given enough time and resources it is totally possible that they can produce a quality sandwich, err, game.

The last point to address is the misconception that World of Warcraft is a black hole due to social interaction. Everybody plays WoW, so everybody has friends playing WoW, so people can't leave WoW because their friends are all in WoW? I don't think so! If anything, social interaction is one of the weak points of World of Warcraft. No other game has so much soloing, so much guild hopping, so little loyalty between "friends" and guild mates. Guilds draw together when there is new content to beat, but quickly fall apart once the content is beaten. Blizzard completely failed to introduce any purpose to guilds beyond raids. And as new raid content is being added at a relatively slow pace, there are large stretches of time in which WoW is vulnerable to large numbers of people being bored and leaving WoW to check out a new game. If that new game would be any good, and had better social cohesion, the social "pull" would be more likely to draw players out of WoW than back in.

It is easy to find various insulting descriptions for the average World of Warcraft player, from n00b to tourist. But all of these insults come from people who prefer games which require a lot of time and dedication, having features like non-consentual PvP or events which require people to keep playing in blocks of several hours. Of course people who like that sort of gameplay think that games that have this sort of features are "better", and can't understand that this is not what the majority of customers in the MMORPG market want. So they come up with all sorts of crazy explanations why those "WoW tourists" aren't sticking to their favorite "better" game, but go back to World of Warcraft instead. But the simple truth is that these people will stick to a new game one day, provided that new game has a similar quality level and is suited more to the needs of the average player. You can't at the same time criticize World of Warcraft for not being perfect, and then assume that nobody will ever be able to make anything better. WoW is good, and some of the competitors simply failed to match the level of quality, but WoW is still far from perfect, and it is getting old. Every year lowers the hold that WoW has on the market, because Blizzard can't produce content fast enough to keep everyone busy. And sooner or later a better game will come get millions of players.
I prefer to compare people that still like WoW to guys who exclusively eat their favorite McDonalds product. I like burgers, too, but I actually want something more. Not a bus tour from cruise director Tigole, TYVM.

The sad thing is, I have little hope to play and love another MMO in 2009. Neither Aion nor Champions Online appeal to me at all, and I see little alternatives in the near future.
"There is no way for World of Warcraft to still be the dominant MMORPG in the US/Euro market in 2015."

I beg to differ. Where can I bet on that, I'm bound to make money! Well I guess I could buy EA stock but they're doing something else as well.

WoW has _so many_ subscribers_, it's unbelievable. And all of the new games that try to tap into WoW market have been so much worse than WoW, that I'm starting to lose faith that anyone else has the patience and money to polish their game enough to be competition for WoW. If it took WoW 4 years to get these numbers and a new great, super MMO was published now, it'd take it until 2013 to get the same numbers. Sure, there's a lot bigger market now to tap into compared to when WoW started, but the casual masses won't switch games that easy, I think. So yeah, I think WoW will still be the biggest MMO in USA/Europe in 2015.
I disagree with you on your last point, Tobold: I do think that People keep playing WoW because of social interaction. However, these people do not stick to the game because of their guilds or friends-lists but because of their real life friends.

While WoW certainly does not encourage players to get to know each other very well there are quite some groups of friends who joined the game simultaneously or players who brought their friends to the game. Those players want to play together so a new game has to convince a majority of them to keep playing. This creates a barrier every MMO has to overcome.

These social groups exist in every multiplayer game. A MMO with good mechanics for social interaction will encourage people to make long-term friends in game thus increasing the number of social ties to the game. But the basic principle applies even to games with poor social features such as WoW.
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If only WoW was static... but try leveling a character from 1 to 80 and see how gameplay mechanics, graphics and just about everything else evolves as you go along. People tend to regard WoW as a 4 year old game, when in fact what they're going up against is essentialy a 2008 product, with WOTLK released. Sure, there are moans about slow updates, but each new large patch brings a lot of changes, fixes and new additions to the game itself. WoW is a fast moving target.

I think that Star Wars will take a few people from WoW, mostly due to the fact that it won;t be a medieval fantasy title. Developers are learning this I think - just yesterday I looked through upcoming MMO's and there are some great things planned - steampunk, futuristic, surreal... fantasy though is and will be WoW territory.
Well, my hat of if Blizzard doesn't have a new MMORPG by 2015. WoW2 or something entirely different. Not like they're sitting still while their competition creates games. Besides that game, I am looking forward to the Bioware mmorpg and only that game. Story driven mmorpg by some of the best rpg makers on the market? Jummie.

And yes, we're in one of those times right now. Naxxramas on farm for a month, no new content. People trying other games... Only to come back when Ulduar is released. But one day, during that downtime, I hope to discover a great new mmorpg! If it's good enough, guildies will follow.

Interesting idea on guilds. I see my guild mostly as a vehicle to conquer raid content too. How could one improve that? Guild efforts to create a keep? Guild PvP to conquer/defend it? Guild quests?
That sandwich thing is ridiculous. The analogies people try to make about this sort of thing are about as useful and unbiased as everyone screaming obscenities at each other, but they're worse because they're trying to masquerade as actual discourse. Any assumption that "different from WoW = better" is invalid, as is any assumption that "different from WoW = worse." It just doesn't work like that people.

It's obvious that there will be a bigger MMO than WoW, if only for the fact that the world population and internet install base is growing. More gamers are born every year, and more non-gamers die every year. What will be the first huge MMO in Africa? How far into the future will that be?

Of COURSE there will be a game that does better than WoW. The question is, will someone manage to get their shit together and make that game before Blizzard does it with a second game of their own?

Free Realms is going to do very very well.

My friend Steve, still playing WoW, just told me again why he is still playing WoW.

The reason is not very complicated: All the other MMOs could not suck him in as much, and many singleplayer games did not really entertain him either.

I somehow have to agree, I only love Mount & Blade right now. Sins of a Solar Empire is quite good, but not outstanding, and Empire: Total War and Company of Heroes... I wonder what is wrong with me, I just do not love these games. :(

One hint for bored MMO players: I absolutely ADORED King's Bounty the first time I was playing through, which takes some time - I will buy the expansion the moment it hits the shelves! :)

I think you need to differentiate between the two aspects of the "social network" that you seemingly devalue in your post. You have the social network as it exists in the game, and you have the social network that exists 'outside' of the game. Which do you think is more powerful? My money is on the social network that exists outside the game. Why?

Well, in practice, developers know that gamers are a loyal bunch, and they tend to know each other on a much more personal level than in the social networks built 'inside the game'. WoW's success has been built on this interaction...word of mouth, ect., and gamers go where other gamers go...if just to try something out. As you indicate in your post, WoW benefitted from Blizzards past successes and high production values, and the already established lore from the Warcraft/2/3 series bolstered this as well. There was a HUGE core of gamers from the Warcraft/Diablo community who were salivating while awaiting the release of WoW, and they made a huge impact on the initial "social network" that quickly built around WoW's release. There were also quite a few Everquest players who came over as well, bringing with them an already well established 'social network' in its own right.

While anecdotal at best, the top raiding guild on my WoW server was formed directly from acquaintances and associations that existed in Everquest. When 3/4 of a top tiered raiding guild is formed from a pre-existing social network, that exists outside of the game being currently played(WoW in this case), I would call that the more important social aspect than the one that occurs 'in game'. Sure, players may guild hop and whatnot in a game such as WoW, but that is a direct result of the reward(loot) mechanic that WoW chose to employ, not due to a 'lack' of guild management features.

I loathe the term "WoW Tourist". I view it as a slap in the face to those gamers who made WoW their very first MMO. The blogoshpere has no right casting such a wide net around those who: 1. Decided to give WoW a try because one of their friends suggested it. 2. Were amazed at the level of polish and relatively bug free experience at launch. 3. Loved that they could group with other people, or solo content depending upon their moods and tastes.

I came over from the First Person Shooter community due to my aging reflexes where the 'twitch' factor is concerned. WoW was my first MMO, and I love it based solely on the enjoyment factor that I've had over the last 4+ years now. That enjoyment factor has been heavily influenced by the quality of the game, the amount of content provided at launch, and the lack of any real server downtime, which is something that I think that a LOT of bloggers overlook when considering the success of WoW....the lack of any real server downtime over the past 4+ years has been a huge factor in maintaining player loyalty, and it stands to reason that this would affect word of mouth referrals as well.
To be fair, your view on guilds in WoW is exactly that, your view.

I know plenty of people, who if they werent in guilds with friends, etc - simply wouldnt be playing. To Say Social interaction in WoW is a black hole is wrong. To say its limited is true, but we all know humanity has wonderful ways of making even the most limited things mean everything.
WoW did have a huge advantage when it started - there were a lot of gamers who liked the idea of an MMO, but weren't attracted by what they'd heard of Everquest. I was one of them - I'd been waiting for a massively multiplayer fantasy world for a long time, and when WoW arrived, I leaped into it with lots of glad shouting.

My feeling is that the next big thing has to be fundementally different. Wheras many genres have new games coming out in them just because users play through a game, finish it, and want more, an MMO doesn't have inbuilt obselescence. How many new FPS games would there have been if Half-Life had enough gameplay to sustain 20 hours of play a week for 5 years, and the graphics kept improving every year or so, and the developers kept adding new gameplay innovations?

What we should be looking for is the thing that would make WoW players abandon the game en masse, or something that will appeal to an entirely new audience. A totally new genre, something that's fundementally different in an important way just like WoW was fundementally different to a single-player RPG. THAT's the next big thing.

My bet? Keep a close eye on the successors to and derivatives of Dwarf Fortress.
I think the new products need a strategy for taking market share. WAR's seems to have been "we'll launch when we feel like it and win because we're better" which with hindsight was stupid. If War launched now a lot of the players who tried it would never go back to WoW as WoW has moved on from "omg new stuff" phase to "bored bored bored" phase.

Blizzard very clearly have strategies for competing with their rivals. Jeff Kaplan mentions in the cruise director interview that they looked at EQ's 1200 quests and decided they would have to launch with at least 600 to rival that. WoW launched with an option to set an EQ-style UI so people wouldn't go back to EQ because of UI frustrations. A brilliant idea which no one has since copied as far as I can remember. (Possibly Lotr did something like this too, been a while since I played it).

Blizzard actively try to spoil their competitors. When AoC launched they had a publicity blaze about all the new and exciting things in their expansion. When War launched LK beta was in full swing and a great deal of enthusiasm was about and fluffy promises were made.

Another thing Blizzard do far far better than anyone else is steal/borrow other people's ideas. WoW took a lot from EQ including top players like Furor and Tigole for their design team. They have an amateur community of unpaid programmers writing code for them in the form of the addon community from which they cherry-pick the best bits after it has been play-tested at zero risk to them. They cannibalise as many innovative ideas from other games as they can: voice comms titles and achievements from Lotr, queue anywhere bgs from War and many many more. I am expecting PQs from War to be ripped off next WoW expansion and done a lot better than War did it.

To beat WoW you need to launch your product in a window where most WoW players are bored, it needs to be playable without frustrations and the underlying gameplay needs to be solid. You also need to get out of your ivory tower and get your designer's hands dirty with other people's ideas. You can't ignore ideas that would make your game better simply because someone else thought of it first.

But what if Blizzard sue you for ripping off their ideas?

Legally I think there's very little IP protection for game features and even if there were would Blizzard really want to establish a legal precedent suing you which would allow a thousand addon makers plus Sony Funcom etc to sue them.
WoW is the new Star Trek. Star Trek transcends scifi fans. Grandma's and grandpa's who think 99% of science fiction is stupid know "Beam me up Scotty!" WoW is not just an mmo game, it is a cultural thing. Battlestar Galactica is a great show, but it will never be what Star Trek is, simply because Star Trek was the right show at the right time to spark a cultural phenomena. WoW I think is on the same path. No mmo type game will be WoW, because its not just a game anymore.
" Of course people who like that sort of gameplay think that games that have this sort of features are "better", and can't understand that this is not what the majority of customers in the MMORPG market want."

But then those same people will argue that the majority are not MMORPG players =P that they are the "original" mmorpg players betrayed by these big corporations ...

Truth is out of those 12 million subscriber not all of them will have enough time to give the same time/effort they put in WoW especially if it doesn't grab them during the free month. This is usually the case for players whose first MMORPG is WOW.
I have said it before, and will say it again. 1 Million is the "sweet" spot where an MMO leaves the "niche" and by leaving that "niche", it could have the potential to be a BIG hit.
But, as we have seen, every game from last year alone...300k scrips and no more.
People expect too much.
They want WoW quality from day 1, and if it does not meet that perception, then it is deemed a failure. Even though WAR has 300k scrips, it is still deemed a failure. LOTRO has no more than 300k, and had the potential to be a hit. But, it copies WoW too much and the quality is mediocre, thus has no potential to move any higher in the subscriber realm.
If either of these would have gotten a million players, then this would not be the case.
SWTOR or Guild Wars 2 are the only ones on the radar who have the potential to reach a larger audience and MAYBE be the game to pull players from WoW.

Of course, that is when Blizzard will release it's next MMO, and we can live the cycle all over again.

MMO's as a viable market just sucks.
If Bioware made an MMO I would play. Something like Fallout Online would be AWESOME!
It is unlikely that all your friends are in your guild and the friends of everyone are in your guild and so on. Otherwise, there would be only one guild.

Because you don't need your guild for most in WoW, you can actually play together with the people you like. Not with the people who are in your guild. So, yeah, a lot of "solo content" increases the social interaction and your social network. Me thinks.
to be blunt, wow is just Diablo 3D
I agree with Stabs, i think an MMO can make a maximum impact by releasing at a point when WoW subscribers have lost interest. I say WoW subcribers as they are the largest MMO base of players.

AoC did it, it may have bombed but we saw lots of players flock to it in the early days. WaR released before Wrath did well and while a lot of people played both games because of their appeal (conan/Warhammer worlds) i would assume there were quite a few WoW players wanting to try something different.

The KotoR Star Wars MMO is touted as the new WoW Slayer - seriously we did see a Star Wars MMO and it didn;t do so well. I hope Bioware will get it right and i can see it doing well with EA marketing behind it and maybe joint MMO pass (monthly subscriptions to WaR and KotoR)
I pretty much agree with Stabs. However AoC and WAR did release at WoW's biggest lull prior to now. The problem was that those two games were not ready. I know they had finicial issues but if they both waited until now to release I think they would have done much better.

Last night I was playing WAR and ended up logging off in frustration. The game just doesn't work smoothly. It frustrates me because when the game does work it's fun. If WAR or AoC had quality behind them when they launched I would have never gone back to WoW. Right now I'm very close to buying Darkfall.
I think the one thing people don't imagine happening is the entire MMO market shrinking. I'm thinking that when the masses of WoW players get so bored they simply can't play it anymore, they will just stop playing MMOs altogether.

A lot of WoW players are new to MMOs. With WoW being their first MMO, many of them are going to have the expectations that every other MMO will be as polished as WoW, with the same accessibility. Sadly, almost no MMO is polished upon release. LotRO is about the only one I've seen that's been relatively bug free on launch. Since many MMOs don't cater to the WoW style of play (or if they do, they do it poorly at best), many of these bored WoW players simply won't find an MMO that will keep them.

What are they going to do? Play 1 month or less of every MMO out there? There's not enough decent MMOs to even keep them playing for 6 months at that rate. So they'll probably just give up MMOs altogether. This could be especially true since many of them aren't aware there are a lot of other MMOs out there. All they know is WoW.

Now some of you might think I'm a bit foolish to think that they'll all just stop playing MMOs entirely. Well, just from the people I know personally, almost every single one of them who played WoW, haven't played any MMOs since then. Most of them don't even know there's other ones out there. The only ones who still play MMOs are ones who had played MMOs before WoW.

Really, I think the only thing that will keep many of the WoW players in the MMO market is another Blizzard MMO. And with the way Blizzard works, that will probably come out in what? 2015?

And SW:TOR is just going to be KOTOR online. You can tell by the gameplay videos and the way the Devs talk about it in the videos. They talk about how /you/ are the hero, you have this epic quest, etc. But they never talk about what people do in groups. How the shared gamespace is. If there is an open world to explore. I'm betting that TOR is basically like GW, with shared towns where you go on instanced missions. GW can pull this off though, cause they have a good PvP system, and /no monthly fee/. If Bioware thinks people are going to want to pay for what is essentially a MP version of KOTOR, they are sadly mistaken.

About the only thing that will set TOR apart from GW is that the HeroEngine, a 3rd party engine which Bioware is using, allows for seamless worlds. It's still going to be instanced though. How can I have the epic story centred around me, if some jerk-a-hole comes and ninja kills the boss I'm fighting?

Actually, TOR might even be like CoH in the missions. The person who has the mission is the main character, so the villain addresses them, the bits of narration are about them, etc. All the teammates are like sidekicks. It doesn't matter if they are there. Then once you're done your mission, you get to be your buddy's sidekick for his version of the exact same mission. Sounds plausible, no?

And sorry for derailing into a TOR rant.
"And sooner or later a better game will come get millions of players"

And I'm betting Blizzard will be the makers of that game. The fact that they've been working on another MMO for at LEAST a year now means that they are a few steps ahead of the competition. And the competition is trying to beat WoW, NOT whatever Blizzard pulls out next.

"I'm thinking that when the masses of WoW players get so bored they simply can't play it anymore, they will just stop playing MMOs altogether."

And this is me in a nutshell. Picked up WoW on release because the open beta was cool and Blizzard was the designer. NONE of the other MMOs have looked remotely interesting. LotRO looked acceptable because of the lore it was built on. Everything else was just more WoW with different graphics. Companies will have to get away from the fantasy market to even interest me beyond the "hey another one was announced" stage.
First, let me say that I don’t think the scope of this discussion includes games like what Raph is working on, the Facebook social networking games, etc. I think the kind of game we are interested in is the traditional fee-based MMO with a lot of developer-produced content, etc.

I really don’t see a game doing to WoW what WoW did to EverQuest. WoW is nearly 30 times the size of EQ at its height. What I’m wondering is if a $15/month MMO can even get one million subscribers in the current market? It seems difficult.

I mean, Warhammer is a game that is sound in most ways. Decent artwork, lots of classes, lots of different ways to level, stuffed full of quests, lots of battlegrounds, etc. You can quibble about it, say this aspect of it sucks, etc., but it doesn’t do poorly compared to WoW in terms of features. It’s most glaring omission is that it doesn’t have raid dungeons. It does have the open RvR though.

So why it might be foolish to expect Warhammer to have two million subs, it’s surprising that it has lost as many players as it has – probably one million have unsubscribed. I know that Scott Jennings thought it might get 1.5M subscribers. You might think that bored WoW players would be happy to play Warhammer even if they didn’t consider it as good as WoW. Instead, it looks like Warhammer is basically running on Dark Age of Camelot numbers, slightly inflated.

It’s a bit of a mystery to me. Maybe the answer is as simple as some have suggested. You need to release a game that’s as good as or better than WoW, or else you are relegated to the sidelines. If that’s the case, the question becomes: who can do this? Blizzard can, with their next MMO. Can anyone else? Maybe EA BioWare can. They really need to be on their game and be sharp, though.
"So why it might be foolish to expect Warhammer to have two million subs, it’s surprising that it has lost as many players as it has – probably one million have unsubscribed."
I don't really put that down to the quality of the game being particularly low. It's just not quite as high as WOTLK and they launched too close, so people just went back to WOW when new content came out. If they'd launched now, when people are starting to get bored with Northrend and the next expansion is a long way off, they might have done a lot better.

Timing is critical to product launches. You can get away with being "not quite as good as WOW" if you're better than "levelling another alt through the content I just finished".
"Timing is critical to product launches. You can get away with being "not quite as good as WOW" if you're better than "levelling another alt through the content I just finished"."

That’s an interesting point, but it’s impossible to plan that way. You never know for sure when Blizzard will release – they tend to slip dates – and you never know for sure when players will be bored of WoW because you don’t really know how much content is in WotLK. To further complicate that issue, Blizzard can patch in new content.

That said, if Mythic had been able to release Warhammer on schedule earlier in the year, they might have held onto subscribers longer. WoW players were probably more bored six months before the release of WotLK than they are now.

I’m not convinced that “not quite as good as WoW” works no matter what the timing. It’s more like you have to be “not quite as good as WoW, and also quite different” to really have a chance.

One of the things I’ve noticed about my own play is that I am much more quickly fatigued of an MMO, especially if it plays in a similar fashion to previous MMOs. You really have to do something special to keep my attention.

(I love PvP so I am giving Warhammer a shot, but I’m becoming disenchanted. Last night in T2 I got in a warband and all we did was trot from keep to BO to keep and take them undefended. It’s ridiculous. The majority of my PvP in Warhammer comes in the scenarios. I can get that in WoW’s battlegrounds. And Warhammer doesn’t have anything like Wintergrasp.)
I haven't read all the comments to this post, but I must say that your view on WoW as a "black hole" feels very strange. I am not sure what kind of guilds that you've been part of, but I'm still in contact with members of the first raiding guild I was in, even if it broke apart when TBC launched. Of course there is a lot of "guild hopping", but that's not very strange in a game as large as WoW.

I have many IRL-friends that I've played WoW with. I have met people through WoW who in turn became IRL-friends. They all still play WoW while I've moved on to other games. It is all of them that I miss, not the game itself - and I am hardly unique.

It feels like you spend a lot of time on the defensive. I have nothing against WoW, except for the parts which I feel let me down and caused me to stop playing. But I don't see the word "tourist" as an insult. I am just fascinated by how WoW affects the rest of the genre. Just stating over and over that a game would be able to retain the WoW tourists if it was better than WoW is a very simplistic view that doesn't really take a lot of different factors into account.

Here's my take on it, which I guess you are at least semi-referring to since you did comment on it -
The reason it's insulting is that a tourist is someone who goes to a country with no intention of staying beyond a very brief period.

If you think that half of the customers who upgraded their pcs, bought the box, gave credit card details to the makers of AoC and WAR did so simply to visit for two weeks we really do have no point in continuing the discussion.
/sigh, Stabs.

Of course not. Good point on why it would be insulting, but of course there are people that were let down by WAR/AoC in a very real way. I don't think anyone is denying that.
I do think there were people, me included, who fully expected to be back to WoW with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. But hey, I even bought a WAR collector's edition, so I forked over enough money to them to have the right to check out their game and leave afterwards. If the company doesn't want customers like me, they would just have to price the box at $200 and include a 1-year subscription.

Of course there were also people who were simply disappointed by WAR and AoC. And I don't blame them. In the case of AoC the beta was specifically designed to show only the good part of the game, pre level 20, and for many players the post-20 game was a severe disappointment. In the case of WAR the marketing hype machine was running on overdrive, promising the best game to everybody, instead of more realistically telling people of the limitations.
I agree with your comment about the social structures in WoW. I have spent more time out of guilds than in them. During the flux of guilds when Wrath came out I got left behind because I was not a 'player that people wanted to bring.' I'm 54 years old, disabled and cannot compete in new content as well as my younger more agile thinking guildmates. It was devastating and I have no longer any desire to go through that again.
I think everyone needs to get off the Wow Slayer quest there's not such thing. Now I don't say that because I love Wow in fact there are points when I get sick of it and need a break. Everyone is different different games will attract people that gravitate to that type of game. Some like the medieval stuff some like the more futuristic stuff. People who like Wows style play Wow. I use to play FF online my guild in that game some didn't like the Wow style so they don't play. I played AoC I thought it had a lot of potential just needed another year of development same as War. I'm a big Warcraft fan dating back to the RTS said to say Wow will stop one day. According to Wow lore the content is just not there for prolong domination of the market.
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