Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
 
Blizzard and McDonalds

While I just shot off a first thought yesterday, I think Wolfshead's well written, but utterly illogic rant on how World of Warcraft is a disease which ruins the MMORPG genre deserves a longer rebuttal. To do that, I'm going to start by assuming that what he says is right, and using a stereotype comparison beloved by all WoW bashers: McDonalds.

What Wolfshead says is that over 5 years ago this big McDonalds opened up in his town. It was a huge success, and the McDonalds has been packed every day every since. He himself ate there for years, until he didn't like burgers and fries any more. Now he is looking around for a nice French restaurant offering Filet Mignon, and finds all the other restaurants are also just offering burgers and fries, only the other restaurants are smaller, less well lit, less clean, and there are some cockroaches scurrying around. Now he is blaming McDonalds, who made very little innovation in the last years, just offering occasionally slightly different burgers, for the decline of the restaurant industry in his town. He says McDonalds strived to make their burgers "addictive", refused to offer radically different stuff like Sushi, and is destroying the social connections people used to have while sitting around a table waiting for the food to arrive by offering fast service at their counter.

Now look at the same situation from the point of view of the McDonalds: They spent over 5 years listening to what their customers said they wanted, and giving it to them. They keep their restaurant clean and free of cockroaches. They sped up their service, because that was what the customers asked for. They stick to the kind of food they are good at making. And of course they are trying to make burgers that taste good, in an iterative process of continues stepwise improvement, that has absolutely nothing to do with "addiction". So when Wolfshead comes and blames McDonald for his woes, McDonalds will simply reply that they are doing their best to cater to their customers and market. And they are not at all responsible for the state of cleanliness or the menu of the other restaurants. They aren't doing anything, nor *could* they do anything, to prevent a good restaurant opening up and offering Sushi or Filet Mignon.

And while World of Warcraft in reality isn't quite as "junk food" as its distractors say, that changes nothing in that the same argument is true for them: They don't stop, nor could they possibly stop, another company from making a better game. They simply found out what a large number of customers wanted, and gave that to them. They don't even try to radically change that, because changing their game radically would be downright stupid. Remember Star Wars Galaxies and their radical change with the NGE? Instead Blizzard is going along a path of iterative improvement to the product they have. That product is far from perfect, and it only covers a part of what people could possibly want from a MMORPG. But if anything we should applaud Blizzard for sticking to that small part, and trying to improve it. Wolfshead is blaming them for "fooling us with Holywood polish", but what exactly is wrong with making a game polished? Sticking to a part of the MMORPG space and improving it iteratively is bound to create something which is polished to the finest detail. And that is what you'd be reading in any book giving management advice to companies: Stick to your core competencies, and rather further improve that at which you are already good at, instead of recklessly expanding into areas that you don't understand.

Last week I started writing about what the perfect MMORPG would be for me, and that perfect MMORPG would be in many ways different from World of Warcraft. But whenever I mentioned that I would want a MMORPG in which decisions are interesting, and people would need to think more instead of just mashing buttons, the inevitable reply came that "this would be a niche game, people don't want to think". While I don't believe that is true, it points us towards the real culprits here: A lack of imagination and enterprise, in part from the players, but more importantly from the other game companies.

Again: Nobody prevents another game company to make a game that is better than World of Warcraft. And in fact there are a number of small games which in spite of low budgets stuck to what they are good at, and didn't try to clone WoW. Games like Puzzle Pirates or A Tale in the Desert are highly enjoyable, and offer a lot of what people are saying is missing in WoW. The one announcement of the Guild Wars 2 dynamic event system has more innovation in it than one year of press releases about Star Wars: The Old Republic. So I would agree with Chris from Game by Night, that if the industry is stagnant, don't blame Blizzard for it, but rather blame companies like EA Mythic, EA Bioware, Cryptic, Square Enix, Funcom, and whoever else you can name. Companies who spent a lot of money making games that ended up being neither fish nor fowl, trying to outdo Blizzard by copying WoW and tacking something onto that, and shoddily executed to boot.

There is nothing wrong to want something different from World of Warcraft. But you can't blame Blizzard for not changing WoW to a completely different game, because it is the *other* companies who need to innovate and find a new model of MMORPG which people are willing to play and pay for. It would be highly ironic if Blizzard, with their glacial development pace and need to keep their old game running, still managed to be the first company to realize that World of Warcraft is not the only possible model for a game getting over a million subscribers in the USA and Europe, and produced just such a game with their next generation MMO.
Comments:
I'm sorry but you got your analogy entirely backwards,

What he's saying is that 5 years ago a quality restraunt with an high quality extensive menu opened up that was better than any of the other restaurants. The people there were smart and nice and behaved like adults and they had an interesting and inventive menu.

But over the years a tiny amount each day the food got a little worse and the menu got slimmed down. Until all of a suddden you realised that it had slowly, day by day, turned into macdonalds. That there were now only two things on the menu, neither of them very good. But because the change was so gradual and you mostly went there to be with your friends you hardly noticed.

And then you suddenly wake up and think, actually this isn't nearly as good as it used to be. In fact I don't like it here at all any more. But all the other people there start saying "But look, there is a new tiny extra burger promised next month. And anyway, it can't be bad, look how many people are eating here!" -- But you look around and discover that the nice people you used to enjoy dining with have mostly been replaced with a bunch of kids who are mostly only interested in how fast they can shovel tasteless food down their mouths. And suddenly one day you turn up with your friends, and they say Oh we have a new policy, Instead of waiting for a table so you can sit together we'll split you up and make you eat with random strangers. It's not much fun but you can fit in three times as many burgers in a day now!

And you say to your friends that isn't why you go to eat there... And discover that half of them have happily run off to random tables so they can eat whatever is pushed to them as fast as possible, and the other half has just stopped eating out any more because they don't like it any more than you do.

And so you start saying to people this isn't the restaurant I used to like! And most of the people there just shout well it used to be awful, you had to wait 20 minutes for a meal sometimes, and sometimes meals lasted hours! Now it's much more efficient. And this is because all the people who liked the game as it was have left, and while there might be more people there now, they are mostly kids who will likely be off to the next fad when that opens up.

So you sit there thinking even the restraunt I used to go to before this one opened is better now. But nobody goes there any more so I'd end up sitting there eating better food on my own...
 
@John Burton: but has the food really gone that much worse? I wasn't there when the restaurant opened five years ago, but when I taste what was on the menue then, questing in the vanilla zones, and compare to what is served to me in Northrend, there's no question about that the newer content is way more tasty.

I think the effects of nostalgia and the way our memories work, making us forgetting the bad stuff and just remember the good stuff, easily misleads us.

The endless grinds for instance that used to be and are nowadays more or less gone. Is that something you'd rather see served at your restaurant than the variety of dishes they have now?
 
Heh, Tobold, clearly Belgium does not have any issues with government-owned monopolies [or any monopoly for that matter]. Since if you use that in your analogy instead of Mcdonalds the picture change dramatically.

The keyword here is "monopoly" . Whether it is AT&T, Apple, MICROSOFT , the end result tends to be the same. There's a reason why there are all these "anti-trust" type of laws being flung around.

WoW, good or bad, IS a monopoly. What Blizzard does, shall be. If Blizzard raise the sub price to $30, the industry will follow, if they sell $25 ponies, they industry will follow. If Blizzard believes a deep complex experience in an MMO is "redundant" , then the industry will follow.

It's -extremely- , if not impossible for a company to enter the MMO market these days. If they don't launch on the same level as WoW, they're dead.

So back to the McDs comparison, as the previous poster mentioned, it's more a case of McDs is the CAUSE of the "dirty/badly lit/poor service" of the other "mom & pop" restaurants. It's a case of momentum, same reason why Linux is not getting anywhere and have to rely on VOLUNTEER work. McDs are getting the $$$, they can continue to "do what they want" ,the smaller restaurants simply have no chance from the start...
 
Oh we have a new policy, Instead of waiting for a table so you can sit together we'll split you up and make you eat with random strangers.

This is what I don't get about all these accusations of SPMMO that I see from Bull and Wolfshead. I occasionally sit down at a table with strangers, but not because I chose to. Because I have to, due to being in a hurry and on the way to do something else.

I hang out with my friends, and no, they aren't replaced by a bunch of kids. The 'MaccyDs' has been redecorated into a more palatable environment that also allows me to pop in there for a coffee on my own, as well as spend time there with friends.
 
But over the years a tiny amount each day the food got a little worse and the menu got slimmed down.

Sorry, but WoW in 2010 is about three times larger and offering more functionalities than in 2005. What would you say has been removed from WoW? I think the problem is that you are still eating the same burger, slightly improved burger even, but because you ate burgers every day for the last 5 years, they now taste stale to you. That is a problem of your tastebuds, not of the burger.

WoW, good or bad, IS a monopoly.

No, it simply isn't. There are now hundreds of MMORPGs, and as most of them are still running, your claim that every MMORPG which doesn't have WoW subscription numbers is "DEAD" is just plain false. Many small MMORPGs are even highly profitable, which is why there are new ones coming out every month.

That some companies are trying to make multi-million player MMORPGs and fail is because their games simply aren't very good. Blizzard isn't doing anything to stop them.
 
What Wolfshead refuse to accept is that "the people suck, not Blizzard".

He WANTS to believe that Blizzard addicted (otherwise good) people to play a grindfest game, taking away subscribers from better games killing them.


Your McDonalds analogy is perfect. McDonalds did NOT take away the "talking at the table" by serving fast food. The people thrown it away for quick fries.

It's never the Blizzard. It's always the people.
 
I suspect you're simply too casual to enjoy a good cockroach, Tobold.
 
@John Burton

A lot of what you said is heavily influenced by your nostalgia. I know how you feel, I signed up for WoW only a few months after it's release, so I remember all the big and small vanilla moments. But be reasonable, the content is better now than it ever was. You're faulting it for becoming streamlined and stagnant because it doesn't change.

Sure I think it's got more potential than it's using but by this time I'd prefer to see a new game instead of a drastic change in WoW.
 
Sorry Tobold but it's the sad truth: People overall do NOT want to think, at least not during long stretches of time and YES, McDonalds actually screwed things up in ways we have yet to recover from. Nearly the entire food industry in the US is based on the legacy of McDonalds "invention" and it's a disaster. We're a bit less "tainted" in Europe but we just can't compete against it so our agriculture is losing money all over the place.

...People loved it though...

That's why TV was so popular with families for a very long time: brain dead flashing images for everyone.

Computers are capping points from the TV more and more but while a computer can be used to learn what no man ever before could dream of learning in the history of mankind, it's mainly used for porn, youtube moronic videos, stupid social networks and anonymous insulting.

You cannot force humans to do what they don't want to and a lot of us just don't give a damn. Just by having your blog up and running you need to understand that you're part of another branch of humanity, you split from the "mass of people" and you're not in the majority anymore, you're in the niche...

Why do you think so many elected politicians, all around the world, are so fucked up? They talk good, shiny and easy to crowds that do not want to think. That's why Democracy is kinda the best of them: bit less risk of something insanely wrong happening when you have the voting majority being brain dead people :)

Personally I just wish there were more investors for niche games so we could have tons and tons of little MMOs with really different views and ideas. I don't need fancy graphics like Crysis and what not, I know that.

And finally, to nostalgics: WoW was NOT more fun when it launched, it was fun enough for that time as it is fun enough today.

And Wolfshead is just bored...People go on re-making the world when they're bored and believe that everyone has to listen the them and be bored with them...
In a week he'll have find a new game and move on....fickle minds do that.
 
Sorry, but WoW in 2010 is about three times larger and offering more functionalities than in 2005. What would you say has been removed from WoW?
Well, there's the old family meals. While each person can eat more than they used to, gathering enough people to even make the order is difficult. Quite a few people don't care about the old family meals or even know that they exist. Of course, that's not the fault of the restaurant. At best, one could blame the restaurant for not improving the family meals, and even that's a somewhat hollow accusation, because there's an ad on the front door about their new, revamped menu being ready Soon(tm).
 
I am going to repeat another example that I already wrote down yesterday, because it covers the other side of the coin: The consumer.

You talk about Blizzard and how we shouldn't blame them. Well - you are right. It's not Blizzards fault. Wolfshead is wrong here. However, that is not the central thesis of his post: It is just the weakest part.


Example:
You like motor cycles. The sound of accelerating, the air on your skin, the way the fuel smells and the looks of the machine.

Now, imagine there were many, many cars and only three different motor cycles. One of them is clearly the best. However, you think that many things could be made better: The motor cycle has a small front shield that you would like removed and the sound of accelerating is not to your liking.

Since it is the best on the market you drive it for years.

Over the years all companies make the front shield bigger and make the motor as quiet as possible.

Eventually you 'quit'. There are no motor cycles on the market that you would want to drive anymore. Instead, companies add drugs to the motor cycle cabin that make people happy when they drive it. When you started there wasn't even a cabin!
(Ok, that's a little bit silly, but you get my point :)

Now, you drove that motor cycle for 10 years! You argued in forums on how to make things better; spent hundreds if not thousands of hours. You even have a well-known motor cycle blog!

But when you write down your feelings, people disregard you as a crank who drove that motorcycle for 10 years, although he didn't like it.

Man, this guy must be stupid!


Conclusion: I agree with Wolfsheads analysis of the problems in the MMO industry today and more than anything else I agree on an emotional basis.


PS: I still believe Blizzard is producing a fantasy sandbox in the background. It is a big market gap and one of a few ways to complement WoW instead of replacing it.

They wouldn't even have to innovate a lot. You can transfer half of EVE Online into a fantasy sandbox. The other parts are covered by Darkfall and, of course, WoW and its clones.

The revolutionary part were to bring these proven concepts together and polish them.

Anyway, if I am wrong I could well stop playing MMOs. I already invest more time discussing them than actually playing them!
 
It's a good comparison. There's nothing wrong with catering for the masses.

And WoW being stagnant? I stopped playing for a year and now that I'm back a *lot* has changed. The introduction of a LFG finder and the dual specs has completely changed the way I play the game.

---

"Heh, Tobold, clearly Belgium does not have any issues with government-owned monopolies [or any monopoly for that matter]."

Hah, no state owned monopolies. We're probably the king of government-owned monopolies.
 
@Muton,

You got your example entirely back the front. The US food industry actively sought to industrialize itself beginning from the 1930's. McDonalds is a product of that industrialization, as they used food techniques and products that were already available.

Please read, "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan for a general explanation, or "One Continuous Picnic" by Michael Symons for a more in depth look at the situation.
 
"this would be a niche game, people don't want to think"

Anyone saying this clearly... *struggles to be charitable* ... hasn't thought it through.

Popular entertainments which involve a lot of thinking: Counterstrike (very tactical). Any RTS (which part of "strategy" didn't you understand?). WoW PvP (think and react faster than the other guy). Pub quizzes (very very popular in the UK at least). Lost (mystery, mystery, mystery. Network heads didn't think it'd work because, yes, people don't want to think). Arguing (you may have noticed people like doing that on the Internet).

People DO want to think. People DON'T want terrible design or vertical learning curves.
 
To take another analogy, World of Warcraft is like a Super Mario jump & run game. There is nothing wrong with getting tired of jump & run games, or with getting so good at them that the big mass market jump & run game isn't really challenging you very much. So now you rather want to play a first-person shooter, and that is fine, and the big company making Super Mario is not preventing anyone from making a good first person shooter game.

What is stupid is some companies hearing that you want a first person shooter, seeing how successful Super Mario is, and making a game which is basically Super Mario with a Mario wielding a machine gun. That simply doesn't work. And you demanding from Blizzard to change their Super Mario game to include more machine guns also doesn't work. That is not a lack of innovation, it is simply sticking to what they are good at. Blizzard makes an excellent Super Mario jump & run game, once you realize that this is all it is, and you can't expect machine guns in that game.

You are simply knocking at the wrong door! Tell EA to make a good first person shooter without a Mario jumping and running around! Blizzard is not doing anything which would prevent EA or any other company to make the game YOU want. So why blame them?
 
Yeah I agree, people definitely do want to think, because not using your brain will always lead to boredom. Thinking isn't only confined to numerical or statistical values. When I say people do like to think, I mean think intellectually or creatively. Creativity isn't niche.

Of course there are some people who don't want to think, but they usually suffer from crippling depression or a severe case of dead.
 
By the way, if World of Warcraft is such an anti-social game, in which everybody just soloes, and nobody plays together any more with friends, then how could WoW possibly benefit from a network effect? If everybody is playing solo and has no online friends, it doesn't matter how big the game is, and whether it has only 11 players or 11 million players.
 
The problem is one thing, it's money. To make money, the game must be successful. They look around and see WoW to be the most successful. Thus, they try to copy and be like WoW. They no longer try to make a "better" game than WoW, but their aim is to make a game that can be successful like WoW.

The mistake with that thought is that they often think that being like WoW is a good thing. But it's not. WoW is successful NOT because it's the best MMORPG. It's successful because it's the most popular MMORPG that everyone and their moms play. It's an MMORPG that is truly MASSIVELY MORPG. And the number of players is the most important thing when it comes to MMORPG. If you sell crap but a lot of people like it, then the crap is great though it's really just crap.

When Tobold said that Blizzard didn't stop other companies from making a better game, he was right. Blizzard couldn't do that. But the problem is why do people actually play WoW? Tobold himself had specifically said that his perfect MMORPG is in many ways different than WoW. So despite WoW being far from the perfect MMORPG for him, Tobold still plays WoW.

So why do other people play WoW? This goes back to my point above. Because it's MASSIVELY MORPG. It's the most popular MMORPG in the world. MMORPG is about playing with other people. It's number one. It's the most popular. Of course people will play. Because they want to play with other people even if WoW isn't that great.

Just like McDonald's. Why do people actually eat at McDonald's? There are other places selling more delicious burgers. There are other places offering better services. There are other places selling cheaper food. There are other places selling healthier food. Yet, people still go to McDonald's and eat there. Why? Because everyone else is doing it too.

Are McDonald's and WoW to be blamed? Not exactly. But at the same time, I feel that they aren't exactly innocent either. McDonald's clearly played a part in the increasing number of obesity in the world. They need to take some responsibility for that. WoW clearly played a part in "setting the bar" in MMORPG world. But at the same time, what do they do with it afterwards? Are they continuously improving the quality of the game to be closer and closer to the perfect MMORPG that the players want, or are they just going along for the ride and milk some money from the cows? There are many WoW players that wouldn't even give other MMORPG a chance at all just because it's not like WoW or too WoW-clone. It's a part of the responsibility that Blizzard had to take IMO. They set the bar based on popularity rather than quality. It's a dangerous point because eventually WoW will stop one day, and when it does, will MMORPG as a genre simply crumble because nobody really wants to play non-WoW MMORPG?
 
"blame Square Enix"

The one of the only companies that is trying to breath new life into the stagnant genre? Tobold, the hell are you smoking? I want some of that.
 
Good analogy! I got into the game a bit too late. I.e, when TOC came out. So there is a ton of content I have never seen (every raid instance). I have been exploring the zones that will soon be changed by Cataclysm rather than trying to catch up with Heroics. I went through Silithus today, and I have to say, that is a cool looking place.

I think the whole 5 years this game has been around Blizzard has worked pretty hard to make an interesting game. Nothing in all the other MMO's I have tried have made a zone as interesting as Blizzard. In fact, I don't think anything has changed in that zone since the Gates were opened. If it hasn't changed at all for many years, how can it be any less interesting?

Speaking of restaurants, Tobold, I'll be in Brussels in a few weeks. Do you know any good restaurants that serve traditional cuisine?tb15
 
I'll be in Brussels in a few weeks. Do you know any good restaurants that serve traditional cuisine?

If you don't mind the rather rustic setting, I'd recommend the Kelderke on the north side of the Grand Place of Brussels. Try the stoemp with sausages, it doesn't get any more traditional than that.
 
The one of the only companies that is trying to breath new life into the stagnant genre?

I'll reserve my judgement on that until I played FFXIV. Because frankly, FFXI didn't impress me when it came out. Forced grouping and a very narrow level range in which you can group doesn't make for an attractive combination.
 
@Blaise

"people still go to McDonald's and eat there. Why? Because everyone else is doing it too."

There are hundreds of McDonald’s in London. The likelihood of me seeing anyone I know when I go into one is very, very small. Have I been cajoled by some collective unconscious into eating there? Maybe.
Or maybe the fast food chain offer cheap food, quickly at my convenience.

Equally, as fun as it is to pretend that millions of people have brainwashed each other to play a video game that has no redeeming features, the enthusiasm with which each update is greeted appears to suggest that the majority find it enjoyable.

“They set the bar based on popularity rather than quality.”
“Are they continuously improving the quality of the game to be closer and closer to the perfect MMORPG that the players want”

Is it a binary choice between quality and popularity? (1)
If so, can the game “the players want” ever be produced through incremental quality improvements? (2)
Can anyone achieve a ‘perfect MMORPG’ which would keep everyone happy?
I find this unlikely. However I would argue that Blizzard have continuously implemented features that players have asked for over 5 years, giving them the game they want.

Maybe it’s not the game you want?
 
My thoughts exactly. "MAN, THIS TOWN SUCKS, THAT RESTAURANT THAT'S DOING IT PERFECTLY IS TERRIBLE!"
 
Actually you can blame Blizzard, and you should. However, that does not mean what they did was wrong, not in the least.

Yes, Blizzard is 100% right (morally, or something-wise, it doesn't matter) to have competitive business practices. And yes they should only be lauded for their success.

And YES they are to "blame" for the MMO industry. You can not "logically" argue that Blizzard isn't directly responsible for the shape of the industry today.
 
Tell EA to make a good first person shooter without a Mario jumping and running around! Blizzard is not doing anything which would prevent EA or any other company to make the game YOU want. So why blame them?

Ummm ... y'all remember how AoC and WAR both started getting attention for some feature or other that wasn't in WoW (and thus threatening to take some market share away from Blizzard) and then wonder of wonders Blizzard announced some (hitherto unknown) new things for WoW's next expansion? All with very convenient timing? And then once we do get to see Blizzard's version it's a watered down half assed chunk of functionality (but oh so shiny and accessible for the casuals).

Blizzard, being a massively dominant market force, can and has prevented other game companies from building the games we want, and they've done this by sucking all the oxygen out of the room.

Do we really need to revisit the many and varied posts about how MMOs fail due to lack of attaining a threshold volume of players?
 
WoW, good or bad, IS a monopoly. What Blizzard does, shall be. If Blizzard raises the sub price to $30, the industry will follow

If anything, Blizzard would be more likely to lower the sub price. They'd still make massive profits because they have the leverage of economies of scale, but now all other game publishers would be wiped out of the market.

That they haven't raised their prices in all this time, despite it costing more and more to make a triple-A MMO, is effectively the same thing.
 
Blizzard isn't required by the government to improve the MMO industry.

Blizzard isn't required by the shareholders to improve the MMO industry.

Maybe Blizzard isn't even required by their CEO to improve the MMO industry, but just to 'make money', NOW!

But I would like to them to do it nontheless. Just like I would like my superiors to tell me from time to time that they value my work.

You cannot really blame people or companies here; not even the WoW-clone companies.

But you can be disappointed. That is what I am. That is what Wolfshead is: Disappointed.
 
Wow is like McDonald's and has a monopoly? We are all forced to play WoW and all companies are forced to emulate WoW? These statements are just plain wrong.

Let me offer another analogy. In the US Ford, GM, and Chrysler used to rule the automobile industry. Everyone wanted to buy their cars. Every foreign automaker that tried selling cars in the US failed miserably. The reason they failed miserably is because they tried to emulate the US car model: big gas guzzlers with flashy looks. Every US consumer who tried out these foreign knock offs were turned off by their poor design, shoddy work, or laughed at by Americans for driving a foreign "wannabe" car. Then Toyota showed up and slowly upgraded the quality of their work (Toyota cars were notorious for rusting bodies and fading paint). They began to offer fuel efficient cars as an alternative to the American gas guzzler. They began to add a bit more style to their designs while remaining unique and not "american clones". Today Toyota has so much market share in the US and the "Big 3" aren't so big anymore. Honda, Suzuki, Subaru, etc., followed.

The only reason why WoW is so big and is copied so often is because it is so successful. The mistake made is that these companies are looking to WoW and saying "how can we be like them?" or "how can we be better than them?". What these companies (and their subscribers) should be thinking is "how can we make ourselves better?". "What can we offer that is totally different and immersive?". When you compare and compete against someone else you will only be as good as they are, but if you look to yourself and set the bar higher each time, you will improve in ways you would find surprising.

And by the way - I used to eat at McDonald's too and I haven't set foot there in years. Why? Because I found local restaurants that server better quality food and have more variety. The reason people go to McDonald's is because of marketing and convenience. But like everything else - if you put a little extra effort into it - you will find something better or different but equally or more satisfying. No one forces anyone to eat at McDonalds. The Ronald McDonald clown isn't running around hold a gun to a hungry patron's head and marching them to the local McD's. And WoW isn't a monopoly; anyone thinking otherwise should look up the word. To be a monopoly, WoW would need to control the internet and disallow any competitor from developing any type of internet based game. Since there are dozens, if not hundreds, of internet based MMOPRG's you cannot by the proper definition even remotely claim WoW is a monopoly. Maybe the only monopoly that exists is the player base's stupidity and lack of imagination?
 
If anything, Blizzard would be more likely to lower the sub price. They'd still make massive profits because they have the leverage of economies of scale, but now all other game publishers would be wiped out of the market.


I disagree ... a lot.
Do you really look at the money when you buy an MMO?

Do you also always buy the cheapest apple, the cheapest cinema ticket? MMOs are incredibly cheap if you play them more than a few hours per week. I know people who have oldtimers or model railroads as a hobby.

They sometimes spend thousands of euros per month!!

I know people who go to a club after work and buy a few drinks. Even that beats MMO costs by an order of magnitude - even in Germany.
 
I think MMO players need to reflect more often on the massive amount of content they devour. When you consume so much it can't all be filet mignon, especially if not every customer will have the desire or ability to sample it.

In a virtual world the marginal cost of providing content is trivial, but having a broad customer base gives you the resources to provide more faster. And so you have the mcdonaldization, catering to the large number of people who like things quick, safe, and easy.

Blizzard still offers the challenging PvE and PvP encounters that only a few will master. If you've had your fill of these, you can always wait until they change the menu or sample another game.
 
Blizzard still offers the challenging PvE and PvP encounters that only a few will master. If you've had your fill of these, you can always wait until they change the menu or sample another game.

To delve into this very specific issue:

I don't want a 'challenge'. All I want is the feeling that those polygons that I mass murder are arctually .. monsters? you know: 'dangerous'?

The virtual world on the surface is a bad joke. I can sometimes kill these 50 feet high 'monsters' with a single critical arcane blast that takes about 1.5 seconds to cast! mana isn't even an afterthought.

There are some creatures with 100x as many hit points on the surface of Northend that feel totally arbitrary! And they just stand around in front of that redicilous citadell (Build by whom?)
Even those flying drakes don't care about me when I fly over them.

Sorry!! This is bullshit!

I know that some of these things aren't easy to change. But Blizzard doesn't even try. They never tried since vanilla!

Start WoW. Walk around the world. And then look into my (virtual) eyes and tell me that this is the best virtual world a company that makes billions could create! It fails even as theme park!
 
This was just an example. An example for what Wolfshead and others are talking about.

Yeah - ICC HC is hard. Sure it is. If all I wanted was to meet with 25 people twice a week to do some raid WoW were great.

The most develpment costs, however, go into the virtual world and this virtual world is about as credible as the stories my 1 year old niece listens to when she is supposed to sleep.

Did Arthas try to defeat you? Did he? He ported around the world to have some cameo appearance in instances. Then he did this hilarious porting to this coloseum to frighten us.

I mean .. don't you expect more of a billion dollar company? Wouldn't you expect the lich king to actually send hordes of undead against you? Wouldn't you expect some attack on Dalaran?

Wouldn't you expect your own King to do something else with the ressources than to build a colloseum in the worst possible place you could imagine?

Blizzard doesn't even try! I am 30 years old; I don't want this childish bullshit!!
 
@Nils: you clearly miss the fel reavers in Hellfire... They surely made at least my life pretty miserable. But yeah, you have a point. Although it's also related to where you are in an expansion. If you're reached endgame and are overgeared most mobs you encounter in the world are a joke. But I suppose that when Cataclysm comes and we'll start raiding again they'll actually hurt a bit.
 
But I suppose that when Cataclysm comes and we'll start raiding again they'll actually hurt a bit.

Read Tobolds last post. They won't!

WotLK mobs didn't hurt when my S2 equipped druid did them.
They didn't even hurt when my green lvl 69 mage did them. The only time mobs ever hurt is if they are so high-lvl that nothing you do ever hits them and your armor is artificially lowered.

The worst thing, however, is their size. It seems that everything in the world is just 5x as large as I am. Just like that. As if that weren't enough: Their stamina doesn't depend on their size at all.

Instead, the health points are standardized (they probably call it streamlined). 95% of lvl 80 mobs have approximately the same amount of health and it really doesn't matter if it is a ghoul or a giant or whatever.

And the damage they do is just .. I could kill mobs with my feral duid in S2/greens and he didn't even lose health by auto attacking! Leader of the pack regged more than the mobs took away!

Some of those giants could simply step on me and be done! Instead they do some move that obviously didn't hit me, because I am too small, and then this move does some incredibly low damage.

I need to stop here. Don't want to derail the threat ;)
 
@Nils: It's evident that you don't play a gnome or a cloth wearer.

My feelings for those monsters that hurt are sort of mixed. It was cool to feel the Earth tremble but very uncool to die as much as I did. I've never been as close to giving up the game as I was at level 58 in Hellfire, a newbie player, a clothie playing fire mage when a lot of the mobs were fire resistent. The boar ate me alive unless the Fel reaver missed to stomp me into the ground. Oh, times...
 
@Larísa:

Fire mage. Exactly my class and level specc. Read my comments again: It shines through.

Now, the fel reavers were bad, because they were huge, but you couldn't see them until they were in front of you.

If you really considered quitting, because you had problems killing those fire resistent pigs (what about frost bolts?), then you may be right:
WoW is THE GAME for you.

Isn't it great when some monsters are relatively hard to kill? You could even kill others mobs. It's not like fire pig are the only way to gain exp. It's not like the death penalthy were like .. 'servere'.

*sigh*
 
Opening of the Gates of AQ.
Yes the grind before this was "difficult", but the day of the opening with the different open world bosses in different zones was awesome.
Invasions - not quite as good as the opening, but thats what your getting at, events that temporarily change the world for all players.
Vanilla open world dragon bosses on pvp servers- rolling fights with upwards of 150 players per side, and lag to make you dream about.
Vanilla AV matches that lasted 4-5 hours and swayed backwards and forwards over the terrain. Required team play of the highest order and TACTICS to win.
UBRS 10 mans were always more challenging than naxxII.
Crowd Control = where is it now? Only to be used when undermanning content (which is fun).
The McDonalds analogy is wrong. Blizzard is closer to a TV production company that aims for large audience share, compared to other program makers who have different aims.
 
Man, that's some hilarious posting in this thread. Let's see, Blizzard is a monopoly, Blizzard single handedly controls the flow of innovation in the MMO market, Blizzard should be shot because they haven't advanced MMOs as far as some feel they should have, Blizzard is a bad bad company because they don't force grouping, etc etc.

So many sad, frustrated, blinded by nostalgia, bitter, jaded people who only lash out at WoW because it's the biggest target around, and it's oh fashionable to rage at it. To paraphrase some Goons, I find their tears delicious.

And you know why? Because none of them figured out why WoW is so successful: and that is because it is a mmorpG, with the capital G for GAME. It simply is the best GAME in its genre, and all the people pining for better multiplayer (MM)or a better game world (RP) simply fail to understand that those things alone will not support a product - it's the G that keeps people playing and paying.

I'm not even playing WoW at the moment, and I still find the levels of cognitive dissonance astounding.
 
@Nils

It sounds like there are two things you're asking for: immersion and challenge.

I agree with the former - as does Blizzard, although their definition focusses on use of phasing technology and vehicles, together with better questing (DK starting area).

I disagree with your call for further challenge - I get sufficient enjoyment from ICC25 hard modes and PvP. I can't see random NPCs ganking players as adding much to be honest. Feel free to submit it to Blizzard as a suggestion, however.
 
The problem is that the mass market consumer is unsophisticated. This problem cannot be solved, because it's in the best interest of MMORPGs to be as big as possible which mandates mass market appeal.

Hugh: People resist thinking. They look for shortcuts at every opportunity so they have to think as little as possible. You've provided plenty of examples of this:

"Counterstrike (very tactical)" involves mostly twitch and only is "very tactical" when played at a high level.

"Any RTS (which part of "strategy" didn't you understand?)."

Most RTS games are terrible strategy games that have only one viable strategy "Mass tanks and win". Building a million tanks and rolling over your opponent does not require thought. Most RTS players never get passed "spamming" as a central strategy. People are attracted to RTSes for the explosions and the illusion that thinking is involved.

"WoW PvP (think and react faster than the other guy)." And we all know that most PvP players in any PvP game are awful because they absolutely fail to understand the game. You don't even need to think to be a good PvPer, anyway, you just need to look up what other people have done and spend time practicing.

"Pub quizzes (very very popular in the UK at least)."

This is regurgitation of basic facts, not thinking.

"Arguing (you may have noticed people like doing that on the Internet)."

Usually people memorize or reuse arguments they've seen other people use, or they blindly appeal to tradition or authority. That kind of "arguing" involves as little thought as possible.
 
It sounds like there are two things you're asking for: immersion and challenge.

I agree with the former - as does Blizzard, although their definition focusses on use of phasing technology and vehicles, together with better questing (DK starting area).


For me they go hand in hand. I don't like artificial challenges. I turned down hc offers more than once. But I do want a 40 feet high ages-old giant to feel 'dangerous'.

I just cannot fool myself into taking him for dangerous if I can beat him without any challenge.

Hey: I do not ask Blizzard to make those 'giants' as difficult as the Lich King. All I ask is that I cannot go bear and make a coffe while auto attacking. And I am not talking about OP equip. I am talking about appropiate greens and quest rewards.
 
I can but agree with tobold. I tried everything decent out there (AoC, LoTrO, War, Aion... etc) and each time came back to wow because those game weren't "as good".

It's up to the publishers to offer decent challengers to wow, and i'll leave without second thoughts. Blizzard did not water down those games, they were "not enough" all by themselves :)
 
Nils, I really like your blog. Oh, wait! No, this is Tobold's blog, my bad!

Tobold, I really wish you hadn't used McDonalds in your example as I hate that company with a passion. You talk of core competencies, do you know what McDonald's greatest is? It's "Marketing to Children". They are not successful because they offer fast, inexpensive food, they are so because they are better than any company in the world at marketing to children.

Blizzard is very good at marketing as well, if they weren't how could they sell vanity pets or mounts for real money?

Other developers face a high barrier to entry, but they do not face a Monopoly. Monopolies create large barriers to entry, but that is not the ONLY characteristic. In fact it takes a lot more to call them a Monopoly and Blizzard just doesn't fit the definition.

The car company analogy was great, Toyota decided to offer something different of value and the American people bought it. Blizzard doesn't destroy the innovations of other companies, they make it hard for them to compete but that's only because of the success they have had with their product and their marketing.

What are we expecting of businesses? Do we expect them to be so altruistic that they must change at the whim of the vocal minority? No. Business make money, and they do it any way they can. If they have to put addicting drugs in their food or their smokes they'll do it until they are caught. Why the idealism by some people? What world do you live in? Blizzard owes us nothing. It would be nice if they were more responsible and offered the best of the best in features and quality. But they, like Tobold said, do what they do best.

Toyota didn't give up and say "The Big 3 are just too big." Other game makers can't give up either, maybe some day someone will have the courage, creativity and innovative spirit to make the new best game ever. But guess what, once they become huge as a result they will pursue the practice of making money just as every single 'for profit' business has ever done and will do.

I like WoW, not because I'm brainwashed but because for me it's fun. That's all that's important. I'm not blinded by Blizzard's marketing to buy silly things for extra real money, I don't do that. It's cheap entertainment and it tastes good. If I find later that it's laced with addicting agents, oh well, I had fun while it lasted.
 
Nils, I really like your blog. Oh, wait! No, this is Tobold's blog, my bad! [..] It's cheap entertainment and it tastes good.

You wouldn't like my blog ;)
 
You wouldn't like my blog ;)

Not even Nils likes Nils' blog. Which is why he is stranded as a refugee here. ;)
 
You trying to provoke me ? :)
 
The problem is not with WoW, or the people that play it.

The problem is with Publishers who don't understand games but who know a cash cow when they see one. They say to Developers "Go forth and make us rich with a game like WoW!" So the Developers, who wisely value their paycheques, go out and make the an MMO which is basically WoW with different clothes on. But they don't get it quite right, and instead of being a 'WoW-killer' it opens to great fanfare and huge sales but dies after a month once people realise that they can get the same thing from a game they already know.

Its the copycats that are killing the industry, stifling creativity and driving MMO's down a path to a world where WoW will be a monopoly, because all MMO's will be WoW.

Innovative and groundbreaking games like LOVE, and (yes I'm going to say it) EVE, Perpetuum, Face of Mankind and others will forever remain niche titles because the picture of an MMO that exists in the mainstream mind (which is the mind that most games publishers have, not being gamers but businessmen) if os "A game like WoW". This is what the man on the street looks for when he goes looking for an MMO and he can find its best example in WoW.

I have nothing against WoW. It is a great example of how to make a successful game. It is supremely good at what it does, and deserves its place at the top of the pile. The problem I have is that its existence is sucking the life out of the rest of the genre. That's not WoW's fault, it is such a huge phenomenon that even I sometimes find myself describing a game I adore (I think we can all guess which one) to the non-gamer's I meet as being "Like World of Warcraft, but in space".

To take the food analogy. Its not that McDonalds is a bad restaurant (bear with me here, I know that's stretching it a bit) its just that its the only restaurant that most people have heard of, so they don't know about the other smaller restaurants which serve different food.
 
To keep with the restaurant analogy, the big problem for me is that I would like to try other menus but the other restaurants are dowdy and as Tobold said often filled with roaches. Why other MMO's can't come close to WoW's polish (specifically the responsive feel of the engine) is a mystery.

I've also found in these places that the service often stinks. There's a fine line between a nice long family meal and an aggravating waste of time.

Finally, my life is so busy I usually have time for just a quick bite anyway.

One other thing I notice is that Wolfshead's endgame in WoW seems to be heroics. The Blizzard restaurant now has both a fast food counter (heroics) and a nice family restaurant that serves decent food (10-man normal mode raids). Albeit there were a few menu problems recently, and they've acknowledged that they need to speed up the rate of new menu items... well, I've stretched this analogy far enough.
 
Really, at it's root, is that a certain subset of WoW players are looking for something that no video game can provide. After they play long enough, they can't help but notice that the game is a tawdry carnival attraction, and not the source of whatever they were looking for.

Friendship? I don't know how many "friends" I've had in WoW that drifted away. They quit, changed guilds, whatever. Friendships in the game tend to wither outside the game. I've got two guys I talk to once in a while that I know from WoW. Another couple I'll shoot an email at once a year. That's it, out of dozens of people I considered friends during my WoW career.

Achievement? Everything you did is wiped every 18 months, or sooner. Even within the context of the game, everything you have done, and everything you will do, will become meaningless soon enough, even in the limited context of the game. WoW washes everything you did away, one way or another.

Status? These days you can't even be a snob very well, not when PUGs are running the high end raid instance.

So eventually the futility of the game cannot be ignored, and a slow boiling rage sets in every time the player checks /played. I know if I had spent half the time I spent on WoW working out, I would be shredded. Or I could have gotten a masters degree. Or built a house. Or something. Something that would matter to me now that I don't want to play anymore. Instead I was fatter,dumber, and hadn't made any real friends for two years, and had absolutely nothing to show for the time spent. It makes sense to feel a bit betrayed and pissed under those circumstances, even though its your own damn fault for taking the game too seriously.

Maybe I'm just describing myself, but I think it covers many of the people who rant about WoW. They are like Enron investors; they put too much of themselves into something, lost what they did put in, and are left with anger at the massive portion of their life they wasted on a eating lotuses.
 
The reason the other restaurants aren't up tot the same level of polish as WoW and those that copy it, is because the publishers and investors don't want to risk their cash on anything that isn't a surefire winner. They see WoW and they see a sure fire winner, and will only invest heavily in what are basically substandard copies. Anything that deviates even a littel from the WoW model simply doesn't get the backing and money required to produce the end to end polish that WoW has.
 
Mmh, Toxic! You really describe yourself here and I wouldn't even judge these two years like you do.

"Did you have fun for two years?"
is the central question. Look: Life is finite. If you had no fun then you wasted your time.

But, if you had fun, you did have something many people search for their whole life !!

I know people who seriously assert that they would feel bored without a job. They don't even feel ashamed to admit that they cannot find something to do out of themselves, but need bosses and/or customers to tell them what to do.
They never played a good MMO.

You don't usually judge activities on future return on investment, do you? When you play cards with some real life friends, do you do it to "strength the relationship, so that these socials will help you, should you get intro trouble somewhen in the future?" You're not Gevlon, are you?

You do it for the fun and you wouldn't condemn playing cards if you eventually lose contact with your friends, would you?
The fun itself is reason enough.

Do you live under a bridge now? Are you chronically ill because of WoW?
If not, nothing has been destroyed and you can still set out to explore, achieve and socialize in some subject like Business Administration.
Do it, if you seriously think that it will make you happy.


Now, what do ->I<- look for in MMOs?
As a main ingredient of fun I seek experience.
(No not those exp points :).

The expierience to walk along a dark trail through a swamp. The experience to smash a castles gate. The experience to lead an army. The experience of overcoming obstacles that cannot be found outside of my door, but only in human minds.

This I cannot find in nowadays MMOs, so I explore, achieve and socialize in game design right now. It is a fun MMO. Some people consider it part of 'real life' which makes it more 'real' for them. They don't understand that a virtual world is also part of real life. MMOs are not half as virtual you might think they are.
 
Nils, it's one thing to play WoW or any other MMO as a recreational thing; in and of itself, MMOs aren't bad. It's more when, and I knew a lot of these people, play it so that your life is work/wow/sleep that it gets out of hand. Very few people play cards 30 hours a week. Those that do are prime candidates for Gambler's Anonymous. It's one thing to do something for fun. It's another do play obsessively. I suspect that most of the people who become loudly disaffected with the game were investing too much time and energy into it to be fairly compared to Poker Night. They probably skipped Poker Night to raid Molten Core.
 
@ Toxic:

Maybe. But I have done that myself. I work/wow/sleeped for a long time. It was great!

I really think you should accept your WoW time for it was: A good time.

If you have seriously damages your possibilities to be happy later in life, you have reason to be sorry. But if these 2 years were just a fun part of your life after which you moved on, nothing has been lost.

I know people who worked their whole life. They earned a fortune in real life currency. When they retire they always tell you what they think that they have missed and what they should have done instead.

This is pointless. If you have fun in life, you have much more than most people; don't complain.
 
McDonalds took a niche industry (fast food) and became staggeringly successful. Along the way they changed the landscape with signage and ubiquitous restaurants; they changed the way we eat; they likely changed the average size of clothes we wear.

Did they set out to do any of that? Only the successful part. The rest was synergy with other areas of American lifestyle, workhabits, obsession with the car, etc.

Blizzard may be in position to lead the MMO genre, innovate, and potentially impact history like McDonalds. But they didn't set out or ask to be in that position. They weren't elected MMO-Czar.

Thus you can't really say they have a responsibility to do anything other than be successful at making money.
 
Because frankly, FFXI didn't impress me when it came out. Forced grouping and a very narrow level range in which you can group doesn't make for an attractive combination.

This is perfect example IMO as to why Blizzard is somewhat responsible. Tobold is right when FFXI came out, people were technically forced to group with very narrow level range (around 2-3 level difference to function the best). Tobold didn't like it, chose not to play FFXI, and decided to stick with WoW instead.

There's nothing wrong with liking WoW over the forced-grouping of FFXI. But why Blizzard should take some responsibility is because now WoW becomes everyone's "safety net" due to convenience and comfort.

If Tobold looks at FFXI now, there is Level Sync in which you still group to EXP parties, but now you can group with anyone higher than you and they can sync down to your level. This totally eliminates the "narrow level range" problem. FFXI now also has much more solo options and Beastmaster job had always been a job that is capable of soloing all the way to level 75 if they want to.

These changes had been available since 2008, but Tobold didn't even want to give FFXI a chance now because FFXI didn't impress him at launch and it's much more convenient to just play WoW (something that he actually likes to play) rather than sticking with FFXI to see what they can offer.

This same problem also happens to other MMORPGs because whenever there's something that people don't like about other MMORPGs (e.g.: Aion is too gimmicky WoW-clone, FFXI is too forced grouping, Darkfall is too specific market targeted, etc), people will just go back to WoW right away and don't bother looking back.

If you open another burger joint besides McDonald's, then you'd really need to grab their customers ASAP. The moment the customers start to think "oh your burger isn't as big as Big Mac" or "oh your burger is 50cents more expensive than McDonald's" etc they'd immediately go back to McDonald's even if after that you changed your burger to be bigger and cheaper.

However I would argue that Blizzard have continuously implemented features that players have asked for over 5 years, giving them the game they want.

So how come after 5 years, the perfect MMORPG for Tobold is still in many ways different than WoW?

When I said that WoW sets the bar not based on quality, I'm not saying that WoW is crap mind you. What I'm saying is that it's the popularity that makes it almost impossible for other MMORPG to obtain a slice of the pie.

Or a better question for everyone else who plays WoW. If you can only play ONE MMORPG, what kind of MMORPG that you would play over WoW? It doesn't have to exist now, but just in concept. I'm interested to hear because I'm unsure if people actually know what they want that is better than WoW.
 
Too many people here are arguing with emotion. Whether it's seething hatred, nostalgia, contempt, or disdain...you're missing the point.

Blizzard has done a damn good job of delivering games that get A LOT of people playing them. Their job as a GAME COMPANY is to publish GAMES that people WANT TO PLAY.

They've succeeded.

Trying to attack Blizzard for other game companies failing to do what they wanted to do is ridiculous.

Go read the EvE and Darkfall fanboy posts from earlier this month. Those games have how many subscribers, and yet their players LOVE those games almost beyond description.

Complaining that Blizzard owes YOU something means that Blizzard has to ignore the other millions of players who DON'T WANT TO PLAY THE GAME YOU WANT TO PLAY.

You are free to stop paying to play, as I have. I quit playing WoW and am not going back. Not because they owe me something and aren't giving it to me. Not because the game used to be better and now it is garbage. I and others have quit because we've played the game too long and it just isn't fun anymore. Full stop.

Nostalgia is a god damn liar. You've played the game too long. It's normal to get tired of doing the same things over and over again. Hell, the more you repeat something, the more you notice how uninteresting it is. This game is how many years old now...closing in on 6?

Would you play monopoly for 20 hours a week for 6 years straight? If no, why would you expect WoW to keep you entertained for the same absurd amount of time?

Breathe in, cancel your account if you hate the game so much, and move on to another game, or go to a museum. Blizzard doesn't owe you anything.

If you hate Blizzard because your niche MMO doesn't have a "chance", realize it isn't because the niche MMO is inherently better. It's because the total target audience is just inherently smaller. Sorry.

I'll offer an analogy.

I'm pretty sure more people visit theme parks each year than go sky diving. Should skydivers complain that generic theme parks are a monopoly that are hurting the niche market of skydiving? Are theme parks the lazy man/non-thinker's version of skydiving? Should theme parks have some special responsibility to work to improve the thrill-seeking industry of which skydiving is a part?

Of course not. Some people like to ride roller coasters for thrills. Some like to jump out of airplanes. Just because more people prefer roller coasters doesn't mean it's an inherently dumbed-down thrill . It's just different. And no one would argue that theme parks owe skydivers anything.

So how does Blizzard owe WoW players, the MMO market, or non-WoW players anything? If you aren't getting what you want out of WoW, STOP PAYING/PLAYING. If the MMO market is dominated by WoW, ask why no other game company has innovated enough to create a better overall game. If you don't play WoW, don't pretend that Blizzard has ruined your MMO, if they didn't actually make it.
 
If anything, Blizzard would be more likely to lower the sub price. They'd still make massive profits because they have the leverage of economies of scale, but now all other game publishers would be wiped out of the market. -- Garumoo


I disagree ... a lot.
Do you really look at the money when you buy an MMO? -- Nils


My point was that, assuming as market leader they set the trend and any change in their pricing results in similar price matching by competitors ($25 sparkle pony vs $25 copykat anyone?), then there is more advantage to them lowering their price than for raising it.

If they lower their price to 50% then what they spend on development isn't affected (they make a huge profit margin due to volumes). However, competitors are not in the same position, and chopping their revenue in half will hit their dev budgets quite severely (and they'll have a heck of a time justifying charging twice what Blizzard charges for the same old game, so not following price is not an option).

It will hurt in the short term for a few quarters, but they'll drive everyone else out of the market and further consolidate their position.

The alternative case is that they raise their price. If they do that, other games could either follow what the trend setter says is the reasonable price, and thus they'd have more revenues for their dev budget and be able to make stronger competitor games to WoW; or they could continue charging what they do now, spend the same what they do now on dev, and capitalise on the price difference as a selling point.
 
If the MMO market is dominated by WoW, ask why no other game company has innovated enough to create a better overall game.

This is why McDonald's is brought as an analogy. Domination of market is not simply based on better/best quality. Just because you open up a better overall restaurant, doesn't automatically mean that you'll be more successful than McDonald's.

That's the problem that I want to point out with the MMORPG world right now. Just because someone creates a better overall MMORPG than WoW doesn't mean that WoW players will all jump to that.

That's also why I asked what WoW players want from other games to make them leave WoW. I'm not sure that they have an answer. And without an answer for such question, what hope do other developers have to dethrone Blizzard from the top? Slim to none. They can't create something innovative and better if the players themselves don't know it even if they see it in front of their eyes.

Any attempt to create a better WoW is automatically branded as WoW-clone. Any attempt to create something different than WoW is automatically branded as too different. Something in the middle is branded as having no identity of what they want the game to be like. And so on.

Another question. If you're an MMORPG game developer, what would YOU create to bring down Blizzard and WoW? I'm not sure you know the answer to that.
 
I don't see how conceding that WoW is basically McDonalds, but that's ok because everyone else is Burger King; is a defense of WoW. WoW brought a lot to the MMO genre in terms of _gameplay_, and gameplay is always superior to features. If people want to defend WoW, defend what makes it good.

And yes, WoW is an easy game to get into, it's highly accessible. But do you know how many guilds have killed LK-25 on heroic? 60. In the entire world. Not even a 1/4 of 1%.

http://www.guildox.com/go/g.asp?a=4637&r=&w=

The bigger problem is one of "status deflation." When I played Vanilla, you know who the uber-people were based on their guild progress or the items they wore or their PVP title. Now, everyone can get a hugely impressive gear score by barely setting foot in the newest raid zone. While on the one hand it's great, because players like me can duel the likes of Yogg and Arthas, the game world itself has become more faceless, an Ayn Randian "dystopia" of equality.

Ultimately the solution is to just care about your own slice of the game world. Enjoy what you like in WoW with people who share similar interests, and stop giving a crap about the Joneses. WoW has gotten better with time, MMOs have gotten better with time, so stop lamenting the creep of old age and play the genre you enjoy with people you care about!
 
I think it's amazing that all you have to do is write a slightly negative post about the WoW community and you get 60 comments.

Well done sir.
 
Interesting to see Toxic's perspective... I remember having this conversation with him maybe a year ago when he was ranting about WoW. I have a roommate right now who is mid-40's and doing the work/WoW/sleep thing. In one way it's sad, but he also seems to be having lots of fun. Does he need a gf? Already been divorced several times. So...

As far as what people want... a lot of them, particularly those that care enough to blog, seem to want a permanent virtual presence that has as much validity as real life. I think there are also subconscious impulses towards the sense of achievement that is often tough to nail down in real life.

So I would say a lot of them want a game with WoW-quality engine/interface/encounters, less cartoony graphics, and a more sandbox world with things like player housing and a real social structure to the server. Something like EVE's or UO's structure with WoW's production values.

I don't think I'd ever have the time to play such a game, but then I'm more of a casual gamer who periodically goes on a WoW jag for a couple weeks, plays casually for a couple more months, then quits. Loving the game now, but I took the last 10 months off.
 
I think if you look at the sheer number of MMOs that have come out since WoW launched, you'll see that WoW created a market for them. That most failed to capitalize is more about their own shortcomings.

The sad truth is that most post-WoW MMOs have been either a little or a lot different, but not better than WoW. Most haven't been as good as WoW. If a publisher wants me to play another MMO, it needs to be at least as good as WoW. Otherwise it's just a one or two month diversion.

And when I get tired of WoW, I'm sort of tired of MMOs in general.
 
If a publisher wants me to play another MMO, it needs to be at least as good as WoW.

Could you please elaborate some more on that? I'm very interested to see what your definition of at least as good as WoW. Or even better, I'd like to see your definition of better than WoW.
 
I completely disagree with one of the comments: Catering to the masses is ALWAYS bad.

The reason? You keep lowering the bar.

Aiming to please mediocrity is NOT a good thing. Sure, it's damn profitable if you find a loophole (as Blizzard did, by chance I think) but that can't just be your goal.

This is also the constant struggle that Blizzard has been into since day one of WoW. They want to please the masses but they also want to raise the bar a little.
At first things were too extreme and they've tamed a log of the differences but still, they haven't completely give up yet.

Things like the Dungeon Finder. It's great but because it's not great for the right reasons, it's a nightmare. The only way you're ever going to have ANY group activity (besides killing stuff) is if you either invite people with you before going in, or if you get into some ranting with a bunch of morons.
So the Dungeon Finder is PERFECT for the masses but at the same time, it's the worst thing anyone can do in a MMO. It simply killed dungeonning and pretty much ruined any chance of anyone meeting anyone new because people are from everywhere and just don't care.
Finding a group, people from your server, then heading to the dungeon and doing it: THAT was the experience. Today, there is no difference between Dungeon Finder and just making players AFK for 15mins to get badges.
 
"Could you please elaborate some more on that? I'm very interested to see what your definition of at least as good as WoW. Or even better, I'd like to see your definition of better than WoW."

A lot of it is the polish. Just about everything works in WoW. And Blizzard keeps refining it.

Let me put it another way -- it's very easy to play WoW. Things are easy to do. It's easy to get around. It's easy to figure out quests. It's easy to do battlegrounds. Now it's easy to do heroics.

And WoW has a ton of content. It lets me do so many different things -- level alts, run dungeons, craft, play battlegrounds, play the AH, etc. It gives me all this with a high level of polish.

So my answer is that another MMO would need to be as easy to play. I no longer want to feel frustrated. I won't do XP loss over dying anymore. I won't stick around for long grinds just to make the next level. I want mailboxes and flightmasters and an AH that people use. I want opt-in PvP in the form of battlegrounds.

As to what I'd like to see in another MMO? That's tough. I'm a big Shadowbane fan. I'd like another experience like that, but cleaned up and with code that was polished.
 
So my answer is that another MMO would need to be as easy to play. I no longer want to feel frustrated. I won't do XP loss over dying anymore. I won't stick around for long grinds just to make the next level. I want mailboxes and flightmasters and an AH that people use. I want opt-in PvP in the form of battlegrounds.

There’s a difference between convenience and challenge though, and you’re mostly talking about convenience. For the most part I agree with you, except I don’t like opt-in battlegrounds (though in WoW they’re necessary) and I cringe every time I hear an MMO developer excitedly state that his game has an Auction House as if ruining the game’s economy before release is a staple of the genre now.

Convenience is needed when the action taken is something common, where the only reward is getting the activity out of the way to pursue more important things. Challenge is when there is a certain amount of risk involved for a substantial reward. Frustration in an MMO mostly comes from the lack of convenience. I think most people would accept challenge if the actions necessary to undertake it were convenient enough.

WoW does this for the most part, but the way it's designed makes it feel like the convenience is starting to overlap with the challenge, which muddles both of them together and creates something "easy" in general. I think it could stand to separate convenience and challenge a bit to avoid a buildup of boredom. Most of us can agree that as a company Blizzard has pretty much only done right, but as the most prevalent MMORPG in the world, WoW does little to help the genre. It doesn’t necessarily need to change, and we all know Blizzard developers cannot innovate to save their life anyway, but if I were to bash it, I’d knock on how they’re just digging a hole that can only be filled with a constant stream of specific content.

^ I hope that made sense, lacking sleep here.
 
Oh also, to Mark Asher,

Shadowbane is just about the opposite of what I'd expect you to like from your comments on ease of play :P
 
"Shadowbane is just about the opposite of what I'd expect you to like from your comments on ease of play :P"

Ha ha, I know.

There are pre-WoW MMOs (who would ever again put up with the leveling grind of EQ when it launched) and post-WoW MMOs.

And even if Shadowbane was reborn and polished and the code was great, it had one basic built-in problem -- a guild or coalition could basically "win" the game and seize control of a server.

That's very bad for retention.
 
"WoW does this for the most part, but the way it's designed makes it feel like the convenience is starting to overlap with the challenge, which muddles both of them together and creates something "easy" in general. I think it could stand to separate convenience and challenge a bit to avoid a buildup of boredom."

I've wondered this about WoW: What if the most difficult dungeon in the game only rewarded players with a vanity item -- a title, or pet, or mount -- that conferred no advantage?

Would players still run that dungeon?

Blizzard needs to figure out how to put a price-tag on prestige that doesn't otherwise give an advantage in PvP or raids. It's clear now that Blizzard wants to make it somewhat easy for level-capped players to be more or less equal in power.
 
"I'll reserve my judgement on that until I played FFXIV. Because frankly, FFXI didn't impress me when it came out. Forced grouping and a very narrow level range in which you can group doesn't make for an attractive combination."

Fair enough, but I still wouldn't say that XI is a reason why the genre is stagnant, nor do I get that impression from what I have seen them say about XIV (along with changes made to XI, that in fact fixed the issues you mentioned).

It is, however, understandable that you are skeptic about it because of your earlier bad impression. Still, would be nice to see you talk about it along with EVE, WoW, TOR etc. I guess you will talk about it more as the release draws closer though, so I'll just keep waiting.
 
"People DO want to think. People DON'T want terrible design or vertical learning curves."

Sure, there are lots of people who want to think. Unfortunately, right now there are tons of people who don't care to think very much. Look at the movies that tend to get the lion's share of money. The better ones do involve some quality and thought, but the mindless formulaic movies do quite well. There are a lot of people out there who are fine with going for mindless fun.
 
WoW brought a lot to the MMO genre in terms of _gameplay_, and gameplay is always superior to features. If people want to defend WoW, defend what makes it good.


This is exactly the point, Ben.
The best proof are Blizzrads failed attempts to introduce vehicle fights that ignore their core gameplay.
 
So my answer is that another MMO would need to be as easy to play. I no longer want to feel frustrated. I won't do XP loss over dying anymore. I won't stick around for long grinds just to make the next level. I want mailboxes and flightmasters and an AH that people use. I want opt-in PvP in the form of battlegrounds.


This is a race to the bottom. Next MMO will not even teleport you any more when you die (Startrek Online). Then you will argue: "I don't want no teleports when I die!!".

I'm looking forward when people will tell me: Dying in an MOM is so 2005!

You are the hero! Why should you pay for a game that makes you 'die'?

What about a slight penalthy when you health sinks to 0. Perhaps you could reduce this penalthy with a microtransaction and remove it with a macrotransaction.

Now, that would be great, wouldn't it ?
 
Blizzard needs to figure out how to put a price-tag on prestige that doesn't otherwise give an advantage in PvP or raids. It's clear now that Blizzard wants to make it somewhat easy for level-capped players to be more or less equal in power.

Blizzard is already on this track. Maybe in a few patches everybody just gets the best new and shiny items in their mailbox and then they can embark on an epic journey to conquer the plane of shiny ponies?

Wouldn't it be great? A world full of equals!

Lenin's late triumph.
 
I stopped playing WoW just around the time they announced the spellpower "innovation"... or the dual spec feature, can't really remember...

The point is I quit due to some boredom of course but mainly the realization that the game I loved was about to change and, in my opinion, for the worse. A watered down version of itself, almost a parody...

But I'm glad you all like it. Me I stopped railing against the majority when I realized that there were much better games out there that managed to turn a profit although most WoW players like to label them a failure...
 
"This is a race to the bottom. Next MMO will not even teleport you any more when you die (Startrek Online). Then you will argue: "I don't want no teleports when I die!!".

"I'm looking forward when people will tell me: Dying in an MOM is so 2005!"

It's not a race to the bottom to enjoy the quest markers floating over the heads of the NPCs. Did you really enjoy clicking on every NPC in games before WoW to see if there might be a quest available? Remember EQ's daft way of making you retype a phrase the NPC just uttered to get a quest?

That's what I mean about being easy to play. I don't want to fight the interface. I don't want to waste time wandering around looking for something unless I feel like wandering around.

Basically, I don't want to feel frustrated by the game.

I remember the moments that made me quit previous MMOs. In DAoC I was close to the level cap, but lord it was slow going and all you did was pull from the same camp over and over. I remember pulling mobs for 30 minutes or so and seeing my XP bar creep infinitely ahead. Then I made a mistake, died, and the XP loss wiped out my entire half hour of mindless killing. I said enough is enough and never went back.

In City of Heroes I was soloing a warehouse instance and I tried three times to kill the boss. I realized that I had no chance; the instance wasn't balanced properly. That was irritating, but what made me quit was XP loss (or debt as the game called it).

I've never had moments like these in WoW. I've been in numerous instance wipes, but I never felt like the game was wasting my time.
 
"But I'm glad you all like it. Me I stopped railing against the majority when I realized that there were much better games out there that managed to turn a profit although most WoW players like to label them a failure..."

What games are you playing? I'm tired of WoW, but I haven't found a better MMO yet.
 
@Mark

There are plenty of games out there that are excellent and if only people could look past the lack of glitter and some "unpolisheness" they will deliver what we all want: fun.

But of course, if all you like is WoW rather than MMO's but you are just bored with it then all the other games will look like crap regardless of their quality.

WoW is unarguably the most polished game in the market but if you can look past the "unpolishedness" of some games I think you can find lots of good things in them:

- Fallen Earth
- Age of Conan
- DDO
- Vanguard
- Ryzom

And, as many have said before, it's supposed to be a game, not a freaking cult you're joining.

People start playing WoW, play it for 2, 3 years and it's like as any other game after that must be a 3 year commitment or it's crap.

That is rubbish, of course. Just because you played a game for 3 years it doesn't mean that a game is crap if it only entertains you for 6 months as long as you had fun in that time...
 
I understand why we're using this McDonalds example. If McD's is WoW then we could also say BK could be something like EvE and Wendy's EQII? Yeah, these other fastfood restaurants (albeit fast food clones out of necessity) are, or were at one point, fiscally successful but we will ALWAYS use McD's as our jumping off point for comparison. This is because McD's is/was the biggest and most likely always will be for the foreseeable future.

You see it everyday in the fast food business - BK or some other joint will come out with a new sandwich and McD's will quickly come out with a similar one eventually crushing any hope for BK to get out of the shadow of the big dog. As far as I know, BK, Wendy's and other "smaller" fast food joints around the world don't have something fundamentally wrong with their business model. However, they are just trying to grow in the shadow of something bigger and McD's is making this harder and harder every day.

To me, the fast food analogy is okay but not great. I would rather look at Blizzard as WALMART. What does Walmart do? What is their business model? Simply, they move into an underdeveloped town/city and under-price everyone. They already have everything someone might need all in one shopping center, although with some caveats: You want PvE? - "Sure we have it but it's a bit cheap and flimsy." You want PvP? - "Yeah we have that too, but there seems to be quite a bit of broken pieces in that box." How about RPing or a solid story arch? - "Those went out the window a long time ago but we had it once and they just didn't sell well."

Walmart can claim to be the biggest and the "best" simply because they are the biggest! Who is going to put up the fight? The Mom and Pop Hardware Store down the street still only staying alive on the same customers they've been catering towards for 10+ years? I think not!

With that being said, I do not blame Blizzard for their success but I still don't find the need to play WoW anymore after 4+ years of on again off again since vanilla. However, I do still find myself contemplating going back from time to time, and this to me is a bit comical as I truly do loathe the lack of innovation in the game. Now why do I think about coming back? Because it has EVERYTHING and all the other stores (see above) around have since closed or hiked up their prices or changed what they sell to keep up with their giant competitor.

The situation we are in now in the MMO community is a bit disheartening. Any game that's got some hype behind it seems to me a bit of the same old thing with "Idea A" added "just because we have to be innovative." (i.e. - Biowares companion system). I really don't know where the industry goes from here; but until a company with enough capital to stand the test of Blizzards copying, or small and ballsy enough to develop completely in the dark, come out with something truly innovative, I have to assume MMO's will be cut and paste for a long time to come.
 
It is simply wrong to say nobody can compete with Blizzard. People have been competing in markets dominated by one large player since markets began. They do it by niche marketing. You find a segment that isn't satisfied with McDonalds. One too small for McDonalds to worry about trying to keep. What about Mexican food (Taco Bell) or Asian (Happy Wok). What about a little more upscale food like Olive Garden or Red Lobster. Sure they won't ever have the sales of McDonalds but they can live comfortably on McDonalds cast offs.

The same is true of MMORPGs. There are multiple undeserved markets just waiting to be tapped like wild-west PvP or extreme challenge, or even highly story driven MMORPGs (which SWTOR may address). Niche marketing will come to MMORPGs, but either the cost of producing a top notch MMORPG may have to come down to where companies are willing to take a risk on serving a niche market, or companies need to be more willing to take risks. Either way it is inevitable, eventually there will be lots of variety in the MMORPG market with niche players serving segments big players cannot afford to capture. Just as is now the case in the fast food market.
 
Tobold's is mostly correct in this post. But still he is just skimming the surface. The reason this games are the way there are is pretty simple.

Target Demographics, Market Share, Marketing and Business decisions.

When we see a studio step out in front and take the reigns targeting an older demographic we'll get the game we want.

http://www.pinksteamstudios.blogspot.com
 
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