If you’re setting out to make a successful MMO, I imagine that there’s one undercurrent of thought running throughout the entire design phase: be like World of Warcraft. It seems like a sound plan, seeing as how that game pumps out more golden Ferraris than a Twilight movie release, but it may backfire on you sooner than you think.
According to Blizzard Lead Producer Shane Dabiri, more WoW clones are not what MMORPG fans want right now. While he says that Blizzard finds it flattering that so many companies want to emulate their success with World of Warcraft (imitation is the most sincere form of adulation, after all), trying to pull the same maneuvers may not lead to the big hit that most developers hope for.
He goes on to say that people who have invested a lot of time in Warcraft don’t want to do the same things in a different game. As a Warcraft player myself, I couldn’t agree more. Before I moved over to Blizzard’s digital demolisher I used to play Star Wars Galaxies, which, while it had its problems, was a fairly unique and engaging game. All that changed when the development team took a look at Warcraft and said “we need to do that!”
Soon after that all the hybrid classes were gone, the economy got thrown out the window and Jedi ran all over the place like a herd of ill-disciplined children. Star Wars Galaxies tried so hard to be World of Warcraft but fell so far short it was almost embarrassing. Game after game has bowed to the mighty MMO, but there are few titles on the horizon that may challenge the market by being different. The upcoming Star Wars MMO by BioWare is my current favorite to at least show some decent competition, but I can’t pretend that DC Online isn’t making a strong bid either.
What do you guys think? Has World of Warcraft ruined the MMO scene, or will future MMOs learn a lesson and try something new?