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Fanboys

April 15, 2008

Last night as I was playing The MMO That Shall Not Be Named, I was catching up on some various podcasts and happened to be listening to an episode of WoW Radio’s Gnome SPEED Considered. In it, the podcasters were jawing back and forth about the current 2.4 patch and the upcoming WoW expansion — and as they were talking, they were doing some pretty strange things. Depending on the moment, they were either condemning Blizzard for the gear reset or praising them, growing bored with the content or excited about it, and (most hilarious to me) worried about WAR and dismissing WAR’s arrival on the MMO scene.

Now, I have no illusions that hardcore WoW players will stick with their game of choice, even if WAR happens to be truly excellent. Nobody expects WAR to topple Warcraft and replace it as king. WoW skews to the more generic, jack-of-all-trades MMO approach, and WAR leans to the more niche, with RvR in its pocket.

But to hear these guys talking, you’d think WAR, at worst, will be a very minor speed bump in the road to Blizzard’s worldwide domination. “The question isn’t whether people will leave to try Warhammer,” one guy was saying, “But how soon they’ll be crawling back to Warcraft.” They go on to belittle WAR as a PvP-only game that caters to the hardcore PKers out there, and that’s when I hit the stop button on the player.

Ugh.

This, to me, is blind arrogance, the hallmark of a die hard fanboy. I know you and I haven’t known each other long, but hopefully you’ve figured out that I’m not above trying different games, looking hard at flaws in games I do like, and trying to strive for a balanced view when it comes to these things. As much as I’ve played and genuinely liked WoW over the past four years, I have to say that to dismiss WAR as an upcoming credible, viable force in the MMO market is plain stupid. Last year, LOTRO came out and seized a serious chunk of players, many from the WoW folds — perhaps the most players joining up with a new AAA-title MMO since WoW itself released. And I’m pretty sure a lot of those players haven’t yet wanted to “crawl back” to Mother Warcraft’s teats.

It’s now a year later, and we’re closing in on a year and a half since the last WoW expansion. For all of the acclaim of their once-every-four-months patches, Blizzard is simply not releasing new content fast enough, and people are growing bored and restless. There’s a general malaise surrounding Lich King; yeah, a lot of people want to try it because it’s new content, but it’s not innovative, from what we can tell. With two hefty titles coming out in the next six months, WoW players have a choice between more of the same, or a brand new bite.

Make no mistake — even with an expansion, WoW will take a subscriber hit this year. There’s a decent chance Conan might be a sleeper hit, and a better chance that a fully polished and intensely fun Warhammer could do far better than anyone expects, even Mythic. What a lot of people are banking on is that this will be the year of the changing of the guard: one shall rise, one shall fall (in subscriber numbers).

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4 comments

  1. I’m not going to defend WoW, because it has so many issues with it, that there is no way to defend it other than say that they’ve raked in a lot of money. But at the same time, I haven’t seen one MMO that will come close to drawing that type of audience, and I don’t think WAR will be that game that gets up there. WAR is going to be under so much scrutiny, with all the hype and delays that they’ve had, that it is impossible for WAR to live up to those standards, and so for the most part, it’s failed already. This doesn’t mean it can’t be good, or even great, but that the hype and delays have caused it to reach a status that no game could live up to. Remember that WoW has had years to build up it’s numbers, and if you released WoW today based on what they originally released, it would be a failure. In fact, I don’t think any new MMO release will ever be successful in coming near WoW, only because the level of content and fighting the hype will be near impossible. I think players should play a game that they simply enjoy, and stop paying to play when it’s no longer fun. My WoW account expired today, simply because it wasn’t fun. The content had run out for me, and I just came back to the game from pre-TBC at patch 2.3. So in the span from 2.3 to 2.4, I had went from 1 to 70, got an epic mount, geared up all in epics, and went through a lot of the content. Game was no longer any fun or had any appeal. WAR’s only advantage is that it’s RvR might keep people paying each month, simply because RvR is endless content, although if the combat mechanics are bad themselves, that will make people not want to play, and I’ve heard a lot of bad about WAR’s combat gaming mechanics and not a lot of good. Currently in EVE Online, and while not popular, it continues to grow, and it’s a rather unique MMO that I think has taken the right path in keeping players in the game.


  2. I don’t think Syp is trying to assert that WAR will topple WoW, but simply that he is disgusted that people are dismissing WAR out of hand because of blind fanboy-ism (or fangirl-ism, as the case may be). I too, have grown restless in WoW, and look forward to WAR. I’m not blind to WoW’s faults, while these podcasters, by Syp’s account, seem to be in their own world where WoW is perfect and WotLK will cure world hunger.


  3. Scythe: I completely agree that WAR will rely on the endless variety of RvR conflict to retain subscribers. I also agree that unless the combat mechanics are good (i.e. they support RvR conflict that a large number of players enjoy) the game will fail. However, at this point in time, it seems way too early to tell whether or not (at the time of release) WAR will have good combat mechanics.

    Additionally, if WAR does have good combat mechanics that lead to enjoyable RvR conflict, then it seems very likely that WAR will retain a good number of players for a significant period of time and make a dent in WoW’s subscription numbers. Ultimately, only time will tell.


  4. I think my point is that WAR has already “failed” in the eyes of many because no new game at release can live up to a game that has been around for years, has as large of a player base as WoW, and has had so much hype surrounding it. So in the eyes of the type of brainless zombies that make up corporate suits, and the same type that are fanboi’s of WoW, WAR has already failed, even before it came out.

    This isn’t to say WAR won’t be good, my hopes are high, but no new games on a massive scale, is as good at release as it will be a year or two later. So you can’t judge WAR against WoW at release, because of all the time WoW has had to mature and grow it’s player base. Just WAR at launch against what WoW was at launch. Judge WAR two years from now to WoW after two years.

    But to the type of people Syp describes, WAR has failed, because they don’t understand the concepts that go behind the development of an MMO and that these games always get better with time. I wish you could play WoW 1.0 again, because I remember how bad things were. Most players don’t. And any one who hasn’t gotten tired of the WoW theme park either hasn’t been playing for long, or is braindead enough that a crumpled up piece of paper would be hours of entertainment.

    My cat loves a crumpled up piece of paper to play with, but it’s only minutes of entertainment for him.



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