Wednesday, August 28, 2013

World of Warcraft will never be killed

Every year mmorpg gamers await the next "WoW Killer," the fabled game that will finally destroy World of Warcraft and cause it to lose the entirety of its player base.

If you are smart, you would know that this will never happen. That is right, never. You will never see an mmo that will kill WoW, and you will never see an mmo that will match WoW's success in our lifetimes.

I have been playing mmorpgs for years. I started with Runescape, then moved on to WoW, played that for years, quit, dabbled in several other mmos, and then came back to WoW. Nowadays, I am a completely casual player and have no desire to raid on a schedule or treat the game like a job. That is for people far crazier and obsessed with the game than I am.

I like to log in, level up an alt a few times, do a bit of crafting, go run an old instance, etc. WoW allows me to do all of these things, and in a manner that is not stressful in the least.

"But," you may say, "plenty of other games offer a great casual online experience!" And you would be right! Guild Wars 2, Star Wars The Old Republic, and Rift are all other mmos that offer a great casual experience.

The problem? Guild Wars 2, as well as the other mmos I listed, lack any interesting lore (the exception perhaps being The Old Republic, but that game has its own horrible issues). At best, it feels ripped off from WoW, at worst, it feels like I am running around a pretty world with pretty objects and landscapes that have absolutely no meaning. WoW does not suffer from this problem because it has years and years of lore backing it up, starting with the Warcraft rpgs.

There is so much interesting lore in WoW that it is fun to run old instances or do old quests at level 90 to experience the story. Indeed, I've often found myself flying around and visiting interesting locations like Icecrown Citadel or the Dark Portal for the sole reason that I can.

Guild Wars 2, at least for me, offers none of that. Even when WoW's lore becomes poor, Blizzard's writers are still talented enough to where they are able to create interesting characters and dialogue that keeps you engaged with the storyline.

Even a character that has long since been killed lore-wise, The Lich King, is still far more recognizable to most people than any boss or villain figure that has been presented in other mmos. And at level 90, you can even go back and kill him by yourself if you have decent enough gear, which means that endgame content in WoW is not limited to what Blizzard is currently pumping out.

Indeed, one of my favorite things about WoW is that you can take your max level character and revisit old lore-heavy raids like The Black Temple of Icecrown Citadel on your own. Not only do you make a decent amount of gold by doing this, but you get to experience the epic story you may have missed when it was current content and you could not get a group together to raid it.

This is a great feature of WoW for casual players like myself. The amount of lower level instances you can solo at level 90 is astounding, and its almost like you have two games to play if you so choose: the endgame level 90 stuff, or all of the content before level 90 that you never got a chance to truly experience.

That brings me to the next subject. WoW has way too much content at this point for any MMO to beat it in that aspect. That is why mmos like Guild Wars 2 and SWTOR fail. They try to emulate WoW to steal its success, but of course that will never work because there is no way any development team has enough resources and time to create a game that has more content than WoW right on day one of release.

That is why droves of people leave many newly released mmos once they hit max level. Simply put, there is no more content and so they go back to WoW. That is not to say that WoW does not have its own issues in terms of endgame content. But usually Blizzard is the best in the industry with providing players with a near endless amount of things to do, be that in the form of daily quests, scenarios, challenge modes, heroic dungeons, raids, or battlegrounds. Plus, as I stated earlier, there is ALL of the content before level 90 from previous expansions if you wish to take part in it.

The bottom line is that if you want to play a game that is like World of Warcraft, you might as well play World of Warcraft. This is the conclusion that countless gamers like myself have come to time and time again. Why pour so much time and resources into an mmo that tries to copy the best, when you can play the best? That is why, if WoW is ever to get any real competition, it has to come from a game that does things entirely differently.

WoW has the WoW formula down too well. Everything about it is buttery smooth. The lore is interesting, and there is a million metric tons of content. For an mmo to beat something like that, it has to do something that makes gamers feel like WoW is obsolete. Something that totally re-imagines what an mmo can be, or what an mmo even is.

Until that day, facsimiles of WoW will continue to fail, no matter how much I wish that they would not (I was really pulling for SWTOR for a while due to my love of the KOTOR series).

There are some promising contenders on the horizon, namely The Elder Scrolls online, Everquest 2, and Wildstar. Still, they will have to be amazing and then some to topple World of Warcraft, else they will join the ever-growing pile of mmos that were touted day and night by rabid fanboys to be the next WoW Killer.

1 comment:

  1. when it comes to free games, i always look for free flash games because they have small file sizes..


About The Author

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Nicholas Garcia (M.A.) is a PhD Candidate at the University of California, Davis. He is also a Co-Founder of the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies. Previously, he contributed to and the Davis Humanities Institute.