The Daily Grind: What would the MMO world look like without WoW?

    
129

Here’s a fun question from an anonymous Kickstarter donor to kick off the morning:

What do you think the MMO world would look like if Blizzard had made Warcraft 4 as an RTS instead of World of Warcraft? (I think it would affect more than MMOs, myself — RTS titles and MOBAs too!)

Personally, I think that prior to WoW, we were already trending toward larger and larger MMOs that pulled from both the themepark and sandbox ends of the design spectrum. In fact, on yesterday’s podcast, I called it the magic zone, that period of really standout MMORPGs made in the 2003-2005 time block. Without WoW, we might not have made such a sharp left turn into themepark-ville for as long as we have, and I think our genre might have had a much slower — and more sustainable — growth period without the spike and the crashes and burns that followed in WoW’s wake.

I don’t really believe there would have been some other WoW; it was a goldilocks MMO that was “just right” for 2004: in the right place at the right time with the right studio, the right generic but respectable IP, the right tech, and the ideal world-spanning fanbase. The frustration is that but for WoW, MMOs themselves might have been richer in design (if poorer in quantity and profit).

Or maybe not; maybe Facebook was coming for us either way.

Also, my husband would be really happy because he loved Warcraft III more than any sensible person should. Seriously, make Warcraft IV.

What do you think — put aside blind loyalty or hate for a moment. Where would we be without WoW?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
AGx
Guest
AGx

As with anything that has ever gotten too big too fast and has maintained it’s dominance, the world would have been better off without it. Why do I believe this? Because there will always be copycats. Anything that’s even remotely innovative will borrow elements from the juggernaut and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it will get compared to it’s bigger brother and panned because of it. Look at RIFT or SWTOR. Neither are bad games and both were better games at launch than WoW was at launch but because they share so much of what WoW does, they get compared to something that has had years to evolve and are unfairly criticized for not having ALL of that stuff on Day 1. WoW has had 13+ years to develop to the point it is at now (I’m including the original development time in addition to the years of patches and expansions). What new game can spare 13 years to develop while also trying to be modern and not making itself irrelevant by having such a long development cycle? I love WoW but I hate it at the same time.

Craywulf
Guest
Craywulf

We’d likely have 10 years of EverQuest clones. Honestly this is a really hard question because there’s a lot motivating factors involved in the business of MMOs. I am actually grateful for WoW’s existence as it brought a tremendous amount of spotlight with it. I don’t think Ultima Online or EverQuest could’ve brought the amount of spotlight to a broader demographic of gamers. I think MMOs would be struggling to find an audience today and the market would be drastically smaller if not never reached the amount of sales of today. I think First Person Shooters would be abundance and dominate the market.

cald
Guest
cald

A lot better.. we would not have had 10 years of companies trying to copy wow..

eLdritchMD
Guest
eLdritchMD

I also happen to think that if WoW hadn’t been, we’d have seen a more steady growth of the genre, games would have become slightly bigger in budget trying to outdo eachother but I very much doubt we would have seen quite as much of this move to throwaway MMOs. You know, the “overhype – underwhelm – panic – f2p” school of MMO development would have been less prevalent imo.

Tabula Rasa might have worked. WAR might have gotten more time to get the kinks worked out. SWTOR may not have happened with that kind of an insane budget. 

Honestly I think we would have seen very similar games but we would have seen less hype, less empty promises, less of a hectic scramble to make a quick buck on the back of WoW.

eLdritchMD
Guest
eLdritchMD

amkosh nah I don’t think WoW ever got past the “geeky” stage. Non gamers still very much look at WoW in a similar way to how people looked at D&D 20 years ago. It’s geeky and weird and played by smelly shut ins. Sure it has more mainstream market recognition and people at least know what it is and don’t think it’s some kind of satan worship but if you tell some random non gamer that you play WoW, the only difference to their reaction if you said you play EverQuest is that they will get a knowing look and say “ooooh right” heavily implying “so you’re one of those fat losers I saw on South Park”.

If you want to talk about games that brought gaming into the mainstream, look at things like CoD, Halo, Farmville and Candy Crush.

StClair
Guest
StClair

wjowski Cyclone Jack And the rise of mobile et al, and the “need” for games to be consumed in chunks of a half hour or less, is going to come along with or without it.

StClair
Guest
StClair

wjowski rlloyd3 Word.  As much as I loved CoH, and still do, it was never going to be that.  (Which is part of why I loved it – because it was different than all the rest.  Yeah, I’m a hipster in brightly-colored tights.)

EpicZinx
Guest
EpicZinx

DPandaren If they had made Warcraft 4 instead of WoW, it could have effected MOBAs since it would have eclipsed WC3.  It is interesting since Dota came out in 2003 before Frozen Throne came out.  So a WC4 could have effected MOBAs.

It is also interesting to think that Blizzard North (Diablo) had their employee exodus and then shutdown around the time WoW was released.  And that the founders there went on to create Torchlight as Runic Games.  So there are so many things that could have been effected if WoW had not been made.

amkosh
Guest
amkosh

I think that without WoW, or some other break out seller, the MMO market would be a shadow of what it is now.  Before WoW, MMOs were made the relative profit was actually quite low.  They were made because they got a bit of recurring revenue on titles, where they did not before.  WoW did: 

– Redefined from a business perspective what success can look like which basically started a big money flow into the genre.  
– Jump started  the marketing engine of many games both MMO and non MMO.  Seriously, WoW’s pop culture status is incredible.  It made playing games mainstream. The intangible benefit is extreme.

Without WoW the game industry would not be where it is.

Denngar
Guest
Denngar

I’m with Bree on this. We were already seeing a bit more of the themepark stuff before. Asheron’s Call 2 had quest tracking, dailies/weeklies, and quest indicators well before WoW. The difference was that they were used sparingly and weren’t a substitute for great lore, monthly updates, and GM interaction/events. When people started going down the highly instanced, ‘one-bite’ content path where developers churn out highly structured linear content, we as a genre crashed faster and harder than we probably should have. 

Though I think the current path we’re on was inevitable, I think we’d be less fractured if everyone and their grandmother had been pumping out MMOs and pulling basically the same players in 12 directions at once.