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


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!
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