This might enrage some, but it’s an uncomfortable truth. The above list encapsulates some market-leading brands within their sectors, and Blizzard obviously dominates the MMO sector. Now, there have been many arguments as to why. Some believe that WoW was simply a case of, right place, right time. That’s unlikely, since Everquest had the MMO market pretty much sewn up tight at the time, and along came upstart Blizzard beating them at their own PVE-Grind based game.
No, the truth is much, much simpler. Quality. An absolute, uncompromising focus on quality. And budget. Blizzard was convinced in the superiority of their product. They were confident it would do very, very well, and were willing to invest in that confidence.
Enter today’s entrants into the subscriptions based MMO market. A quick, cursory glance at them will affirm one thing. Most rush unfinished games out the door, and they’re intimidated and unsure of themselves in dealing with the resident 800 pound gorilla.
This needs to change. Everywhere I’ve been reading that the MMO genre needs to branch out, innovate, diversify. I disagree, to an extent. Someone needs to step up to the bat and make a real effort to beat Blizzard at it’s own game. That doesn’t necessarily mean duplicating WoW’s gameplay formula. It means duplicating, bettering their focus on Quality, and developing their confidence. It means creating something so awesome that you’re sure it may unseat the reigning king. It means not compromising, not being happy piddling about in second place. “Winners go home and **** the prom queen”, to borrow a Connery quote.
Small, indie niche games can live quite comfortably in the shadow of the behemoth. In fact, that’s exactly what they’ve been doing. But sooner or later we need a true contender to the throne, lest we be swarmed with shoestring budget backyard MMO’s that make no impact exactly because of their miniscule imprint within the genre. Something huge and cool needs to shake up this genre. We don’t need a dozen more tiny games squabbling for table scraps. It lowers the standards of the entire genre as a whole, where trying to build a better WoW raises it. It’s like building tin shacks around a mansion; soon the entire neighbourhood’s real estate value’s gone down the shitter.
We need to take a long, hard look at the status quo and seriously evaluate the accepted notion that WoW is hurting the MMO genre. Is it really? Are you truly fine with paying the same monthly fee for something that doesn’t offer the same quality, quantity, and polish? Whether or not you enjoy WoW’s formula of PVE grinding, that’s not the issue. The issue is, if you’re going to do something, do it right. Too long we’ve accepted sub-par products because we as consumers have adopted the same defeatist attitude as the ones trying to sell their second-bests.
I say, no more. Consider how great WAR could have been had it had the backing it needed from EA instead of being rushed out nowhere near being ready, and then punished for performing poorly as a direct result. I mean, the first thing EA did was fire Q&A staff. Really? Really. Talk about Not Doing It Right.
Time to roll with the big dogs, people.
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