So, like probably everyone else, I’m playing Starcraft 2.
And, like probably every other WoW guild out there, people are drying up at a phenomenal rate.
I’m left to wonder, is the only thing that can steal playtime away from WoW, another Blizzard game? Well, to be fair you see this quite often when a new, quality triple A game on the PC is released. Usually it’s a Bioware game stealing some of the thunder – Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age… this time, it’s a Blizzard game, and Starcraft 2 is, with little doubt in my mind, going to cause a pretty sharp drop in WoW players online concurrently for quite some time. Depending how many of them embrace online play, the drop may be more permanent and significant.
The biggest threat, then, to World of Warcraft seems to me won’t necessarily be another MMO, but simply another quality multiplayer PC game. And very specifically, Diablo 3. D3 will offer much of the simple pick up and play co-operative gameplay that WoW offers in it’s current badge-farming heroic intancing, which I’d guess makes up a good bulk of what people do in the game at the level cap. Sure raiding happens too, but is it the real focus of WoW gamers? Most of us spend more time gearing for raids than actually raiding. And, sure, PVP is a fun enough distraction, but BG’s are something to do in short bursts, and arenas are the domain of a very small minority of WoW’s subscriber base.
Personally I think Starcraft 2 might offer superior PVP multiplayer gameplay within a ‘massive’ environment, and Diablo3 will scratch the itch that the other half has, in co-operative dungeon crawling. As much as Blizzard mentions it doesn’t see SC2 and D3 as competition to WoW… I really think they are.
How does starcraft 2 itself play, I might hear you ask. My initial impressions are highly favourable. This game exudes polish in a quantity I don’t think I have seen before. The closest would be to liken it to Mass Effect 2 in terms of sheer quality of design. The engine itself is spectacular, the gameplay is classic Starcraft, and the higher focus on exposition and storyline between missions is superb. Hard to say if this is the best game ever, I don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s damn near. If you have a PC, this is simply a must buy, whether you’re an RTS fan or not so much.