We relish informed opinion pieces here at Massively. That's what the professional site gamesindustry.biz
is serving up for us, in the form of an editorial by site founder Rob Fahey
. He tackles a subject we've looked at ourselves fairly often
in the last few weeks: the nature of World of Warcraft
's dominion, how long it can last, and whether challenging WoW
is even worthwhile.
As well as running down the recent challengers to WoW,
Rob makes two extremely simple points
. Firstly, WoW
is successful not just because it's good now, but because millions of players have invested in it over time and built up inertia. It's not just the mass of an MMO, but the velocity that counts.
Secondly, given the tremendous inertia, he argues that competing with WoW
would be suicide. Games companies would be better advised to seek virgin territory, and 'avoid WoW's market like the plague'.
Rob clearly has a high opinion of WoW,
which he describes as 'the most polished and perfectly balanced MMOG ever created, regardless of what a small but vocal band of snooty naysayers may argue
Comparing Rob's comments with Paul Barnett's
and Marc Jacobs
' was irresistible. Jacobs in particular sees WoW'
s lengthening lifespan as a potential reason for the players to jump ship, rather than a reason to stay on board. The inertia of a moving object can flatten you if you try to stand in front of it, but as Neal Stephenson pointed out in his novel Snowcrash
, inertia can also be hijacked.
The inertia in WoW
isn't necessarily anchored to the game. When guildmates play together, a momentum develops that isn't necessarily tied to the game at all. As Rob himself points out, WoW
won't have anything to worry about unless whole guilds leave en masse; but what might need adding is that this does happen
, and has happened with other games. Age of Conan
, for example, has undoubedly suffered from guilds deciding to leave as guilds
, and not just as every man for himself. Similarly, when guild members hear that other guildies are investing time and money in a new game, there's far more incentive for them to join, too.
Peer pressure: it's not just for the bad things in life.