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Posted: Mar 29th 2009 10:38AM (Unverified) said

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No it wasn't "luck"
It had more to do with the fact that Blizzard already had millions of battlenet players worldwide long BEFORE WoW.
Blizzard also has always enjoyed a solid reputation for making high quality games.
Combine that with the MMO genre of 2004 which was full of stale repeats of long and dull grind games like L2, FFXI, SWG (which was all grind at the time) Horizons, CoX (at the time CoX had a very punishing grind) and half a dozen other generic fantasy look alikes and the market was ready to jump on something that was "fun" to play.

Posted: Mar 29th 2009 9:00AM Holgranth said

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THIS. Warcraft was the BEST designed mmo at the time of its release and they have continued to constantly improve upon that and dispite what the naysayers (Usually of the EVE,WAR,DF,Runescape, fanbot gallery) may say THIS AND THIS ALONE IS WHY WARCRAFT IS THE KING.

I've see loads of BS posts (MMOrpg forums, or Forumfall if your REALLY HORDECORE) that its just Warcrafts advertizing or that everyone dose it because thats what their friends do, that if you play WoW you are fat and live in your moms basement ect.

Warcraft's initial sucess is PARTIALLY related to timing, Warcraft 3's popularity ect but the continued long term sucess is because its is a seriously good game put out by a quality Dev.
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Posted: Mar 29th 2009 9:58AM (Unverified) said

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That IS luck, you two. It was lucky of them to launch their game at the time they did when everything else was "stale" (players getting burned out with EQ/whatever) and no other game launch was within a year of WoW. That's called luck.

Think about it, if Tabula Rasa or Hellgate London, Warhammer Online, Vanguard, or any other MMO had launched around the same exact time as WoW then it wouldn't be as "big" as it currently is and would be splitting it's popution with another game or two.

Timing = luck. Period. With the limited Sci-Fi MMOs right now, Stargate Worlds would have/could have gotten a good basis going for them, but LUCK has it that Star Trek Online is releasing around that time and so is The Old Republic. Each has their own "fanbase" but if only one of them were launching then the fanbase of all of them might just touch that one instead of individuals. See my point?

As more and more fantasy MMOs come out with different IPs (Lord of Rings, Warhammer, Conan, Darkfall, ect.), each will gain their own fanbase, whether that's part of WoW's playerbase or not. And that's because at the time of WoW, there were no other fantasy games with those IPs that suited the players want of fantasy MMO gaming.
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Posted: Mar 29th 2009 8:43AM Benicio said

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Timing is everything and Blizzard was the in the perfect position to capitalise as none had before.

Incidentally, I was a WoW Tourist and it took me quite a while to move on from wow and actually enjoy other games for their own offerings.

Posted: Mar 29th 2009 8:49AM SkuzBukit said

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I think WoW's success was a combination of factors, but it didn't hit 11 million overnight, it has built up to that over it's 4year+ lifespan, it started off pretty well though, but it has has more of a "snowball" life than any huge explosion of players.

A combination of Blizzard's past successes with titles such as Starcraft & Diablo1/2 & Warcraft1/2/3 which meant it already had, as a developer, a fanbase of the company & therefore gamer awareness, coupled with an aggressive marketing campaign (something MMO's have historically been weak at) & the cash to back it all up & delivery of a low technical requirement product that also had a lower level of entry needed by way of a simple UI (most MMO had looked almost like flight simulators till WoW with windows & ui pieces all over the shop).

I'd pin it's success on those factors, WoW was a very thorough look at the MMO marketplace that had a deep understanding of "what worked" & what was an annoyance & barrier to entry, system requirements, the game UI, & ease of play being the 3 biggest "game qualities" that sold it to prior non-gamers.

So luck?
No, but repeating that formula is I think a futile exercise, anyone wanting to reach such heady numbers will need a new formula, trying to out-WoW WoW is pointless because WoW was very thorough in what it did by borrowing from all the existing MMO & continuing to do so since, mixing standard MMO fare with pop culture references & will need to build a success out of an initial release, I think Darkfall, for all it's issues, has an interesting release method & something that will be interesting to watch develop.

I think the fantasy MMO space is crowded, I might get proven wrong on that if the in-development fantasy MMO go on to great successes, if I were to predict the "next big thing" I am going to lay odds it will have a far different theme to what went before WoW, maybe sci-fi, maybe horror, maybe steampunk, it would be nice to see a game that could involve several different types of gameplay though, pairing up the character development that hooks many into MMORPG's with other kinds, like puzzle, point 'n click graphic adventure & text based adventures, platformers, first person shooters, racing & fighting games, something that takes all of those together & melds them seamlessly into a world & not in the mini-game way, questing systems have gotten stale becoming shopping lists of kill this deliver that, it needs some expanding into an activity of multiple disciplines.

The next WoW wont be repeating WoW's regurgitating of ideas with fresh clothes on, it will be an innovator seeking to steal WoW's fans by way of it's own merits & word of mouth backed up by a real ad campaign.

Posted: Mar 29th 2009 9:06AM Angelworks said

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What "Syncaine" doesn't realize is there is a new design rule you have to avoid when making an MMO - doubly so if your playerbase has touched WoW at all and your game is similar. And that is - if the player says to themselves "I could be having more fun playing WoW right now" - you are in trouble. Warhammer sadly ran into this I believe. They tried to be like WoW to entice players to switch, but when it felt like a bastardized version of the game they left many switched back. They probably would have done better if they gone their own way and formed a niche in the market, but I'm sure management there wanted a piece of that WoW pie.

Darkfall? Its hard to compare - first of all they won't let people buy it 100% of the time (seriously - I cannot on their website right now). Second - people who have managed to buy it are waiting in 1-4 hour queues to get in to a really really massive world that caps at 4500 people. Anyhow I think the end it will do well as a niche product once they get over their launch problems. The game will be especially popular for former UO players. Still it sounds like a crappy play style - most reviews I've read are people log in - wait for their friends in safe zones so they can venture outside. Usually hardcore pvp games rely on people to grief - and when they stop playing then what?

Was WoW lucky? They were going up against Everquest (see http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/12/27/1748252&mode=flat&tid=127 to get a feel for how SOE treated players), but on the flip side many of the people who designed WoW used to be EQ players - which is certainly radical - I can't think of too many that had any former design experience working on MMO's specifically actually and maybe that was the big difference there.

Posted: Mar 29th 2009 9:09AM (Unverified) said

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I think WoW's success was luck a certain degree. As has been said though, they had many fans from their Warcraft games they published before WoW. WoW is a good game, and continues to be a good game (I don't play it any longer however). That being said, I think too many people always compare ANY MMO to WoW simply because its the biggest. No other MMO will come close to what WoW has. Blizzard is good at their job and markets their games like a juggernaut. That being said, there is ALWAYS room for other MMO's out there. WoW sometimes isn't enough of this or enough of that for some players.
The 11 million that WoW currently has will not be obtained by any other MMO except on that Blizzard publishes. That is just the nature of the beast.
Just because people DON'T play WoW doesn't make them idiots or "people who enjoy to suffer" as in Syncaine's post. I do believe that people have a tendency to look at WoW with rose-coloured glasses at times and do hate on other games for not being WoW enough. Oh well. To each their own.I enjoyed my time in WoW as much as I enjoy my time in WAR currently.

Posted: Mar 29th 2009 9:44AM Jeromai said

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While luck is rather a dismissive sort of word, yes, I do think a great deal of WoW's success is right place-right time-good game factors glomming together. Then afterwards, once numbers hit a critical mass, word of mouth, peer pressure and internet phenomenon turned cultural icon did the rest to keep adding to its population. Worldwide.

WoW had a diku-based MMO structure, supported by ease of entry into the newbie levels, escalating requirements to reach the max level, and a whole bevy of developers who believed in raiding as endgame. One look at that structure and I said, four years. My guess was that the average person would end up sucked into that rat race treadmill for the period of a college education before getting bored and moving on.

However, my best guess was based on people who gamed. Primarily achievement-seekers, hardcore players who would eventually drain dry the content before it was humanly possible to replace it with more, and find more content somewhere else.

Not the other population component of WoW, those attracted by the social draw of an online community. For whatever reason, good marketing combined with pop phenomenon, WoW awareness turned mainstream and it was suddenly cool and acceptable to be seen playing WoW. A number of those people are always going to remain attached to their first online community and not move on, plus others who get tired of it never make the next step into another MMO.

Blizzard did many clever things right. Cartoony cute graphics are a crowd puller - a spectator watching someone else play will go "Hey, what is that? Looks interesting." Enter lead-in to an addictive free trial being dangled on a hook.

The hand-holding and linear level design of the early levels, plus clear UI, make it very straightforward for a true newbie to catch on, and hook themselves in casino-like fashion.

The smoothness of combat and arcade-like response times of skills and spells was a great design decision, well-implemented and not let down by any lag on the side of client or server architecture.

Marketing was fantastic. Never rested on its laurels, and always kept pushing the word WoW into the collective consciousness. Coupled with an already strong fanbase from its Diablo and Warcraft/Starcraft games who supported the lore and would sing its praises as free advertising.

But other factors were luck - in the sense of being in the right place at the right time. The concept of an MMO as fun grind can only pervade world consciousness once. All the social network hooks of "your first MMO" is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

I believe not even Blizzard will be able to recapture those kinds of numbers with a second MMO. With another kind of innovative game and good marketing, no doubt, something as different and yet as easy to pick up as Diablo or Starcraft and complex to master, they can hit those numbers. But an MMO to compete with their own WoW gorilla already on the market? Nah.

There's always a certain subset of people who won't accept change and won't want to leave. That's already a significant drop in percent population. (Unless they pull a clever statistic trick by offering current WoW players a free subscription or copying all existing characters to their new MMO or something.)

Posted: Mar 29th 2009 10:10AM (Unverified) said

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It did benefit from the stars aligning properly at just the right time. I'd day luck does play the biggest factor in its subscriber numbers.

I can't stand WoW now but I'll not take anything away from the game because of that. They would've never sustained such numbers if they didn't put out an awesome game. It's deserving of the top spot.

It does, however, taint everyone's perceptions of every other MMO. Everything else is judged by how WoWish it is. I think that's the only downside. People get comfortable with a certain style and system and they're unwilling to leave their comfort zone and give something else a fair shake.

Posted: Mar 29th 2009 10:12AM Lateris said

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Do you think that World of Warcraft's 11 million players was just a fluke that no other MMO will ever see again - including Blizzard with their next MMO?
-Yes I do. But Blizzard was known for releasing stable products so it also had to do with their reputation.


Was WoW just a product of right-place, right-time? Or do you think that there really is some type of 'magic formula' as it were;
- It was the right time and the right place. I hate to say it but SOE and other MMO companies made it possible for Blizzard to rise up as an MMORPG company since most MMORPG gamers were wanting a game with less bugs and fulfilled promises. But take into account Blizzard had 12 years of online gaming and a great infrastructure within their work culture. To me this is why they have done as well as they have.

more properly will Blizzard - or anyone else - ever be able to repeat that 11 million players number?
- I don't think so in regards to any other company. I think it is possible to reach 1 million subscribers as long as a product is released "finished" and every promise has been fulfilled for release. I think Blizzards next MMO will do well but we can only wait and see.

Posted: Mar 29th 2009 10:46AM (Unverified) said

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I was one of those people who never played a MMO before WoW and never really had interest in this genre. However, I was a huge fan of the Diablo, warcraft (RTS), and Starcraft games Blizz put out. So due to the great rep and my past experiences with there games (and familiarity with the Warcraft RTS) I looked forward to this new game, not really knowing what I was getting myself into... +4 yrs later I'm still playing...

Therefore, from my point of view it had nothing to do with timing, luck, or lack of competition (EQ2 released around the same time). It was solely Blizzard having a very well known reputation for making great games and using a familiar IP. This opened the door to tons of new people who never tried a MMO before, giving this new Blizzard game a go. Not to mention they just simply made a great game which was/is very easy to pickup and get into on top of that.

So it was name recognition (both in company and IP) and great game design. Could it happen again... sure thing, but probably not anytime soon as it would take an established company, well known to make good products (just not in the mmo genre but outside as well) along with a familiar IP to make it happen. The next closest thing to this that I know of would be Star wars the Old republic being done by Bioware. This has the makings of what Blizz did with WoW (Well established IP (even more so then warcraft) and a well known quality company making it in Bioware... We shall see...

Posted: Mar 29th 2009 10:54AM heartlessgamer said

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I think you need to watch Zero Punctuation's review of EVE Online and tell me that EVE and WoW are not the same:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/208-Eve-Online

He makes some good points. But yes, the controls are vastly different and EVE tends to be more virtual world. Past that, they are the same combat-heavy, kill and loot games.

Posted: Mar 29th 2009 11:03AM Krystalle Voecks said

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With all due respect to Yahtzee (who I adore) getting into the game and running missions, etc. is not even beginning to scratch the surface of the actual depth of the game. Corpwar, taking over sov. space, etc. You cannot even begin to liken guilds rushing to complete instance content in each new expansion to things like BoB and the Goons beating the crap out of each other. One is a nifty achievement that is largely forgotten now. The other is an achievement that was dreamed up by the players, implemented in a sandbox world, and will be felt for a very long time to come.

Sorry, but they're not the same in my eyes.
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Posted: Mar 29th 2009 11:35AM (Unverified) said

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Ummm...For one, Yahtzee pretty much hates all MMORPG's (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/9-Tabula-Rasa), so you're not really using the best reference for your argument there. Not only that, but I've actually played both so I don't need to ask Yahtzee. I really don't see how the two games could be more different while still being considered MMORPG's.
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Posted: Mar 30th 2009 5:35AM halfcaptain said

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i'll agree with both Krystalle and Kilawhar. Before you liken EVE to WoW, you should probably actually give EVE a try. Yahztee's review was funny, but was pretty unfair and funny at EVE's expense. The two are pretty much apples and oranges, as far as comparisons go. Actually, more like one really enormous, bland apple to one really complicated, but tasty-ass orange.
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Posted: Mar 29th 2009 11:07AM GRT said

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"Luck" feels a bit strong, because Blizzard beta'd the heck out of the game and released a (for the time) very solid product. They did a lot of things right.

But I do think they launched in a sweet spot in gaming history, and rode MMOs as a "fad" and to that extent, yes they were lucky.

Comparing subscriber numbers to WOW is like a toy maker comparing sales numbers to Tickle Me Elmo. You can't judge success against a fluke.

Posted: Mar 29th 2009 11:18AM (Unverified) said

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As many others have mentioned, luck (in this case, timing) played a huge role in WoW's current market domination of the MMO scene.

Warhammer Online is a game that is significantly better in every aspect than WoW was when it released, and it has no chance of ever even approaching a fifth of WoW's subscriber base because it's entering a market that already has a dominant force which has had years to perfect their product in addition to hundreds of millions in revenue to maintain and improve it.

Smart developers will stop trying to ape WoW's standards of subscriber participation and focus on establishing the 200-400,000 range of consistent subscribers as success.

Posted: Mar 29th 2009 12:11PM (Unverified) said

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Warhammer Online does not appeal to Grandmas, Grandpas and Preteens like WoW does. They could have released it a week or month or year before WoW it would not make a difference.
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Posted: Mar 29th 2009 12:01PM (Unverified) said

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The subject has been of interest for a long time and everytime I read about it, I develop my belief in its success. I think that in hind sight, a part of their success can be seen as luck, but in autumn 2004 we wouldn't have said luck.
I think that blizzard did not, or could not believe the game would explode like this. When it did, whatever they said aside, I think is explained by the quality and innovation of a product launched at the right time.
So is it luck? No, Is it timing Yes, but not only timing.
Had Age of Conan been launched on Nov. 24 2004, it would not have 11M subs. There is also a question of what the product is.

Posted: Mar 29th 2009 11:58AM Dblade said

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Syncaine just doesn't get it though. The reason why WoW exploded wasn't luck, it was taking a hard look at the MMO experience and stripping out a lot of needless timesink and difficulty. Syncaine is a typical hardcore old-school player to whom timesink isn't an issue, in fact it's a draw. What he doesn't realize though is that aspect of MMOs always kept subscriber numbers and cultural influence down.

To use an analogy, MMOs pre-wow were like all those bemani games Konami release. WoW was Guitar Hero.

The problem for other games is that WoW sort of made going back to punishing EQ design a non-issue. You can't expect to be hardcore and be a market leader anymore. In fact, the trend for hardcore games now is to be exclusionary by design, with a PVP focus. And those games will never be market leaders, because a lot of people simply don't like pvp and the drama it brings. EVE will never see much growth for that reason among others.

Anyways, WoW tourists don't ruin anything. FFXI has successfully retained its playerbase despite WoW, and we even attract ex-wow players looking for a better experience, and retain them. If anything, WoW helped ffxi by pointing out the aspects of it that were totally unneccesary, and the devs paring them down made the game a stronger experience.







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