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Reader Comments (53)

Posted: Nov 12th 2009 3:37PM breezer said

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You are a ROCK STAR for writing this!

Thank you for officially voicing what massively commentators have been saying for ages: WoW clones do nothing but stagnate the MMO market. We don't want them!!


Posted: Nov 13th 2009 8:56AM Snichy said

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I agree, but only until recently.

I was getting bored of Warcraft and wanted something exactly like WoW but wasnt WoW to enable me to get into it easier, so I bought Aion. Big mistake! Not a bad game but just proved to me that I wanted something different from an MMO and not the same old stuff.
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Posted: Nov 17th 2009 1:55PM (Unverified) said

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There are a lot of similarities between the current MMO market and the card game market of the mid-90s. One game makes a ton of money (Magic) and suddenly everybody wants to take them on and make a product of their own. Unfortunately, half of these products are just clones of the original and the other half are just bad games. The only card game besides Magic that survived the TCG glut was Legend of the Five Rings, because it didn't try to be a Magic clone and carved out its own unique niche.

MMO makers need to realize that they're not going to beat WoW by trying to be WoW. A day may come when a non-Blizzard game takes the top spot, but it's going to be because the game is innovative and actually good. That's how WoW dethroned Everquest, after all.
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Posted: Nov 12th 2009 3:43PM Nef said

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It's easy to understand why producers/developers copy WoW, WoW = big profit, and it's a fairly straightforward, simple MMO. There's no need to throw extra cash into research or innovation, just plop a clone out there and rake in some money. This is a business, after all.

Major producers look for the next big hit, the next big cash cow, and games that tend to feature 'innovation' or radically different ideas tend to be niche -- not something they really want. Just looking at a couple MMOs that launched recently, Aion and CO, you can see their 'WoW' and traditional MMO influences clearly -- go to zone X, gather quests, finish them (with plenty of hot key mashing), repeat. They were looking for some profits with their similarities.

Innovation is going to be needed, if the genre is to grow, and is hopefully coming in SW:TOR, STO, etc.

Posted: Nov 12th 2009 3:47PM archipelagos said

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I don't think that people are trying to build a "better Warcraft" they're simply trying to (explicitly) lure some of WoW's audience over. It's akin to every other medium where there is a massive hit. How many film studios tried to copy Star Wars over the years? How many record labels tried to get a piece of the Boy Band phase of the 90's? How many publishing houses will search for the next Twilight-flavoured book? None of what's happening in the MMO genre is particularly surprising in regards to WoW; when something makes a phenomenal amount of money everyone will try to get in on that and it will often be by the cheapest (and quickest) methods possible.

Posted: Nov 12th 2009 4:00PM (Unverified) said

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"Don't believe you are making WoW 2.0 with a quarter of WoW's budget" -- Jeff Strain
http://www.guildwars.com/events/tradeshows/gc2007/gcspeech.php

Posted: Nov 12th 2009 4:09PM (Unverified) said

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I felt that I should pipe up and point to Atlantica for another example of the whole turn based strategy...for a F2P, they took a really bold step as far as the combat goes. In my opinion it worked out pretty nicely.

Posted: Nov 12th 2009 4:06PM (Unverified) said

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I can see your point. But it also makes sense to me that if you were the brains behind Horizo-^H^H^H^H^H^H Istaria, you'd want to stick to a safer formula. A lot of the recent failures (WAR, Aion, CO) are going to teach people a lesson, but I do think there's some lag time before they really react. We'll get there.

Posted: Nov 12th 2009 4:08PM Pingles said

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Don't know if I agree.

WoW is a great game with a few reasons why I don't play any more. If they were to add/change the things I don't like I'd be back in a second.

I see the value in a WoW with some changes.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE games that are different and keep looking for an MMO to be different enough to intrigue me.

But I also see the attraction of WoW++.

Posted: Nov 12th 2009 4:26PM Snow Leopard said

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I don’t feel the problem is the allure of WoW. It’s a great game, a great mmo, and the real deal. That being said, there’s no real reason to try any game out that that tries to so closely replicate Blizzard’s formula for success. They were the one’s that created this style of the extremely accessible fantasy mmo and they’ve continued to perfect it with each batch of content. You can’t compete with them on that level and maybe you really shouldn’t. Instead, mmo developers should aim to make games that draw from different inspirations and aim for different goals.

Bioware’s TOR, a sci-fi mmo that seeks to envelope its players in a storyline they can actively manipulate, is one such example of the fresh approach that needs to take place. They may pull away a lot of mmo players from WoW and they may not, but I feel more than anything, they’re going to pull a lot of gamers to the mmo genre just like WoW did before it.
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Posted: Nov 12th 2009 9:20PM (Unverified) said

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"I see the value in a WoW with some changes."

Oh, for sure, and a "WoW with some changes" is going to make a lot of money for someone. That "someone" is Blizzard, and the "WoW with some changes" is patch 3.3 of WoW, followed by WoW:Cataclysm.

Nobody is in a better position to make changes to WoW than Blizzard. No point even trying to beat them at that game.
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Posted: Nov 12th 2009 4:16PM (Unverified) said

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Another problem is that a lot of players that come from wow are whining around if the new game they're trying out doesn't have the stuff wow has.
One thing I often encounter is the 'hide helmet' option. Which I really hate...
Tabula Rasa initially didn't have one but pressure/request from players led to such an option being implemented.
So it's kind of understandable that devs are trying to copy these elements from wow.

Posted: Nov 12th 2009 4:17PM Berzerk said

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The same thing is happening in MMOs as what happened in RTS games in the recent past. Everything copied C&C, but was never quite as good. It is only recently that they've broken the cycle.

MMOs seem to be following that path, just a lot faster, as the sheer amount of money to get one going and then sustain it causes much faster churn.

Posted: Nov 12th 2009 4:29PM Celestian said

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Sigh, when are we going to get some real discussions.

WoW clones? Could you possibly stop being a sheep like everyone else chanting this?

I'm sick of people claiming every new game is a WoW clone when they clearly are not. How many times have WoW dead heads said Aion was a wow clone? Warhammer was suppose to be as well...anyone with half a brain knows the proper answer to that.

...Instead we have people like this weirdo blathering on, how woe is us how we get no games with innovation when what the gamers want is something fun.

Innovation doesn't make a fun game. WoW is hardly innovative but it's fun for a lot of people.

We don't need a huge amount of innovation, we need developers that are more interested in making a fun game instead of stretching out gameplay to try and just keep you paying a monthly fee.

Posted: Nov 12th 2009 4:31PM (Unverified) said

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The thing with Alganon is not just the UI but the art direction as well reminds me so much of WoW! I can forgive a WoW-copied, simple UI very easily, but when I have to start at screenshots and say "is this from WoW?" then there's a problem. I mean, Blizzard came up with such a unique look and feel starting with Warcraft III that anything that comes as close to copying it as Alganon is an obvious rip-off.

One other point for MMO developers: remember that WoW wasn't the beginning of MMOs. WoW is the crowning achievement of an era - the logical point of refinement and polish for MMOs of the past decade. In other words, you don't build a better WoW, Blizz did what it does best and it's very hard to improve upon that. What you need to do is innovate horizontally, not vertically. Branch out, don't copy. As someone quoted above, you're not going to make a better WoW with 10% of WoW's budget and being 5 years behind in content.

Posted: Nov 12th 2009 4:42PM LaughingTarget said

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Developers are still trying to figure out the MMO market mechanics. It isn't as simple as in the single player realm where a game can simply be dumped out as a clone of another game. Single player games can be finished and players want to move on to another experience. Clones work well for this. When it comes to MMOs, which are not meant to be finished, the cloning aspect just doesn't function too well.

For an MMO to be successful anymore, it'll have to effectively siphon off players from WoW. Because of the market's subscription model and time input requirements, most players can't justify more than one MMO like they can justify more than one FPS or single player RPG. Comparisons to WoW are highly important because, let's face it, if players are only going to play one MMO, it had better be drastically better than World of Warcraft. Even slightly better won't merit a purchase, mainly because players have to start over again from level 1, negating any minor gameplay improvements.

We can assume that players in the Western nations that are interested in playing a MMO is capped at around 14 million. It's unlikely a MMO will come along and drastically grow new customers at this point. Those 14 million are your potential customers and developers will have to compete with other companies as direct substitutes, not co-purchased products. To do this, developers will have to create a game that WoW players can justify permanently dropping the Warcraft World for something else, not quick forays into clone lands like WAR then return to the game they've sunk years of their life into.

Cloning is a valid tactic, but just not for the MMO market, and companies will eventually figure this out. MMOs aren't for the faint of heart and is the riskiest business model of them all (hence the incredible returns should the game make it big). Since developers have to create the game to literally steal customers away from Blizzard, most are probably better off not trying, especially if WoW is being used as a boiler plate.

Posted: Nov 12th 2009 4:48PM Randomessa said

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There is a segment of the MMO audience, perhaps not as large as MMO developers think we are, who AREN'T looking for something THAT different, but who still aren't interested in playing WoW (either we never liked it, or we've left it, etc.). People like those of us waiting on Guild Wars 2 - we have a year to kill, after all, and might not want to spend it in GW1. People who are NOT looking for a sci-fi MMO, or an FPSMMO, or a superhero MMO, or a post-apocalyptic MMO.

It is possible to be searching for a fantasy genre, quest-based MMO with new content that is NOT WoW and still find the current selections of games unsatisfactory for some reason or another. I fear we are few and are merely being curmudgeonly, and I fear that MMO developers think we are some huge horde to be won over. In truth, each game probably only wins over a small, straggling amount. The rest of us wander on and moan on forums and blogs and hitch our star to something else in the meantime.

After all, GW2/FFXVI/Heroes of Telara/Blade and Soul/fill-in-the-game here are just around the corner, and that might be "the one"....

Posted: Nov 12th 2009 4:52PM Nadril said

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To be honest I can see a lot of what the Algalon developer is trying to say, and I agree with some of it.

The biggest point I have to agree on is the idea of cherry picking ideas from WoW and then ignoring other aspects / ideas of the game. WoW is successful because of ALL of these elements in it, and a lot of companies don't get this. They try and sort of half-pick ideas behind WoW and then totally butcher is up. It's like if you're trying to copy a recipe, except that in the last step instead of adding the 6oz milk you add like mountain dew or something. All of these elements in WoW are not all great ideas separately, but they are together.

Now I agree it is always welcome to see new ideas. However the issue is when developers try and come up with new ideas they really need to just try and... ignore WoW. Once you start cherry picking bits from it's recipe before you know it you're going to have some monstrosity no one is going to want to play. I'm not saying make some foreign UI, or make certain elements of the game completely unrecognizable. However if you are trying to be unique or different, try and be unique and different. And I should say that DOESN'T mean just grab a bunch of features from UO and call it a revolution either.

Posted: Nov 12th 2009 4:55PM (Unverified) said

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I think it's impossible to reproduce WoW's success nowadays. They had a great license a great reputation and a great timing. While i would certainly play a game that is "just like WoW but better" I don't think there will ever be one.

This does not mean that developers shouldn't learn from WoW or adapt certain features (Blizzard does it all the time with other games) but they need to find their own approach to the genre be it in terms of gameplay or business model. You can't win a race against someone who startet 5 years ago but if you turn in a different direction maybe in a few years you are the one everyone else tries to catch up with.

Posted: Nov 12th 2009 5:15PM Tom in VA said

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If Alganon had been a "WoW clone" but tweaked in certain meaningful and creative new ways, I'd have been more interested in it.

In a way, I guess, that's precisely what Alganon is attempting to do -- except that their particular tweaks on the WoW formula (such as the "studies" system) don't interest me very much at all.

Now, if somebody were to come up with a ...

(i) a WoW clone that offered greater solo friendliness than WoW (with scaled instances or the option of using NPC assistance in instances [like the Heroes in Guild Wars, for example]) or ...

(ii) a WoW clone that had a lower subscription rate than WoW or ...

(a) a WoW clone that had a better LFG system than WoW currently has or ...

(iv) a WoW clone with a sci-fi theme...

THEN maybe I'd have been interested---assuming, of course, they got the cloning part done well and right. As it is, I dunno. In my opinion, Alganon's chief weakness is not its similarity to WoW, but the fact that it does not add enough distinctive features of its own to make the game appealing.

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