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Default Age of Conan - 700,000 and Growing

August 6th, 2008, 15:57
I believe you are right Hedek, it's gone from "innovative and refreshing" to choking the market. It's very, very hard for competitors to challenge WoW at this point - everything that gets released is compared to WoW, which has been evolving for years now.

At some point, it will lose to some new game, but I wouldn't be surprised if that new game was a new MMO from Blizzard.

I'm playing WoW, along with several other MMOs myself, and it really is brilliant as far as MMOs go, but it's not as far ahead as some seem to think. However, that changes little as long as Blizzard keeps earning monthly fees from 10,9 millions, and nr. 2 on that list has 700.000 - they can afford to do whatever it takes (development, marketing, etc) to keep the monopoly.

Personally, I am still hoping AoC will become a serious competitor, as competition forces companies to do their best. I do not consider it likely, though.
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August 6th, 2008, 23:53
I haven't played much mmos so what i'm saying is based on my own speculations or the rumours i've heard.

Anyhow most of the mmos that are released even today seem to be buggier than WoW when it was released, not to mention what it is today. What I've also heard is that the WoW's performance has been ok since the game release. Futhermore other mmos suffer nine times out of ten from a chaotic user interface, horrible game balance etc. Atleast that is what a friend of mine says whose been playing all kinds of mmos ten years or so. Currently he is only playing WoW as it is simply the most polished mmo out there and the most fun too.

So if I can understand this wow phenomenon correctly, blizzard simply does all those small things perfectly in contrast to other mmo companies. Maybe the competors should be paying more attention on the techinal quality of their games. And no doubt wow is a very fun game too. Easy to learn and hard to master. I'm not sure how drasticly it stands out other mmos since my experience is very limited, but a personal experience of mine is that usually most addictive games are easy to jump in and difficult to master. Atleast thats what online fps games like quake, cs, jk2 and ET have in common.
Last edited by Dez; August 7th, 2008 at 06:55.
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August 7th, 2008, 00:38
considering the game should be in beta still, the developers are probably really happy.
with warhammer online coming out september 18, i think they really will have to struggle to survive.
the game has potential, but in the current state it is in, its actually horrible. bugs galore, basicly no items, instance bosses without loot tables just to name a few.
there was a newsbit last week, from some wow dev, that said they had lost some subscribers at the launch of aoc, but estimated that already 40% of those had returned.
i think they deserve to burn and die for overhyping their game so ridiculously
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August 7th, 2008, 11:35
WoW was a hopeless product back in the days as well, with no high end content whatsoever - hardly any raids, no pvp system at all, no real reward for doing quests at the highest level, etc etc etc.

However, WoW was released at a time where the competitors were very "elitist" - only the very hardcore MMO gamers could achieve anything in those games, so WoW was the first to really open up to the "average MMO gamer". Trying to become a Jedi in SW:G, for example, was far too difficult - not even the most dedicated players could do it.
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August 7th, 2008, 12:56
Yes, but I think this just supports the Powerlevelling type of player.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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August 7th, 2008, 13:34
To this day I still don't understand the fascination with WOW, but I guess that's probably normal for someone who doesn't really play MMORPGs.
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August 7th, 2008, 14:10
Wasn't it always so that there was one Big Guy in the MMO market while othere were merely doing OK? First Ultima Online, then Everquest, now WOW. Even merely OK'ish MMO still seem to be doing rather well financially, so I am not sure why this situation should stop creativity. And in a few years, another Game will be the big kid on the block.
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August 7th, 2008, 14:35
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
Even merely OK'ish MMO still seem to be doing rather well financially
I'm not so certain. Since Everquest, many MMOs have been aborted because investors felt they wouldn't be profitable (for example Microsoft's Mythica and some other roman MMO by DAoC's Mythic I don't remember the name). And several others released MMOs put their investors in deficit: The Matrix Online, Vanguard, Ryzom, Tabula Rasa, Shadowbane, etc.

Unlike single player games, there is a direct competition for market shares, a player of one MMO is not very likely to play another MMO at the same time. The only hope for any new MMO is a) get players who never played MMOs before b) "steal" players from other MMOs.
And those 2 numbers are extremely difficult to predict for a financial analyst or investor.

All those reasons (past failures and "monogamy" of MMO gamers) lead investors to be extremely reluctant to actually support the development of new MMOs and when they do they tend to take as little risk as possible.

Those two ingredients put together = lack of creativity and fresh blood in the market. In the end that's bad for gamers like me who like diversity (for the same reason I'm hating how Fallout 3 is becoming an Oblivion clone, not because I wouldn't like an Oblivion with guns but because that means one less game in the already rare isometric/TB category).

Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
so I am not sure why this situation should stop creativity.
It's because WoW is very successful that creativity is stopped. For the above reasons the only AAA MMOs investors are willing to put money on are WoW clones (EA financiang Mythic on Warhamer Online ?)
It's perfectly logical from a financial point of view. And -I believe- perfectly harmful for gamers. Yet the responsible aren't investors : they're just logical people reacting to the market. It's us gamers, it's the 10.9 millions playing nothing but WoW for years and refusing to try new things.

And the argument gamers will give to not feel guilty (because no one likes being responsible for anything) is the big "just give us something of good quality and we'll play it, it's not our fault we don't play something else".

Well that's a vicious circle, quality is costly, and someone willing to pay for that won' take risks = he'll pay for a WoW clone (see Warhammer Online again). And even then, players were kind of forgiving with WoW when it first came out, no auction house, no high level content, poor PvP mechanisms. And now they accuse AoC of the same flaws. They were forgiving then and not anymore.
"Market standards have been raised" indeed. But so have the costs to meet those "market standards". So creativity and imagination are the first and only victims of cutting "unnecessary" costs to meet the mandatory "market standards".

As long as us gamers will be expecting those market standards to be met before we try/buy anything new, we won't be seeing much genuine "newness" in the coming years.

I wonder what's the MMO being developed at Bioware going to be like (especially with the self proclaimed "we want to be the WoW killer" EA as investor). Some kind of single player / multiplayer hybrid a la Guild Wars with a huge focus on story telling? That's not very new or creative to me, Guild Wars main story line and AoC's legacy quests come close already.
Last edited by Hedek; August 7th, 2008 at 15:04.
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August 7th, 2008, 14:43
It's also worth noting that MMOs do not have SP costs. A failed MMO isn't a medicore investment gone down the drain - it's a 5-year-50-million-dollar investment gone down the drain. Extremely risky, to say the least, but with huge potential.. or at least, it used to have huge potential: Now you have to compete with WoW in order to make a profit, and that's a fight you'll likely lose.
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August 7th, 2008, 15:13
Originally Posted by Hedek View Post
Unlike single player games, there is a direct competition for market shares, a player of one MMO is not very likely to play another MMO at the same time. The only hope for any new MMO is a) get players who never played MMOs before b) "steal" players from other MMOs.
Problem is that WoW is most likely the get most if not all of the A players. Its most known, most recommended and it has most shelfspace (three different versions on shops and top sales lists).

The only way for new mmos to get players is to steal them away from WoW (which owns them all) while all WoW needs to do is nothing - it can just feed on the new players. To get players at all new mmos need to prove themselves to be clearly better than WoW because players wont change mmos for any small reasons and that is not easily done.

New mmo needs to do a big jump forward from WoW. Small is not enough.

I wonder what's the MMO being developed at Bioware going to be like (especially with the self proclaimed "we want to be the WoW killer" EA as investor). Some kind of single player / multiplayer hybrid a la Guild Wars with a huge focus on story telling? That's not very new or creative to me, Guild Wars main story line and AoC's legacy quests come close already.
The new WoW expansion is going to have more story too ive heard. So that alone wont help new mmos anymore. They need to be innovative or face niche.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou
"Those who dont read history are destined to repeat it." Edmund Burke
Last edited by zakhal; August 7th, 2008 at 15:21.
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August 7th, 2008, 15:17
Originally Posted by Maylander View Post
However, WoW was released at a time where the competitors were very "elitist" - only the very hardcore MMO gamers could achieve anything in those games, so WoW was the first to really open up to the "average MMO gamer". Trying to become a Jedi in SW:G, for example, was far too difficult - not even the most dedicated players could do it.
I disagree with that. WoW being "not elitist", where "everyone can achieve something" is a huge farce imo. I'm amazed by how effective their PR/marketing department has been at making everyone believe so.

4 hours per evening of 40 men raiding and now 25, at least 4 days a week to hope completing the high level content is not exactly what I call "accessible".
2000+ arena rating to be allowed to wear the new season set -and some just don't seem to realize how difficult that is to reach on certain clusters especially when you're playing one of those "less balanced" classes in 2v2 or 3v3- is not what I call "accessible" either.

So what's left of this "anyone can achieve something in WoW"? Reach level cap? Complete small 5 men dungeons? Well guess what all previous MMOs offered the same possibilities for less "hardcore" players. Take AC2 and DAoC for instance, consensual PvP? check. Safe "farming" zones for leveling? check. Lots of quest experience that was enough to level up without having to grind through killing the same monsters over and over? AC2 had that too.

So really what exactly did WoW really have? Less bugs and a more user friendly interface. That's it. These are general features that are common to every type of game. But as far as MMO mechanisms are concerned, it had nothing that made it more "accessible".
Last edited by Hedek; August 7th, 2008 at 15:25.
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August 7th, 2008, 15:26
Originally Posted by Hedek View Post
So really what exactly did WoW really have? Less bugs and a more user friendly interface. That's it. These are general features that are common to every type of game. But as far as MMO mechanisms are concerned, it had nothing that made it more "accessible".
In my opinion, WoW has the single best combat system of any MMO. It might not have a lot of classes, but those that are there are extremely well realised. Also, the itemization is superb and overall the game is just high quality in every single regard.

As far as I'm concerned, the only thing that's truly missing from WoW is meaningful world PvP.
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August 7th, 2008, 15:32
Originally Posted by Hedek View Post
So really what exactly did WoW really have? Less bugs and a more user friendly interface. That's it. These are general features that are common to every type of game. But as far as MMO mechanisms are concerned, it had nothing that made it more "accessible".
WoW is also, just like any Blizzard game, extremely well polished, and decently balanced. It also features the Warcraft setting, which is very popular. Plus the game world is extremely well designed and every area is tied nicely to the whole.
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August 7th, 2008, 15:37
I'm talking about WoW at the start here, where the most difficult thing any player did was 15-man UBRS. Getting the blue Tier 0 gear (UBRS, Stratholme, Scholomance, LBRS) was the best anyone could realistically hope for. There was no PvP, except on PvP realms with Tarren Mill VS Southshore zerging. No rewards for doing that though, not even a kill counter (in fact, back then we didn't even have a PvP tab at all on our characters).

Molten Core and Onyxia were the raid options, but for the first six months or so, hardly anyone even entered these instances, and very few managed to get anywhere there.

Whether you were a moron, casual or a hardcore gamer, you pretty much had the same options at the time - most hardcore gamers I knew returned to games like EQ, because they lacked stuff to do in WoW (in EQ you need to be a lot more hardcore than in WoW to get anywhere). However, they came back later on as more started doing MC, and BWL/PvP++ got implemented.

Edit: I thought I should add a few things people take for granted in WoW, thinking that it's been there since the launch:
- Dire Maul
- AB, WSG and AV
- Five man limit in Strat/Scholo/LBRS (used to be 10 man raids)
- Silithus as a quest hub
- Searing Gorge as a quest hub
- Hinterlands as a quest hub (there were a few alliance quests, but they weren't all that great)
- Argent Dawn in EPL
- Zul'Gurub (first 20 man instance)
- BWL+
- Many of the quests in places like STV, Stonetalon Mountains, Desolace, Swamp of Sorrows etc.
.. and the list goes on and on..
Last edited by Maylander; August 7th, 2008 at 15:48.
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August 7th, 2008, 15:47
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
In my opinion, WoW has the single best combat system of any MMO. It might not have a lot of classes, but those that are there are extremely well realised. Also, the itemization is superb and overall the game is just high quality in every single regard.

As far as I'm concerned, the only thing that's truly missing from WoW is meaningful world PvP.
Of course, I'm not saying WoW isn't a great game. I loved it. Played it for more than a year. But the examples you're giving explain why it's a fun game to play. Sure it has several strengths, but other MMOs had their own strengths too that WoW did not, so they were also for their own reasons very fun/interesting to paly.
What I was referring to in my previous posts was just the things that made it more "accessible". That is what made that WoW attracted millions of new players that had never played MMOs before while other games attracted a few hundred thousands. And I don't believe that's the solid combat system, the fewer classes and the better itemization. These three things you're pointing at are only relevant to MMO veterans who have something to compare with. Someone who's never played MMOs before isn't going to pick WoW up because "it has a better combat system, fewer classes and better itemization than Everquest or DAoC".

Also this combat system turns out to be not so great when you begin to seriously play WoW's PvP, especially high level arenas. 2 hours for a single 2v2 arena fight because of totally stupid combat mechanisms (regrowth druids) and itemization (resilience) isn't exactly what I call a "great combat system".
(this is a 3h6 2v2 arena http://images3.hiboox.com/images/0108/htbaffv7.jpg I saw a screenshot of a 7h game but can't find it and some fights are rumored to have lasted more than 10 hours).

Edit: there it is, 8 hours: http://img89.imageshack.us/img89/460…8233357zn6.jpg
Last edited by Hedek; August 7th, 2008 at 15:54.
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August 7th, 2008, 15:57
Originally Posted by Hedek View Post
Of course, I'm not saying WoW isn't a great game. I loved it. Played it for more than a year. But the examples you're giving explain why it's a fun game to play. Sure it has several strengths, but other MMOs had their own strengths too that WoW did not, so they were also for their own reasons very fun/interesting to paly.
What I was referring to in my previous posts was just the things that made it more "accessible". That is what made that WoW attracted millions of new players that had never played MMOs before while other games attracted a few hundred thousands. And I don't believe that's the solid combat system, the fewer classes and the better itemization. These three things you're pointing at are only relevant to MMO veterans who have something to compare with. Someone who's never played MMOs before isn't going to pick WoW up because "it has a better combat system, fewer classes and better itemization than Everquest or DAoC".

Also this combat system turns out to be not so great when you begin to seriously play WoW's PvP, especially high level arenas. 2 hours for a single 2v2 arena fight because of totally stupid combat mechanisms (regrowth druids) and itemization (resilience) isn't exactly what I call a "great combat system".
(this is a 3h6 2v2 arena http://images3.hiboox.com/images/0108/htbaffv7.jpg I saw a screenshot of a 7h game but can't find it and some fights are rumored to have lasted more than 10 hours).
I played WoW for 3 years for several hours each day, and I competed in the arena and raided 4 days a week, so I have some idea of what problems are inherent in the game.

I'm not saying the combat system is perfect, I'm just saying it's the best of any MMO - at least in my opinion.

It's true that the combat system alone is not what gets players interested, but there's no way you can exclude it from the overall appeal. I think that's the key thing to understand when dealing with Blizzard and their design philosophy. For the last couple of years, people have been trying to analyse and dissect WoW - to figure out exactly what makes it so successful. Well, in my mind that's no simple task and everyone is only partially right.

I won't bother going into the standard conclusions of low system requirements and overall polish being major factors in the recipe for its success - but rather just state my personal view that it's the combination of countless features or aspects - all VERY well done - that makes it all click. In my opinion, the extremely competent and just plain FUN combat system is just as much a contribution to the overall success as the rest of the high points.
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August 7th, 2008, 18:35
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
It's true that the combat system alone is not what gets players interested, but there's no way you can exclude it from the overall appeal. I think that's the key thing to understand when dealing with Blizzard and their design philosophy. For the last couple of years, people have been trying to analyse and dissect WoW - to figure out exactly what makes it so successful. Well, in my mind that's no simple task and everyone is only partially right.

I won't bother going into the standard conclusions of low system requirements and overall polish being major factors in the recipe for its success - but rather just state my personal view that it's the combination of countless features or aspects - all VERY well done - that makes it all click. In my opinion, the extremely competent and just plain FUN combat system is just as much a contribution to the overall success as the rest of the high points.
Exactly! There's a "magic" around Blizzard, a bit of everything as you said, plus the right timing to release, and dare I say a lot of luck.
I personally can't explain why it's so successful, and all the arguments/reasons put forward by others don't convince me, I have yet to find anything WoW at (release) had other games hadn't. If every other gamer was like me, WoW would have had a lot of success at release only to die off 2 years later after people grow tired of it. So really while the initial success can be explained by polish/easiness to get into/fun and simple gameplay mechanisms, what I fail to understand/explain is its longevity.

Now most other developers/investors are trying to dissect that game hoping to find the ingredients for success. And I'm afraid that even though they succeed into reaching that level of polish balance fun, whatever, it won't just be enough. Just look at LOTRO: strictly from a "on the paper feature list" point of view it's better than WoW in every aspect (except PvP), it's extremely polished, it has a very WoW like interface, it plays and feel a lot like WoW actually, it has a very deep coherent and well connected world, interesting quests and storylines (thanks to being based on such rich books as Tolkien's) plus several refinements and improvements that WoW doesn't have and yet it came nowhere near in terms of success.

Still every AAA publisher out there is going to keep trying to take the WoW recipe and improve on it thinking it's the only way to actually "beat" WoW. Again at the cost of creativity, variety, imagination, diversity… and even so they're not certain of succeeding.
Last edited by Hedek; August 7th, 2008 at 18:44.
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August 7th, 2008, 18:57
WoW is a social phenomenon, the fact that it's a very good MMO is part of that. Surely it's momentum is only achieved with word-of-mouth approval and the fact that a lot of MMOs are just not as clean and responsive as WoW.
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August 7th, 2008, 19:38
Originally Posted by Hedek View Post
Exactly! There's a "magic" around Blizzard, a bit of everything as you said, plus the right timing to release, and dare I say a lot of luck.
I personally can't explain why it's so successful, and all the arguments/reasons put forward by others don't convince me, I have yet to find anything WoW at (release) had other games hadn't. If every other gamer was like me, WoW would have had a lot of success at release only to die off 2 years later after people grow tired of it. So really while the initial success can be explained by polish/easiness to get into/fun and simple gameplay mechanisms, what I fail to understand/explain is its longevity.

Now most other developers/investors are trying to dissect that game hoping to find the ingredients for success. And I'm afraid that even though they succeed into reaching that level of polish balance fun, whatever, it won't just be enough. Just look at LOTRO: strictly from a "on the paper feature list" point of view it's better than WoW in every aspect (except PvP), it's extremely polished, it has a very WoW like interface, it plays and feel a lot like WoW actually, it has a very deep coherent and well connected world, interesting quests and storylines (thanks to being based on such rich books as Tolkien's) plus several refinements and improvements that WoW doesn't have and yet it came nowhere near in terms of success.

Still every AAA publisher out there is going to keep trying to take the WoW recipe and improve on it thinking it's the only way to actually "beat" WoW. Again at the cost of creativity, variety, imagination, diversity… and even so they're not certain of succeeding.
LOTRO is a brilliant game, and I respect what it does a lot. But, it does lack several things that I suspect are especially appealing to the majority:

"Real" magic users
Fast paced combat system (again, I think this is huge)
World variety (especially in terms of starter zones and alts)
Mob variety (one can only face so many spiders, orcs, wolves, bears, and boars…)
PvP (you said it yourself)
Extremely low system requirements (LOTRO isn't bad, but WoW is better still)
Family friendly (absolutely nothing even remotely disturbing to children)

And more….

I do agree that LOTRO handles certain things better than WoW, in particular lore, crafting, and aesthetics - however I doubt it's something that the mainstream player cares all that much about. Even the visual aesthetic is up for debate, as WoW has a brilliant art direction and superb animations.
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