Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Most MMO gamers like WoW more than your MMO: Deal with it

A lot of MMO commentators seem pretty hostile to World of Warcraft and the players that dig it. For example, Syncaine's popularization of the term "WoW tourist" to describe former WoW players that try out new MMOs, and then leave when they decide they don't like them as much as WoW. It sometimes feels as if the hardcore enthusiasts that have been playing since the glory days of EQ are at war those that came in on WoW and prefer it to other MMOs (newer or older). If there is indeed a war being waged, I would suggest that it is a futile one. The "sheep" have spoken, and they have won.

You can rant and rave and call WoW the "McDonald's/ Brittany Spears" of the MMO genre as much as you like. The fact of the matter is that the bulk of gamers that are willing to play $15 a month for a game like WoW better than any other MMO they've tried. The masses have spoken, and they like their MMOs easy, fast paced, relatively shallow, and with a very over the top design aesthetic. They don't care about the prose in quest text, they don't care about cohesive lore, they don't care how useful the crafting system is, and they don't care whether any attempt is made to blend zones together into a cohesive world.

What really brought this home to me was actually the most recent NPD chart. The number two selling MMO in North America in January was Warhammer Online, hanging in tough at number 14 more than two months after release. If these sales keep up, WAR will quite likely be the next sub based MMO to cross the 1 million threshold. Among the features it shares with WoW are (1) an over the top design aesthetic, (2) easy questing (red blobs on the map for cris sakes!), (3) fast paced leveling, (4) crafting system that yields many borderline useless items, (5) quest text that is (for the most part) utterly forgettable, (6) a world that sacrifices cohesion for playability.

I'm not saying that WoW or WAR bite (far from it), or that WAR is a clone of WoW (WAR actually has far superior PvP and very different class designs). What I'm saying is the features that they have in common seemingly embody what most MMO players want, at least based on sales. And I think it's about time we (i.e., the crusty MMO enthusiasts that have been playing since the glory days of EQ) all got over it and moved on. I'm really starting to get tired of MMO commentators that rail against the "mindless WoW masses" whenever the moderately-successful-to-niche MMOs they happen to like prove unappealling to the bulk of MMO gamers.

Most MMO players just don't like the same things as you. Deal with it.


  1. Well said. I really can't get to involved in the competition that seems to go on between MMO players and whose game is the best. The reality is that the things I don't like about a game are the reasons that someone does like it. There's no such thing as a right or wrong opinion. I'd much rather see more discussion about game design, community development, and general pros/cons.

  2. I agree. If we could all get over "one man's trash is another man's gift certificate for piles of gold bullion and unlimited blowjobs from women he is far too bad looking to date" the world would be a better place.

    Far too many commentators seem to conflate "I didn't dig MMO X" with "MMO X sucks in an objective sense." Of course, if you are blogging in the first place it's pretty likely that you have an inflated idea of the importance of your personal opinions. So what should we expect?