Like I mentioned previously, it seems like World of Warcraft is setting up a great situation for some new games to come and swoop up its market share. With six million subscribers paying about 12 dollars a month to play this massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (whoo!), the best guess estimate is that World controls half of the MMORPG market. A huge part of that appeal has been the simplicity and ease of entry, but another part has been the huge amount of story and setting that the easy-entry gameplay let old Warcraft fans explore and new WoW fans discover. With the latest mind-numbing bit of stupidity from WoW, we’ve got a good picture of what future content will look like for fans of the game’s setting: rubbish.
Without getting into the technical details of the changes to backstory and classes — WoW fans should already know, and everyone else shouldn’t care — the big concern is how this will change the numerous MMORPGs currently being developed. Games are being pushed out under the approachable “WoW model” instead of the previous godhead of the design environment, the punishing “Everquest/Final Fantasy XI model.” Will games that are borrowing from Warcraft’s model forgo well-thought settings with asymetrically balanced sides, or will they take this as a chance to outshine Blizzard at its own genre (if not game)?
Hopefully other developers will take this chance to show that ease of gameplay doesn’t have to reflect easy design, the route Blizzard seems to have chosen. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the video game industry, the PC game industry in particular, reacts to the route that Blizzard has chosen.