Low System Requirements – An Element Of Success
I have no doubt that part of the success of World of Warcraft was due to it’s modest system requirements. When I first played it 5 years ago, it ran perfectly on my (then) three year old PC and even today, with the requirements increasing every expansion, it still runs smoothly on everything from a toaster upwards. With this in mind, I find it very odd that newer MMORPGs still try to rival the success of WoW yet never try to match it’s low system requirements. Did Funcom ever imagine that Age of Conan would gain million of subscribers when the game had such demanding specifications?
Yes, low system requirements in themselves weren’t the reason for the success of WoW but what they did allow for was a large target audience. For instance, in addition to it’s modest requirements, Warcraft was available for both the PC and Mac immediately from the point of release. All in all, that’s a whole lot more potential gamers than a modern demanding game might have.
For example, the boss of my company used to play WoW (I think he’s stopped now) with his son and I have no doubt that this wouldn’t have been the case had the system requirements been excessively high as his home PCs aren’t full blown gaming rigs. Another work chum of mine also plays WoW on his Mac and his girlfriend on her netbook. Their a perfect example of potential longlife MMORPG fans but are restricted in their hardware. I’m sure if they wanted to play something like Age of Conan – which they may well want to do once they tire of WoW - they simply wouldn’t be able to.
So, it’s refreshing to see another game taking the same path as Blizzard and releasing itself into the marketplace with low system requirements. Whilst not a MMORPG (yet), Torchlight comes out on Tuesday (27th Oct) and, along with being a game I’ve been looking forward to for a while, has surprisingly very low requirements. Here’s an excerpt from their FAQ:
Q: What are the minimum system requirements?
A: The PC version will require Windows 2000 or later, x86-compatible 800MHz processor, 512MB of RAM, 400MB Hard Drive space, DirectX-compatible 3D graphics with at least 64MB of addressable memory (such as an ATI Radeon 7200, NVIDIA GeForce 2, or Intel GMA 950).
The requirements are so low, we are even able to play Torchlight on the netbooks around the office!
Combine this with a low price tag (£14.95/$20) and a Mac version in the works and you’ve got a game that’s given itself a large target audience. Hopefully this will put Runic in a strong position for the release of the MMORPG version in a few years. Now let’s just hope that Torchlight is actually decent