A World Without Warcraft
I was taking a bath this morning, scrubbing my bits, when I started to think about a life without World of Warcraft. I mean, what would the MMO industry be like if WoW had never been made? As much as we love or hate it, there is no denying the impact that WoW has had on the MMORPG industry, it’s players, their communities, the developers and publishers and, not only that, but the way the entire planet views MMOs now. Interesting thought eh? Let’s explore.
Still No Other Western MMO Would Have Broken A Million Subscribers
Call me cynical but I think that even had WoW still not existed to compete, no other MMO would’ve surpassed the million subscriber mark. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, Blizzard accomplished something huge: they managed to capture the attention non-gamers, casual players and non-RPG fans and thus not only opened up a whole new market base but also pillaged the hell out of it. I don’t think any other game would’ve been able to do that.
Everquest Would Still Be King
Ah poor ol’ SOE, once king but now nothing more than a jester at the court of Blizzard. These guys were set to topple the world until that fateful day in 2004 when Everquest 2 was released alongside the polished, gleaming behemoth that was WoW and suddenly everything SOE had done looked crap in comparison.
Grind Would Still Exist
I think it’s fairly safe to say that without the innovation of highly accessible play, streamlined leveling and mechanics (i.e. questing and the Dungeon Finder), we’d still be expected to hack away at boring, random NPCs for two hours on end just to get from level 9 to 10. A Korean’s wet dream, I’m sure.
Communities Would Be Better
It’s not that I blame WoW for giving birth, like some sort of grotesque alien hive queen, to the terrible communities that can often infest MMOs (bit harsh but fun to write) but I do truly believe that if WoW hadn’t existed, communities would on a whole be a lot better. Without WoW, I really think the combination of small subscription pools, harsher mechanics and grind, and an older audience would’ve kept in-game communities more sociable and moderate.
There Would Be Fewer MMOs But More Variety
The upside of WoW is that it’s spurred a lot of new MMO development; the downside of WoW is that a lot of the new MMOs are carbon copies of it. Of course the old saying of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a goodin’ and there’s nothing wrong with playing WoW-like games but, still, variety is the spice of life as they say. And I’m positive that without the enticement of a potential 12 million subscribers being dangled around like some sort of poisoned carrot, developers/publishers would be a lot more willing to take risks.
The Gaming Industry Wouldn’t Take MMOs Seriously
Say negative things about WoW all you want (go on, give it a shot, it’s surprisingly fun and somewhat akin to badmouthing the boss that you secretly admire behind his back just so the other employees will like you) but there can be no denying the gravitas and respect it’s brought to the MMO genre. Suddenly, after years of fledgling growth in a relatively small industry, we had a game that was so popular, and made so much freaking money, that it put the entire video gaming industry to shame. People – gamers, publishers, developers – all sat up and took notice of that funny MMORPG acronym and realised that it was something big. WoW put MMOs on the map. Fact.