The Myth of the WoW-Killer
By: Vincent Haoson, OnRPG Journalist
Wow Killer… Sound so cool ain’t it?
People who have been immersed in the MMO scene for the past decade for sure wouldn’t find this “title” new. In the off chance that you are part of that rare group of people, I would say that you have been living under a rock that’s under another rock. In the past decade there have been MMO titles that have been called as such because people believed that these titles would finally steal the crown off WoW as one of the biggest game titles in the MMO industry.
For me though, I say that this title is rubbish and a myth. And I’m saying it with conviction.
Before anyone would raise their arms in utter outrage on that statement (if I guess there would still be anyone who would care for that) I would say in my defense that I’m not a WoW fanboy. My WoW experience took only two or three months of my life. In that span of time most of it was spent as a Blood Elf Paladin (all types) and I stopped playing because (1) my budget can’t afford me to keep on playing (2) I really needed to get away from WoW before I got too addicted and stopped working all together.
There are still people out there who chronically title MMOs as the possible WoW killer that we’ve all been waiting for. As far as I recall, I only remember of two BIG titles (in terms of marketing) that has been crowned by the gaming public as the “chosen one”.
#1 Age of Conan
Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (back then) was one of the major MMO titles that would’ve given Blizzard a run for its money. The game presented a whole new gameplay aspect never tried in an MMORPG. The worlds were wonderfully made, and the women NPCs were downright beautiful. It was set as one of the highly anticipated titles to come out back then.
The WoW playerbase was immediately affected come AoC’s launch. However after a few months, players started returning to WoW after experiencing Hyboria for themselves, disappointed with what they have experienced. The majority of those returning complained of bugs. If Funcom would have given the game development a bit more time, history might have taken another path.
Now, AoC is still on its second expansion, Rise of the Godslayer, with most of the bugs from its launch fixed. However, AoC still fights against its bad reputation to prove to players that the game is worth trying a second time.
#2 Warhammer Online
Warhammer Online was considered as the biggest contender against WoW. I personally would have to agree that the game had a lot of potential. It allowed new players to get into PvP from level 1. It had a rich history based on the Warhammer franchise before it became an MMO, ensuring a huge following of promotional fanboys leading up to launch.
Upon the game’s release, players flocked into the Warhammer servers hoping to enjoy what Mythic has promised. However, upon experiencing the game first-hand, players would slowly but surely leave the game for WoW again (or another MMO). WAR had failed to maintain proper class and population balancing which is integral in a PvP oriented MMO. The promised big battles in WAR failed to deliver when the server itself did not live up to the hype and crashed hard once 50-100 players flocked into the same battleground.
I could list on and on what WAR did wrong, but in the end players decided to just cancel their subscription. The supposed WoW-killer with a killer budget failed to even put a dent on the WoW front, and now WAR is slowly losing its servers one by one.
To make things clear, WAR and AoC aren’t bad games. In fact, if they were better run by the companies who managed them, I bet WoW wouldn’t be comfortably sitting on its perch as the MMO who pwned them all.
Also if you are wondering why I only used these two as example when there are a lot of MMOs out there who may have been presented as a WoW killer one way or another, my reason is that AoC and WAR was heavily marketed as the WoW killer.
However, try as developers might, WoW would not budge since up till now it is still going strong. Sadly, as the years continue I can only say that the idea of an MMO being able to defeat WoW is more and more becoming a wishful dream—myth-like if you will, especially with the trend of MMOs these days.
The current set of MMOs being released lately has started to incorporate elements of WoW into their games. May it be in the way of the job class, skill tree or even the interface, you constantly see MMOs trying to copy WoW elements rather than innovate away from them.
Developers have stopped trying to be different but instead went with the safe route of getting elements from what WoW has set and just merely adding a few tiny pinches of “creativity” into their games. Of course who could blame them? After seeing titles burn out after going against WoW developers would then prefer to just get some sort of return regardless if they are copying WoW or not.
The lack of any attempts on developers to becoming bigger than WoW and just settling for something that can rake in some cash is one of the reasons why I think that the idea of a true WoW Killer is a myth. Developers these days either would not take risks or are that just lazy and create game, after game, after game that would follow the WoW formula.
Of course I’m not disregarding titles that have been truly unique experiences (Champions Online for one) however they have yet to achieve the “legendary” status that WoW Killers seem to have.
The lack of any attempt to be better than WoW really has strangled the growth of the MMO scene. In the east alone- WoW clone after WoW clone have been released and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.
As far as I am concerned, I stand by my call that the WoW killer would stay as myth unless I see games that can uproot what WoW has established. Only time will tell if that would ever come to pass.