GDC 2008 : “World of Warcraft Ate Our Babies”

Lately I’ve been pouring over quite a bit of the coverage of this years Games Developer Conference and other random interviews as well.  As I read through all the great debates about “The Future of MMO’s,” Real Money Trading, etc I’m starting to notice a trend.

The party line goes a little something like this:

“World of Warcraft is destroying online gaming and the PC gaming industry in general.”

Now that’s not a direct quote from anyone in particular. It’s just the general vibe that I’m getting from game developers that aren’t named Blizzard.

There’s a lot of whining going on about how their games can’t possibly hope to compete with WoW, how you can’t chase after it’s ‘glory,’ and how “it’s sucking the air out of the PC market.” Cryptic Studios’ Jack Emmert essentially called the MMO industry sick because of it’s monumental success. I’d be sick too if I lost a third of my subscribers when WoW was released (see related article from Gamasutra).

So after seeing all of this moaning and groaning over Blizzard’s behemoth, I wonder why other studios even bother to put the time and effort into creating new worlds? With their attitudes it appears that their games are somehow fated for failure. They appear to be resigned to the fact that the games they are making just can’t or won’t be successful enough before the game even hits the beginning of the design phase.

I suppose my question to MMO developers is…

Why can’t you chase WoW glory? Ten million subscribers is an unrealistic goal to be sure, but would it hurt to at least have the balls to try?

3 Comments to GDC 2008 : “World of Warcraft Ate Our Babies”

  1. February 26, 2008 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    While I think all of the whining by these pussies is stupid, I don’t see how taking half the market makes a industry broken. Not only that, having a majority share in a market doesn’t even validate the inherent ‘glory’ of a game or any other product for that matter.

    I’ll illustrate with a metaphor by likening the gaming market to another market that’s near and dear to ol’ Smushy’s heart: Beer. Anheuser-Busch has a 48.4 percent share of the U.S. beer market. Does it make Budwieser good? No it’s the same old tasteless, American, bottom-brewed, rice, lager that it has been since before Prohibition.

    Does it prevent other beer makers from competing? Hell no, right here in our own backyard, Colorado has more microbreweries per capita than any other state in the Union and some damn good ones at that. How big of a share of the market do you suppose each of those breweries have? Do they cry because the market is broken? Doubtful. They probably just get out of bed, put on their shoes one foot at a time, and go to work to make some really good beer.

    So, I wouldn’t ask why devs can’t chase the glory of WoW. I’d just ask why can’t they just make the best damn game they can and not worry about WoW. If they don’t get 10 million subscribers, at least they’re doing what they love.

  2. February 27, 2008 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Well said. It’s easy to hate and blame the guy at the top.


  3. February 28, 2008 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I think that alot of this just stems from Microsoft pulling out from under Cryptic in their Marvel MMO project. A Microsoft rep basicly stated that there was really only one successful MMO out there and they didn’t think that the project was competative.
    This is, I think, blatently untrue and just represents a company philosophy that doesn’t allow for, “also rans.”
    The subcriber numbers for WoW are a freak in the industry and doesn’t seem to be causing Sony, CPP, NCSoft, or any of the other great publishers to be closing their doors just yet.
    I’m thinking that PotBS, Tabula Rasa, Conan and Warhammer will give us a better idea of what a successful MMO has to shoot for. Tabula Rasa and Pirates did well out of the gate and didn’t whine and moan about not hitting multiple million subscribers.

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