Comparing Apples to Starfish

With Warhammer:Age of Reckoning just around the corner gaming boards accross the world have been flooded with impressions and bold predictions, on how WAR will fail, or WAR will kill WoW. I have beta tested this game for a while, and while I will spare you the 1000th review – I will state that I have preordered the CE and will be playing the title instead of WoW. Back to the article title, the inevitable comparisons between the two drive me nuts. Maybe it should be ‘DRIVE ME NUTS’

Here is a tip people – MMO’s don’t kill each other, they kill themselves. The natural life cycle of any MMO is to grow, then peak, then slowly die. WoW didn’t kill Everquest. A 10-million-avid-gamer-comet couldn’t kill the dinosaur, so why do people even begin to think a new title will have any sort of impact on the king of MMO’s? It won’t. What WAR will do, is create another good option for gamers who have outgrown existing titles to move on to. And move on they shall.

WAR won me over when I leveled to Rank 20, RR 18 without having to do one single generic PVE quest. Not one kill X of Y, not one single escort a terrible pathing AI NPC to somewhere else, not one drop off this generic item to a generic NPC for some generic reason. It was glorious. After looking back on my first 20 levels, not only did I not have to participate in the same old quests I despise, it was actually fun. You see, in WAR, it isn’t a race to top level to start enjoying the game. The leveling itself is part of the fun, and not many MMO’s do that right.

As argued on countless boards, you shouldn’t compare WAR in it’s coming out of beta state to the extreme polish of a 3+ year title. As MMO vets we should know to not have those unfair expectations. In the same breath, I have no problems comparing Apples to Starfish, by saying, if WAR and WoW were released at the same time, in both their end-beta conditions, WAR would have won the WAR. Those that remember WoW beta will agree with me. Of course that isn’t entirely fair as a lot of what WAR is based on comes from the WoW experience (much as WoW was built from the EQ experience, which was built on the UO experience, which was built on the MUD experience, which was based on the PnP experience, which was based on this guy’s creativity which was no doubt built on hallucinogens) and WoW definitely set the standard for expectations – even in a post beta release product.

Dubious cliche arguments:

  • “If I am buying a car, I want the whole car, not just the frame!” (when buying an MMO, you are buying a car that is still on the production line. If you want the whole car finished and polished, wait 6 months)
  • “You have to compare new games to what people are currently playing. That is a consumer’s expectation” (MMO players don’t comparison shop. They base their purchases off of their personal experiences. Did you pick up a WoW box and an AOC box and read the features of both before deciding to switch? Didn’t think so)
  • “Developer XXX lied because they removed YYY feature” (Guess every MMO dev is a big fat liar. EVERY MMO is fundamentally different today, from the day they launched. The whole ‘Game experience may change’ is the disclaimer. If you don’t get it, don’t buy.

The list can go on, although most of us are tired of hearing them.

For the next few months, into release, expect people to make the comparisons continually both in game and out. It will be supremely annoying and my /ignore list will fill up fast. Do yourself (and everyone else) a favor, don’t compare, just enjoy.

5 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I just wanted to be the first to post on your blog. WOW RULES BEOTCH!!!! Boy, I hope I never have to meet your arse in person 😛 (time’s a ticking for that beer man)

  2. As argued on countless boards, you shouldn’t compare WAR in it’s coming out of beta state to the extreme polish of a 3+ year title.

    I argue the opposite. If you want my $15/month now, you compete with the others who want my $15/month now. You are against Asheron’s Call with 100 updates, World of Warcraft with the full might of Blizzard, and whatever the new shiny is the week after you release. Being the new shiny gives you an advantage: you are new and shiny. We pay for novelty. You also get the advantage of having designed a game after seeing how thiings worked in those other games, so that you can have X in your initial architecture rather than attached to the building halfway up. But if your new game is not as fun as the old game, we don’t need your new game.

    No, we don’t expect you to have as much content as a game that has had years of updates. We do expect a game experience of at least comparable quality, better if we need to abandon our guild or drag them all with us, worse is allowed if we are all tired of the 3+ year old games and want something new and shiny.

  3. Interesting you use the word “compete” Zubon when describing your MMO dollars. Personally I leave an MMO when I am done with the game (for whatever reason – didn’t play DAOC until a year after release from EQ, didn’t play WOW until after a year of release from DAOC, etc. Neither of those games lured me away from my current title I left for other reasons. I wonder if the two camps are split along the same lines (those with leniance with new titles and those with far less lenience) by those who want a new game to trump their current experience vs. those looking for a new experience to begin with.

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