How to Beat World of Warcraft

Every week I hear a new studio talking about how Licensed MMO X will topple World of Warcraft and ascend to the throne of MMO supremacy.

They’re all fucking morons and 100% wrong. They know it, too. Most of these people will be ecstatic should they breach 1 million subscribers.

World of Warcraft is far from an unassailable tower, provided you hit it from the proper direction. So far, studios have lined up to make Generic Fantasy Mummorpurgers before the gates of Mordor, marching proudly with their gleaming swords and armor, only to toss all that crap aside at release and ritualistically disembowel themselves, gut-shitting a final product of intestines and bodily fluids into retail (see: Vanguard).

Here’s a simple guide to would-be developers as to how to unseat the King, or at least become one yourself.

  1. Do not make games based on nothing. This should be obvious. World of Warcraft built upon the storyline of the Warcraft RTS games, which themselves stole liberally from Games Workshop, who stole liberally from fantasy writers X, Y, and Z. No one gives two shits about Everquest Lady and with good reason. Have something to build on.
  2. Do not make licensed MMOs. Same problem in the opposite direction. Here you are trying to build your empire in the middle of someone else’s larger, more profitable empire. No doubt you’ll be forced to put Han and Chewie into the starting area just to appease the suits. This is one of the reasons Age of Conan and Warhammer Online will fail: They’ve got too much baggage. Warcraft had three successful games plus expansions.
  3. For fuck’s sake don’t make a fantasy game. It’s been done. They own fantasy. Make a fantasy game and you’re setting yourself up for failure. Everyone who wants to play a fantasy MMO is playing World of Warcraft or one of the stragglers around the periphery that hasn’t been crushed by Blizzard’s massive dick.
  4. Limit yourself to blatantly stealing only one thing from WoW at a time. I suggest the interface, they did it about as well as you can do it, and left the community to fill in the gaps. The interface is accessible and functional up until the final levels, when they’ve already got you smoking their crack. At that point, you’re hardcore enough to go out and customize it on your own. For many interface customization in WoW is a meta-game, try to make the sleekest interface, so you can post it on forums to enhance your e-peen.
  5. Make a Sci-Fi MMO. This is the only strong point from which you can take on Blizzard, and believe me this window won’t be open for long. Blizzard is no doubt already making plans for a Starcraft MMO. There are many properties in gaming that would be conducive to a sci-fi MMO. Halo. Get to work, Microsoft.
  6. Failing that, don’t make it an RPG. MMOFPS has been attempted, albeit ham-fistedly. With a compelling enough storyline an MMOFPS could work. MMORTS is far dicier, given the non-personal nature of RTS units versus player-characters.
  7. Make it for consoles and not PC!  It’s a gambit but one that will work out some time.
  8. Above all else: Stop saying that you are making a “WoW Killer”.  Its like a “Halo Killer” or an “iPod Killer”.  You can’t beat a product that has ascended into the cultural lexicon so completely that it becomes the measure for success.  You can beat a product, you can’t beat culture, unless you’re the Chinese Government.

You’re welcome, game designers.  Now I gotta go farm primals to pay for my epic flyer.

Advertisements