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AJ Glasser tackles the popular idea of "WoW clone" MMORPGs, and examines the impact and validity of that idea on a pair of high-profile games.
In a recent article from 1up.com, EVE Online CEO Hilmar Petursson asked why so many Massively Multi-player Online Games copy World of Warcraft - as if developers do it on purpose."...World of Warcraft is the perfect implementation of this [genre]," says Petursson, referring specifically to fantasy MMORPGs. "It's been done. Do something else."
Petursson's game, EVE Online, has the luxury of being unique among MMOs; it's science fiction and it is entirely dependent on social interactions in gameplay, EVE Online has catered to a specific (and loyal) niche of MMO gamers that generally has no cause to compare it to WoW. Other games, particularly ones in the fantasy genre, don't fare so well. The stigma of WoW clone syndrome can cripple an MMO in the early release days, driving away players who either, 1) Don't want to see the same old thing or 2) are completely loyal to WoW on grounds that it's the best of the best.
Take, for example, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Whatever you feel about the game, Vanguard brings originality to the fantasy MMO genre with gameplay features like Diplomacy and a robust crafting system that caters to the unique skill sets of the crafter. The game is also designed to be a follow-up to the original EverQuest (as opposed to EverQuest II) and therefore specifically, and by definition, not copying WoW. Even so, Vanguard was dubbed a WoW clone - and a lousy one, at that.
Read the whole article here.