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I have played a lot of mmos, and that includes several new ones. I'm seeing a pattern emerge so predictable that you can almost set your watch by it.
Phase 1: People learn a new mmo is coming out, and excitement starts to build. This will be the Next New Thing.
Phase 2: Game goes into Beta, and rumors circulate it is the Same Old Thing that is Not Ready For Release.
Phase 3: Game releases and a respectable number of people buy it. Sometimes not. But usually.
Phase 4: A few months pass and cue mass exodus of 40% of the player population. Loud cries of Same Old Thing, No One Is On My Server, This Game Sucks, Paid Beta, Nothing to Do At End Game, WoW Clone But Lacks Stuff I Liked in WoW.
Phase 5: Server mergers, F2P, Item Shop.
Phase 6: Population rebounds a little from F2P. Some new content added, but mostly aimed at the item shop to boost revenue.
Phase 7: Game languishes while an expansion that should have occurred 9 months to a year after launch isn't ready, while devs putter instead with item shop content.
I'm not seeing an end to this cycle on the horizon anywhere. There is a reason everyone thinks that each new game is a WoW clone, and why they usually end up annoyed that the new game lacks something in WoW. It's because WoW is like the Borg. They had a good game of their own to start with. And since 2004 they have been continually adding more things. Your game will be assimilated. If a new game comes along with something people like, Blizzard will add it to WoW.
Developers. Either make a game as close to WoW as you can and update the graphics, which is what a lot of people want. Or make a niche game and keep the budget in check so your niche game will still make money. Or swing for the fences and truly make the Next New Thing that is so awesome we forget about WoW. These are the choices.
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