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Why newer MMOs have not had the success WoW has had since WoW's release on November 23, 2004:
Why did half of the player base of Everquest leave and play WoW in 2004?? And further, why did hardly any players leave WoW to play Tera? The answer is simple, but almost no game developers seem to understand the answer. And another question: Why did hardly any players leave WoW to play any other MMORPG when they were released? WoW won't be dying because newer MMOs that don't offer everything that WoW offers and give more. That's why players left Everquest. WoW had everything it had plus more. Newer MMOs that offer a different play style won't take very much from WoW nor will they be any huge success like WoW has been. Newer MMOs that offer different content also won't take anything away from WoW. Why? It's simple, they don't offer everything that WoW has. That's the start of any MMO that wants to be the king of MMOs. Offer everything in WoW. Must include EVERYTHING such as things that a lot of players or developers won't consider such as macros, addons, different level rewards in different PvP encounters, different level rewards in different end game raid encounters. All of the things that WoW offers must be included in any game that is going to take it head-on and claim to be the new king. If the new MMO is just "different", it's not going to do much in terms of taking the player base away from WoW nor gain the same level of success that WoW has had.
Some examples of how games released in recent years could have been the new king:
1. Guild Wars 2 - If it had the things it has in it now such as dynamic events, hearts (which are essentially quests where you don't have to go see someone (but you could if you wanted to get more information on the story involved with the heart) PLUS on top of the things it has now, it included a three faction system instead of a two faction system such as WoW, included the ability to attack any of the other factions cities by killing NPCs or any player that flagged for PvP, included the trinity system (tank, dps, heal) - because the non-trinity system doesn't work in a strategy-based raid encounter. In other words, if it had everything that WoW had, but additionally, it had dynamic events, theme set in Tyria with dragon bosses, and other things that it has plus it has no monthly subscription? It would have taken over the world (of warcraft). Instead, it had no duels, no faction based world pvp, no coordinated strategic raids, the list goes on...
2. Tera - Offers a new combat system in addition to the traditional things such as questing, etc. If in addition to the new combat system where the player targets by using a mouse reticle, it included the option of using a tab target system that the player could choose by menu options, this would allow players that liked the tab target system instead of being locked into the way the game developer wants the player base to play their game. As mentioned before, it would have had to include all of the game play options such as world PvP, PvP rewards and end game raids that WoW has.
3. Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR) - This MMO has a lot of what WoW offers but not everything. Additionally, things were not implemented very well in some areas. It is as if the game wasn't polished and the developers intent was good, just not executed well. If SWTOR had every single thing that WoW had and it was implemented well, it would have taken away a huge number of players from WoW. Not only the ones that left WoW when SWTOR was released, but it would have taken more in later months when word got out the game was good. Unfortunately that didn't happen and it backfired on them and many left the game either to go back to WoW or to some other game then back to WoW.
Why do WoW clones fail? Easy answer: They don't include everything that WoW offers. They offer some of the things that WoW has, but not everything. When I state "everything", I'm talking about everything. All functionality of how factions fight each other, end game raids, world pvp that involves invading another factions cities for an achievement, etc. Why play another game even if it is free if it has less features (or options - whatever term you want to use) than a game that a player is already playing that the player is paying for? The common player won't switch if it doesn't include everything in the game currently being played at a minimum. Prior players of WoW also use the base game play style they used in WoW as their basis for newer MMOs. Why? Simple really, it has the most options.
The features I've mentioned here are not inclusive of everything that WoW offers in its game. There are many others such as macros, addons, customization of game play screens through those addons to extend game play options. Auto run, auto follow, targeting of group members for buffs (boons) or heals.
New MMOs which lock the players into a specific style of game play that the developers believe is the best will stop the full potential of what the game could have been if it didn't have the lock on it.
Will Elder Scrolls Online include everything WoW offers? A resounding HELL NO. It's not even some what close! The developers of that game are going about the development of it similar to the way ArenaNet did with Guild Wars 2. That is, they are trying to come up with new ways of playing their game which locks in the player base to playing how they want their players to play it. By not including features and options, they believe it will be better than a game which has an extended list of options. So the question is, how many people will play Elder Scrolls Online on its "Megaserver"? Most of the Elder Scrolls fans will give it a try I'm sure. Some other MMO fans will give it a try as well but it will not be any where near the success of WoW. Guild Wars 2 has lost a substantial number of players within its first few months. Sure there are some still playing but most have left for other games and some went back to WoW. I predict a similar scenario happening with Elder Scrolls Online where the hype will draw a lot of interest but will fall by the way side as players are left wondering where the options (features/functionality/endgame whatever you want to call how the game can be played) are. Based on viewing many different interviews with directors of different departments from Zenimax Online Studios, the game will be lacking in many areas most notably the combat system which appears to be very different from WoW, but doesn't include the different options of play style that WoW has. It appears to be the way Tera works with a targeting system that doesn't have tab or other keys to taget the opponent. It appears to have a very good 3 faction system which is far better than a two faction system in terms of PvP so that's a plus over WoW.
Will Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn have all of the features that WoW has and more? Only time will tell. It appears to have a good start at least because the man driving the entire development process made the statement that the intent is to include features of WoW. That's the beginning of creating a great game that will unseat the champion of all MMOs. Without that as the foundation for further development, new MMOs that start out different won't have as much success that WoW has.
Will Neverwinter Online have all of the features that WoW has? Another resounding HELL NO! Although it's an MMO that touts to be free, based on the game play videos on youtube, it appears to be more like a combination of Tera and Diablo 3 than anything else. It has a targeting system similar to Tera and what happened with Tera? Why didn't it become the new WoW killer? Once again the answer is simple, it didn't include all of the game play options that WoW has. It locked the player into a specific style of game play where the targeting system is different from WoW and some players like that, but it doesn't include many of the game play options that WoW has.
Will Everquest Next be as successful as WoW? It appears this new game from Sony Online Entertainment will be a sandbox style of game with cutting edge graphics. That's fine as long as it includes all of the things that WoW currently has which is PvP battlegrounds, different level rewards, factions which allow players to invade main cities and kill NPCs which may spark large scale combat between players on different sides. It should include tab targetting as well as target reticle with the mouse. Any game play style or game play option that WoW currently has which it does not offer will reduce the player base by the number of players which like that style of game play.
The bottom line: The MMO that has the most options in terms of game play for hardcore gamers, for casual gamers, for anyone with a variety of game features will be the clear winner. Of course a good story (lore), good graphics, smooth combat, (production quality) need to be there, but right now WoW is the clear winner because it has the most options. Develop an MMO which includes all of WoW's options and give it more and you'll beat it! Develop an MMO which is different from WoW and doesn't include all of WoW's options, it won't beat it in terms of success. How is success measured? How many people are playing the MMO?