Can another MMO compete with WoW’s community?

In the comments to my last post, Klinger made a comment that really resonated with what I’ve been looking at lately.

Klinger said;

I loved EQ2’s combat system. The Heroic Finisher or Chains or whatever it was called.

I also truly adored the tradeskill system. You REALLY had to pay attention and if you did, you could make a regular cloak into something awesome. Also the fact that you had fully crafted armor sets at each 10-19, 20-29, 30-39, etc. level break was really neat.

EQ2 did a LOT of things right.

The things that killed them, though, were the HEAVY system requirements and the severe lack of community. I don’t know if it’s a SOE thing, but it doesn’t seem like the info on quests, items, or walkthroughs are as easy to get with EQ2 as it is with wow.

Think about it – what if wow didn’t have wowhead, thottbot, alakhazam, or any of the numerous blogs or class guide forums. EQ2 may have some of that stuff now, but even 2 years after it’s release, it had NOTHING on wow in terms of community.

WE made wow successful. Blizzard made a great game, I agree, but the community keeps it going and makes us want to play it for the last 6 years.

I agree with so many of his points, I just had to make a post out of it. 🙂

When deciding on playing an MMO other than WoW, there is more to consider than the game itself. There is also the community.

When you buy the World of Warcraft, you get access to the game that Blizzard designed and implemented.

On top of that, you also have available the work of thousands of WoW players, enthusiasts and fans who have researched, analyzed and in some cases gushed over the years the game has been out.

Some of the things available are clearly there because smart folks said to themselves, “11 Million players that want to know where the damn quest item is… that’s a lot of potential pagehits.”

Others exist out of pure enthusiasm and fun.

Can you imagine playing WoW without any player-created addons of any kind whatsoever? No custom UI, no Omen, no Recount, no Map mods or coordinate displays.

Heck, think about that. No coordinates addon, and no place to research where a quest item could be found with the coordinates listed for you.

No WoWhead database kept carefully maintained, and no awesome players that go to WoWhead to share their experiences with quests or items or where they were lucky enough to find something or how they managed to take down something tricky.

No writers with their own websites, just chatting away about their experiences playing different classes, and sharing tips on how to get the most out of them… or at least sharing commonly made mistakes to keep you from doing the same.

No fan driven news sites to help you know what’s going on, what to expect, what to be on the lookout for.

If it wasn’t for MMO Champion and WoWhead and Hunter bloggers and the players of the game sharing their experiences on those sites, I never would have known about the Spirit Bear pet available to Hunters to tame in the 3.2 patch, where he could be found, or had an addon that constantly scanned the area for a Unique critter Spirit Bear so I knew if he popped up.

Value added service.

Something no company can plan on providing on their own. There is simply no way a company can devote the resources, the hours, the money to come up with all the amazing things that you, the readers, provide to the community yourself. The skills that you each have on your own, researching or programming or testing or being enthusiastic and positive and sharing that energy, that you each provide on websites and in forums and blogs throughout the world.

Perhaps the MMO developer of the future, to try and capture some of the success of WoW, will have to devote serious thought on making it easy for a community to form.

Something beyond “We can haz official forums”.

Perhaps something on their official website that has a page listing instructions and resources for making your own fan blog, like a “How to get started on Blogspot or WordPress.”

Or a plan to have Blue posters like Blizzard does that really are dedicated to answering intelligently asked questions and revealing plans and taking suggestions, whether they get seriously looked at or implemented or not.

Or a posted way to contact them if you are interested in creating your own mods, addons, or database program so as to get more info on database structure or programming rules.

The transparency of Blizzards’s addon functionality was one of the most amazing things ever during the first year, and the Macro section as well, just fantastic. And the players have taken it by storm.

There is something about being able to create your own custom experience that draws people in. Take a look at any collection of player UI screenshots, and tell me that all of those players could have had the same level of long term enjoyment if they were stuck with the default UI.

In fact, having addon creators in house, who had the responsibility to make addons that could customize the UI in various ways, provide options beyond the default… that’s not a bad idea either. Of course, if you write it, someone will demand customer support for it, but still.

Can you imagine the possibilities if there were an in-house addon development team that played the game during Beta, and when faced with different things that were annoying, could say, “I wish there were a tool for that… and if I wish it, someone else might too. Let’s write one for people to have, IF they want it.”

Part of the joy of the game is having the basics there to enjoy, but also having tons of custom made tools to add… IF you want to.

I know that if I were spending millions developing an MMO, and had all that invested in it’s success, I would be doing everything I could to get buy-in from the players, encourage them to WANT to make the game their own and feel involved in it’s success.

Seriously, Blizzard has changed the nature of gaming by giving players the tools up front to be able to create macros and addons, and the players themselves took the reins further.

Any game developer owes it to themselves to take that into account. It’s not enough to be a product developer, create your MMO, have a website with a forum, and then release the game and sit back, expecting the players to do everything else.

Like it or not, expectations have changed. There will inevitably be comparisons.

I don’t think anyone will expect the community to be there overnight… but people WILL expect an MMO developer to be in partnership with the players, sharing information to some extent and actively helping people get started. The last thing any player is going to expect from an MMO developer is to be aloof and distant, isolated from player concerns, and silent.

Almost makes me wonder what crazed lunatic would willingly WANT to embark on creating an MMO as a business model.

14 thoughts on “Can another MMO compete with WoW’s community?

  1. Beginning this with a side note, I played EQ, loved the idea of rangers from half-assed D&D attempts(my friends were way too “cool” for that for the most part), but could never make it past the 20s-30s. It affected me so little in my 6-month attempt at doing well(yes I played everyday for 6 mos and only made it that far), that I can’t even remember my characters name. It turned me off of MMOs so bad that I didn’t come back till I tried WoW about 2 months before they nerfed the BC raids in preparation for Wrath.

    I would give up my 360, WoW, and any other electronic gaming products I owned and sign an affidavit that I will never use them again for a Starcraft MMO.

    First, I enjoyed Starcraft far more than Warcraft, despite the fact that I feel the D&D/Tolkien-esque type world is more intriguing.

    Second, who better to build a WoW-killer than the creators of WoW. They have a pretty good handle on what works, and what doesn’t. They could also gain a lot of initial community by allowing some sort of deal for switching from to WoS(World of Starcraft, although I think Starcraft Galaxy or something like that sounds better), or a deal for combined subscriptions. This would be akin to allowing addicts being H to shoot up while on methadone.

    My main concern is that if they ever did make WoS/SG, it would be a WoW clone set in the future with pretty graphics, with all the same positives…and negatives. My minor concern is a lack of appropriate character types for classes and races. You’ve got Protoss, Terran, Zerg(are they even sentient on an individual basis?). Terrans have a few realistic classes, but past Marines, Firebats, and Zealots, you start running out of options.(I don’t even consider any Zerg classes viable as playable race characters) How can you scale a Dragoon down to a Marines level, or a Firebat up to a Templar.

    Still, I want it.


  2. The Bar has been raised by Blizzard in the MMO community and I doubt anyone will take the crown or vault the bar without Blizzard letting them. The community, all 11 million of us, just won’t leave wow until we’re forced to. Oh sure, we’ll try the new “BEST EVAR MMO” that comes out (I’m excited for SW:TOR) but I doubt I’ll jump ship permanently from wow.

    About the only thing that could do it, honestly, would be Starcraft’s MMO. Come on Blizzard, you know you wanna let me roll Firebat.


  3. I’m looking forward to The Old Republic because, well, Star Wars, and Bioware, and AD&D based rules, and Star Wars, and Bioware…. You get the idea. It may not be the WoW-Killer, but it may be the first thing in while to give any competition to Blizzard. You’re right though. It will need to have a good community or it will be just another “Yeah, I played that for a few months, it was pretty good” game. If anyone can pull me away from Blizzard, it’ll be Bioware 🙂


  4. Well, perhaps part of it is Blizz itself allowing these features to blossom. The reason why WoW is such an awesome game, to me are two fold. 1) Addons. 2) All the databases that exist.

    I tried LOTRO, i hate it. I even have a sub still (bc i forgot to cancel it, doh). Its completely uncustomizeable, and I got tired of the default UI after an hour. Also, there is no community. If my wife didn’t lead me around by the nose, i would wander aimlessly to get quests done. I’m used to the wham bam thank you ma’am of WOW quests.

    I also tried EQ1, and discovered the community was spoiled rotten kids, and SOE was just competely absent from the game. No dev talk, no moderators, no in game help…it was horrible, horrible. All it took was one jerk who corpse camped me and refused to give me my corpse back that killed the game for me. (plus there is the fact that you lose XP when you die, oh yeah and all your stuff).


  5. Tex… Tex, God bless you, that right there was about as concise a way of describing the highs and lows of the WoW community as you can get in one comment.

    Bravo sir. Bravo.


  6. I logged into WoW after reading this and was thinking “yeah, there’s a lot I like about this game but it really is the community, the people that keep me playing as much as I do”. Of course, the loading screen goes away and there’s the guild message of the day still talking about NE Mohawks, Rocky III and the A-team. Next is my total time played, then time played at this level, and then Trade Chat begins ( I know, I know….it shouldn’t be visible at all, but I had to get gem cut before I logged last night and our guild’s JC’s weren’t on). The very first line I see is this from Justynthedk: “All of teh N****** in Haiite deserved to die – discuss”. So, I submit that the greatest feature of wow is not only the people, the community so to speak but also the foresight of Blizzard to allow me to not only ignore that element of said community and never see them post again in my gaming experience, but also to report them for things that go beyond simple “asshattery’.


  7. Another thing to note between EQ2 and WoW is- WoW is easier on a machine which, right off the bat, turned a lot of players away from EQ2. Really anyone can play WoW fine with a low end computer where it isn’t the case with EQ2. I am not saying this is the reason, it’s a factor for sure. Back then my video card didn’t support the pixel shaders to even run that game.

    “Can you imagine playing WoW without any player-created addons of any kind whatsoever? No custom UI, no Omen, no Recount, no Map mods or coordinate displays.”

    I actually liked it more so before all the massive addons it has now, to be honest. Dps meter spam, gear score spam.. yada yada. For me it has somewhat tarnished the game. While I love my healbot to death it’s annoying to become dependent on addons, especially when they break and I can’t use it for several days! Sure it makes things easier… but in a sense it has lost it’s thrill and any mystery it had. We know what all the bosses are about to do!

    These days I find myself playing WoW less and less, because it’s just turned into a circus- because of the community. Where the outside community is great, blogs, fan sites and information sites are superb- the in game community is .. well.. meh.
    .-= kaozz´s last blog ..Allods, Yikes! =-.


  8. Well, don’t blames me, Waveman. You think you find something helpful on me blog, just means ya been smokin’ felweed again. Don’t think I didn’t see ya doin’ it neithers.

    Having tried EQ2, I’s gotta say part of the reason the WoW community be so much more developed is, EQ2 just didn’t didn’t gives ya that much fer ta talk about. “Dear diary, today I killed things fer a really long time, then I went and sat in me house by meself and rearranged the furniture. Again.” Just didn’t do it fer me.
    .-= Ratshag´s last blog ..Well Hello There =-.


  9. Actually, the more I play the more I find WoW to be over documented by the community.

    If I didn’t read the community documentation, yes I could be a bit amazed when finding a new critter like the spirit bear if I happened along the right place at the right time. But conversely, I’ll never be able to that one guy that figured out where it spawned and be the only one to have it. There is very little in the way of originality. Everyone reads the same documentation that the community puts out and within a couple of weeks everyone has the same stuff if it’s the best.

    So while I do appreciate it sometimes, I’ve started becoming a bit jaded by it as well. It has become the “easy button” of the game. A crutch that everyone uses and I am as guilty as the rest.


  10. Great article, BBB. Underscore this with the subscription business model, which really is about establishing a relationship, not selling a product. I despise the model, but Blizzard really does seem to understand how to make it work; you let players get involved.
    .-= Tesh´s last blog ..Bacon and Chocolate =-.


  11. Ok, after I quit WoW, I did give EQ2 a try (someone else was paying for it, so I figured why not) There were certain features I really liked,
    For example, anyone could farm. Customizable Guild halls and residences for your character. BUT one of the big reasons that experiment did not last too long was the fact that EQ2 had virtually no community. There was little or no sites for me to go take a look at leveling guides, quest info etc. Got frustrated trying figure everything out the hard way. Basically WoW kicked its ass.

    Spot on BBB!


  12. I love LOTRO, but I keep coming back to WoW and that’s part of it.

    Quest text isn’t always clear. Not having a reliable wowhead-like resource has made LOTRO a bit more difficult, but not having any addons is a much bigger issue for me when I switch between the two.

    In fact, as much as I love the Tolkien universe, if I hadn’t purchased a lifetime subscription years ago I might never go back, and these are the biggest reasons.


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