Former Dev: WoW Has Killed the MMO Genre

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Former Dev: WoW Has Killed the MMO Genre

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The boss of new MMO Firefall thinks that World of Warcraft made MMOs "too accessible."

"Sometimes I look at WoW and think 'what have we done?' I think I know. I think we killed a genre." Former World of Warcraft developer and CEO of Red 5 Studios Mark Kern believes that WoW, and its countless clones, have killed the MMO genre by making MMOs too accessible to a casual audience. In particular, the ease in leveling through the main game and the race to the mythical "endgame" has made it increasingly difficult for new developers to create rich worlds. "And it worked. Players came in droves, millions of them. But at what cost?"

"Gear from the new expansions' first quests made raid gear from previous expansions a joke. And the level curve became faster and faster until we reached a point where everyone is just in a race to get to max level, and damn everything else in between. Why care about level 20 gear when you would blow by levels so fast it was obsolete before you even logged off for the night?"

"When the bar is lowered so that everyone can reach max level quickly, it makes getting to max level the only sense of accomplishment in the game," he said, "We lose the whole journey in between, a journey that is supposed to feel fun and rewarding on its own. Nobody stops to admire a beautiful zone or listen to story or lore, because there is no time to do so." Kern says that in World of Warcraft style MMOs, players are fed quests "by a firehose" that are so trivial, and offer such obvious gear upgrades, that players are never in one place long enough to appreciate the world around them.

Kern says that this leads to fatigue from both players and developers, which is causing the genre to stagnate. Players don't want to play another "WoW clone" but developers are afraid of deviating from the formula that WoW has ironically made players interested in the MMO genre in the first place.

Firefall, the new sci-fi MMO/FPS from Red 5, goes into open beta on July 9, and Kern promises that the team is focusing on the "journey" instead of end game.

Source: VG24/7

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Yeah! How DARE people try to get into and enjoy a game! How DARE THEY!

'Players don't want to play another "WoW clone" but developers are afraid of deviating from the formula that WoW has ironically made players interested in the MMO genre in the first place.'

Copy and paste that into discussions about a number of other genres, I'd say.

Not sure what to say about this. He's not wrong, not about the leveling. When I started playing WoW it took me months to get to max level. Now you could level an alt in a week or two.

Though the flip-side is I like the endgame content more than the levelling. From my perspective, this isn't really a bad thing.

For anyone who does enjoy levelling though.. the experience is extremely trivialized. Until you reach max level, nothing matters. There's no point to doing most of the quests, crafting is a waste of time, dungeons are trivialized, gear is mostly pointless (especially if you have Heirloom gear, which also makes combat much too easy). Before these changes though.. I felt that levelling an alt was a chore and hardly ever bothered. In the end, I levelled more alts after the changes than I ever did before.

Rather than proclaim one way or another as ultimately bad, I think there needs to be better balance between the two. Don't make levelling a grindy chore ( Vanilla WoW) but don't make it a meaningless experience either.

Wildstar devs have suggested that levelling will be much slower and gradual and that they aim to make all low level activities (getting loot, crafting, quests, dungeons, etc) relevant and enjoyable. Here's hoping they actually manage it.

So ... is he telling me not to buy his game? Okay. I don't think reverse psychology is going to work that well as a marketing technique though.

wetfart:
So ... is he telling me not to buy his game? Okay. I don't think reverse psychology is going to work that well as a marketing technique though.

No, he says the MMO genre is stagnant but his MMO is hoping to bring life back into the adventure.

And that is exactly why I quit WoW. I worked my ass of to be the best, only for an expansion to come out and make me obsolete. Way too much work for very little reward.

saintdane05:
Yeah! How DARE people try to get into and enjoy a game! How DARE THEY!

point <- -> you

Here. Let me help. In the article above, Mark Kern was quoted as saying this:

"We lose the whole journey in between, a journey that is supposed to feel fun and rewarding on its own. Nobody stops to admire a beautiful zone or listen to story or lore, because there is no time to do so." Kern says that in World of Warcraft style MMOs, players are fed quests "by a firehose" that are so trivial, and offer such obvious gear upgrades, that players are never in one place long enough to appreciate the world around them."

What he is talking about has nothing to do with people not getting to enjoy the game, but rather that games that are geared for fast leveling -like WoW and most of its wannabes- encourage a belief that the end game is all that matters, and that everything before should be blown through as quickly as possible. This is made pretty obvious when you see people complaining about games that just came out not having a comprehensive end game. And he's right.

I remember back in Everquest, I always felt a sense of being in the present. Leveling took so long that it was important to enjoy what you were doing, because -and this is my opinion as a somewhat casual MMO player- grinding in that game was a one way trip to insanity. I mean, what you were doing would be considered grinding by today's standards, but there was grinding and there was grinding. One thing that WoW did right over its predecessors was to up the volume of structured quests(20 bear ass quests notwithstanding). What they did wrong was speed up the leveling process so that they became nothing more than a more wordy version of grinding(albeit a shorter version as well).

I think a mmo that focuses on the 'journey' and not the endgame would suffer at the hands of those WoW trained players who somehow manage to rapidly burn through the all the contend in a week then bitch of forums about it. I seriously don't understand how people are able to get though content so fast unless they ignore all lore and the experience of the game.

Yarrow:
I think a mmo that focuses on the 'journey' and not the endgame would suffer at the hands of those WoW trained players who somehow manage to rapidly burn through the all the contend in a week then bitch of forums about it. I seriously don't understand how people are able to get though content so fast unless they ignore all lore and the experience of the game.

As a regular MMO player, I can tell you that this is exactly what they do. They have it so ingrained in them that they HAVE to get to endgame and they HAVE to get that awesome gear that they blow through the main quest as fast as possible, going so far as to get a friend or guild to run them through on their first character. It completely kills the idea of what an MMO is supposed to be about, but this normally brings in the "I paid my money, so I can play how I want" crowd, never realizing they are missing the point of the whole thing.

Speaking as someone who used to partake in quite a few MMOs but none really since the WoW train started. I almost always cared more about the journey and never once saw the appeal of end-game and raids and such. It just wasn't my bag.

On the other hand, you have no-endgame MMO's that will leave you in the dust if you didn't play from the beginning. Forget about being decent, let alone competitive.
So WoW did a good job, giving everyone a chance and doing some pretty difficult stuff for those who wanted it.

Also, the reason "no one" bothered with the scenery or lore is because WoW started out with grindy repetative crap. When you've dealt with that, you just click accept and follow the arrow.
Cataclysm brought a massive amount of content that actually made it fun to make new characters. I sure enjoyed it, but by that time I was fed up with the game I'd been playing for nearly a decade.

I'm actually considering rejoining just to do the small stuff, for kicks, but I want to do it *alone*, because I know if I pull in my closest friends, they'll want to hurry through and make me want to as well. As soon as there's one impatient person, it's just a grindfest again.

The single biggest downfall was the streamlining and the catering to people who were obsessed with class balance.
Seeing all that made the druid unique fly off to the other classes and from them to others as well, was heartbreaking. Being X class, used to mean something. Then you'd see shit like PvP imbalance affect PvE and vice-versa, it's moronic.

While fighting to play a certain spec of your class was dreadful and scorned by everyone else, it was still worth the challenge. If you put in a lot of effort, even if it was just to be on-par with other classes, it meant something, it was a worthwhile achievement.
A feral druid tanking Ragnaros in cloth!? Preposterous! Yet it was possible and feasible.

Even if you have 12 million players and investors breathing down your neck, you shouldn't fuck up the game and make it worthless; People notice that and even if they don't understand why the game isn't fun anymore, they'll still feel the impact :/

if you dont like endgame, make mmos without such ridiculous concepts like level caps. oh wiat, there already are plenty, and their popular. so whats your point again?
yes, wow has killed the MMO genre by making it mainstream and now your niche game cant cut its own part unless it becomes imaginative and unique, how terrible that you have to invest some work and not just have people flock to you simply due to lack of choice. i pity you, truly, for you have not found the monopoly that you expected in MMOs.

You just have to pick the right MMOs and you will see that there is aboslutely no need to be a WOW clone to be sucesful.

I reject the notion of vanilla wow's leveling being a trivial grindfest, and i found myself (although i quit a few weeks into cata) reminiscing about the epic quest chains of vanilla wow that just never resurfaced.

I remember picking up the quest from the fallen hero of the horde at around level 37 for the first time, and that quest chain stuck with me until level 60 when i finally killed the last boss of the chain.

The story was awesome, the scope of it was amazing, sending you all over the world, and giving you great azshara back story more than any other quest in the game.

And there were a number of chains like this, that were amazing. Especially things like the class specific epic quests... Benediction, the hunter chain, doomguard, paladin mount... all amazingly awesome (and fucking hard) quests...

It was the stripping down of the leveling process completely in cata that turned me away for good. Go to hub A. do all quests and it will open hub B. continue until 85 through the 3 more zones. Do the same thing in left over zones for cash.

Ugh.

But yes, i want a new MMO that grabs me like WoW did upon release, but the only one that has come close was the secret world. Speaking of which, is free to play now, maybe i should go give it another shot..

And i'll keep an eye on this firefly..er firefall game.

I fail to see how WoW in general ruined the MMO genre.

That's like saying CoD ruined the shooter genre.

I disagree with that sentiment. Did WoW lose it's spark? Maybe, I never played the games.

However it is entirely the fault of the WoW clones that they killed MMOs. They all want a piece of the cherry pie, but there is only room for one.
Instead of making a blueberry, or an apple pie they just try to make an even more delicious cherry pie to the point where nobody likes pies anymore because all there is is the cherry flavor.

Same thing with shooters. Everyone wanted to be a CoD clone, and the result is what we have now. Dull color shooters with same look and feel. A good amount of people are sick of shooters now, but there is just enough of a high demand to keep the dead horse running.

This guy is an idiot.

Before WoW came out, the top dog, Everquest, had subscription numbers south of 500k. Then WoW hit ten million subscribers, and suddenly morons in the industry decided that WoW numbers were the new norm and that any game that couldn't hold at least a few million subscribers was a failure.

WoW didn't kill the genre. It simply made it apparently how small-time it already was. Now, with game budgets in general being what they are, nobody is going to bother making an MMO with a target of 200k subscribers. It isn't WoW's fault that your MMO that would have only had 100-300k subscribers before isn't getting five million now, and if he's hoping to get that with old-school MMO design he's going to be in trouble.

EDIT: Oh, one other thing. Don't confuse "Blew through leveling content in a few weeks" with "Not enjoying the journey". I've leveled enough characters through enough versions of the same leveling content in WoW, and the post-cataclysm 1-60 content was the most fun content to play through, in part precisely because it was fast enough that the scenery wasn't wearing out its welcome before I moved on to a new zone.

shadowmagus:

Yarrow:
I think a mmo that focuses on the 'journey' and not the endgame would suffer at the hands of those WoW trained players who somehow manage to rapidly burn through the all the contend in a week then bitch of forums about it. I seriously don't understand how people are able to get though content so fast unless they ignore all lore and the experience of the game.

As a regular MMO player, I can tell you that this is exactly what they do. They have it so ingrained in them that they HAVE to get to endgame and they HAVE to get that awesome gear that they blow through the main quest as fast as possible, going so far as to get a friend or guild to run them through on their first character. It completely kills the idea of what an MMO is supposed to be about, but this normally brings in the "I paid my money, so I can play how I want" crowd, never realizing they are missing the point of the whole thing.

Given the horseshit that passes for writing over at Blizzard these days, I'd say rushing to the endgame is doing the player a favour. The only shame is that the beautiful looking sights you can still see in WoW gets kinda lost amongst the bad writing and rush upwards...

That said I thought endgame in WoW was only played by a minority? Or did all the changes to it alter that? I haven't heard of any updated looks into it so...

I would say he's right. All MMOs now are mostly WoW clones and it's disappointing nobody trys anything too different from the basic formula as there are so many interesting possibilities for an MMO platform.

Dear Firefall developer, I've played your game and was reasonably pleased, but you know just as well as I that it doesn't measure up to WoW. Not because WoW killed the MMO genre, but simply because your game doesn't have the same quality or replay value.

If the MMO genre is dying (and I'm pretty sure it isn't seeing how everyone and their dog is making one), it is because developers lack the creative spirit to make a product that is both immediately appealing while also offering an exciting long term journey and vision.

WoW succeeded in doing that and while all the clones of the game don't help, you can't blame it for succeeding. It was obvious that it would succeed if you look at the state of the genre before it.

BloodSquirrel:
This guy is an idiot.

Before WoW came out, the top dog, Everquest, had subscription numbers south of 500k. Then WoW hit ten million subscribers, and suddenly morons in the industry decided that WoW numbers were the new norm and that any game that couldn't hold at least a few million subscribers was a failure.

WoW didn't kill the genre. It simply made it apparently how small-time it already was. Now, with game budgets in general being what they are, nobody is going to bother making an MMO with a target of 200k subscribers. It isn't WoW's fault that your MMO that would have only had 100-300k subscribers before isn't getting five million now, and if he's hoping to get that with old-school MMO design he's going to be in trouble.

The Top Dog wasn't EverQuest it was Lineage. Released in 1998 it reached 3 million subscribers by 2002. Then it began a slow decline and was repalced by Lineage 2 (release 2003) as most subscribed MMORPG in 2004 with little more than 2 million subscribers. That didn't last long though because WoW was released shortly after and raced by then in no time.

AFIK there is no MMORPG with more than ~ 2 million players (not subscribers! As most other MMOs are mostly F2P now) aisde from WoW. So your 5 million figure is made up.
Only MOBA (LoL, DotA etc.) draw this amount of players these days.

So yea he is right.

VladG:
Not sure what to say about this. He's not wrong, not about the leveling.

That was about what I took from it, the rest is just a nostalgic man thinking back on his Everquest days with a hearty sigh.

Oh sure it was a heck of a time for those that could band together and had all the time in the day...

But for everyone else the game stank. You got in, died lots, flipped a table and went off to play something that didn't have so many shitbags calling you a noob and making off with all your stuff.

Note here in EQ days, I was 12. I wasn't going to be good at it in any capacity, but there was no illusion of even having a chance.

WoW needs to streamline it's difficulty curve. At the moment.

Level 1 to Looking for Raid is this barely incrementing line of nothing steadily crawling up to this massive mount Everest.
Enter Arenas, Normal-Heroic Raiding and Rated Battlegrounds. You wanna play here bub you better make sure you have a friend who can pull you up with a rope or some hella good climbing gear because otherwise you're going to look at that mountain and proclaim; "Sod that!"

And that's where all the 'difficulty' in WoW currently is. Hidden at the end, but you're not 'forced to do it'. You get to LFR, get a weak based epic set with faulty colors that look like the harder gear, and you feel pretty much fulfilled for the most part. And because you're no longer forced to do it to continue your fulfillment those who got knocked out of that niche, or no longer have time to make it, feel like 'all the difficulty was taken out' and take to whining about it on youtube and blogs. Where really the truth of the matter is they just don't have time/gotten bored/their friends have moved on. And being sad about that they need an 'angry excuse' rather than the harsh truth.

TLDR: The difficulty curve is currently not very streamlined. The leveling experience could use lengthening, it no longer feels like a journey and that Blizzard is just trying to hurry everyone along to end game to justify using resources on raiding. (Which...I'll admit the Mists of Pandaria raids so far have been sublime... but...LFR blows and I think is a disappointing outcome for 'new players', sorry.)

Phrozenflame500:
I would say he's right. All MMOs now are mostly WoW clones and it's disappointing nobody trys anything too different from the basic formula as there are so many interesting possibilities for an MMO platform.

Interesting video, but it's apples to oranges. There's a reason he could only find Eve as an example of a sandbox MMO. It's because it doesn't work in the same genre. Closest thing you could come to it would be something like Minecraft. I played WoW because I liked the depth. I actually played and paid attention to the quests and the environment around me. I tried playing Eve and was bored out of my mind. There's no journey in Eve. What's weird is that if there was ever a game that defined grinding, that would be it..

Ishigami:

The Top Dog wasn't EverQuest it was Lineage. Released in 1998 it reached 3 million subscribers by 2002. Then it began a slow decline and was repalced by Lineage 2 (release 2003) as most subscribed MMORPG in 2004 with little more than 2 million subscribers. That didn't last long though because WoW was released shortly after and raced by then in no time.

AFIK there is no MMORPG with more than ~ 2 million players (not subscribers! As most other MMOs are mostly F2P now) aisde from WoW. So your 5 million figure is made up.
Only MOBA (LoL, DotA etc.) draw this amount of players these days.

So yea he is right.

Nobody else has actually *succeeded* at five million subscribers. Instead, they've budgeted for it, gotten far fewer, and either died or went F2P instead. Which is the entire point of my post, as you have failed to notice- WoW's numbers are not the norm by which every MMO should be setting its expectations.

I'd say he's absolutely right. Seeing this in TSW at the moment. I took about 3 or 4 months playing through the game, completing all quests that could conceivably considered "major", and generally had a good time. Nowadays there are more and more people who join the game, breeze through the gear progression, hit the nightmares after 2 weeks, and complain about not having anything to do but grind the end-game gear on the forums.
"This gaem sucks balls! MOAR RAID! MOAR END GAME CONTENT!"*

And TSW has a pretty great world and a good story, at least compared to other MMOs I've played.

* Translation courtesy of google translate.

I always liked the journey in most mmo games a lot more than the destination.
Despite that I don't think the mmo genre is dead or in the process of getting killed.

I've been saying this for years. Wow forgot what they were in the grab for playerbase. World of Warcraft... emphasis on the World. They subtly made the game so flat that really, you have no sense of being in the world... you're just in a lobby waiting for the next raid and you occasionally play a farming minigame while you wait.

Wow was originally the sort of game where you could actually get lost and it wasn't a bad thing in hindsight. It gave the world some depth. Face it, the game has lost a lot of it's narrative depth with each expansion. CAta did something smart by changing the start areas a little but otherwise... dead. When you make 80% of your content meaningless you make a game that people will find quite forgettable.

It could be worse and there's still a chance for turn around. See WoW needs to remember the fundamental rule of RPG's, you want to have a tangible effect on the world you're in... WoW no longer does that, it never did actually. Rather than craft boss raids, they would be better served putting in a mechanic that would allow players to seize new territory for their faction and hold it... maybe allow players to determine key narrative points. I mean seriously, who actually wanted Hellscream as Warchief, even if it wound up as hellscream giving the player some chance to affect the outcome would have been a real coup.

For the genre to recover..games need to have depth again, games need to focus on letting the player actually feel a part of the world, not like thw world is just the wallpaper of the lobby screen.

In short WoW and many other games basically decided to start catering to a specific subset o their audience, the subset that enjoys raiding. husly they are slowly losing everyone that isn't such a big fan of Raiding.

This is how my friend wanted me to play, and that's what killed it for me. He kept trying to "power-level" me, and it just ruined the experience. I just wanted to be able to enjoy the game. There's a lot to enjoy. But, yes, there were way too many meaningless quests that didn't do anything for you.

My argument is probably about to become invalid, but this is why I prefer SWTOR. The quest descriptions are delivered in such a way that gets you involved in the conversation instead of having someone just talk at you, and there aren't so many that they start to weigh you down.

Translation: I want to get my shitty WoW-clone in good with the WoW-backlash crowd.

BigTuk:

It could be worse and there's still a chance for turn around. See WoW needs to remember the fundamental rule of RPG's, you want to have a tangible effect on the world you're in... WoW no longer does that, it never did actually. Rather than craft boss raids, they would be better served putting in a mechanic that would allow players to seize new territory for their faction and hold it... maybe allow players to determine key narrative points. I mean seriously, who actually wanted Hellscream as Warchief, even if it wound up as hellscream giving the player some chance to affect the outcome would have been a real coup.

That's a far bigger change to WoW's fundamental structure than they could really get away with doing. They've implemented PvP zones that could be "held" by one faction or the other, but there's not much point to them if you're just trying to get into heroics.

I've really enjoyed the firefall beta, I was lucky enough to get an invite for the first wave of the closed beta and spent hours a day just thumping for resources. Even in such an early stage of development with no real quests I enjoyed it so much more that WoW.

I like the new system in firefall of having to build your equipment and being able to modify it, I liked the lack of actual levels too. I agree with WoW feeling like a grinding level race to end-game.

I'm kinda going to be sad when it goes open beta as I've enjoyed the relatively small community being helpful and friendly. Something I never experienced during my time on WoW.

This sounds like like it could be true but I don't play MMOs so I haven't felt that type of fatigue. MMO end game complaints I have heard of though.

SWToR tried that it is probably the most expensive game ever made. Simply put it is a lot easier and cheaper to make your skinner box upgrades and bonuses that rich lore and storytelling.

On top of that, I dont play MMOs because of story, I play because I get sweet upgrades all the time and I can interact with other people. Adding rich lore to an MMO is kind of like putting Kinect in the Xbone, sure it's there but it doesnt really make it better.

"Sometimes I look at WoW and think 'what have we done? ... "And it worked. Players came in droves, millions of them. But at what cost?"

I got a REALLY good laugh out of these two lines. Not because I disagree with the guy, far from it. It's just I can picture these lines being said in the opening voice-over to some post-apocalyptic movie.

Really I think this guy is spot-on with his description of things. After being with WoW from it's original launch till the end of BC (shortly after Lich King launched, to be exact), he touches on one of the main reasons I finally stopped playing the game, specifically the bit about equipment in the new expansions' starting quests being obscenely overpowered in relative terms to what you had before. Think of the countless hours you spent raiding to get the awesome gear you had. I was a warlock player and I put in a LOT of time to get a full Felheart set at the end of WoW's original game...only to find it laughably inadequate when compared to the quest rewards you got in the opening quests for BC. I didn't get Lich King right away, but seeing the gear my guildmates were getting from the opening quest effectively negated all the work I had done in the previous expansion. Hours upon hours of playing the game all reduced to meaningless "You really should have done something better with your time" waste...so I was done with the game. Why bother leveling up to get to the end game and get all the epic lewt when a couple years down the line it's going to be made into a joke once the new expansion hits?

It's not that they're too accessible in general, the games are too short in particular.

shadowmagus:

Yarrow:
I think a mmo that focuses on the 'journey' and not the endgame would suffer at the hands of those WoW trained players who somehow manage to rapidly burn through the all the contend in a week then bitch of forums about it. I seriously don't understand how people are able to get though content so fast unless they ignore all lore and the experience of the game.

As a regular MMO player, I can tell you that this is exactly what they do. They have it so ingrained in them that they HAVE to get to endgame and they HAVE to get that awesome gear that they blow through the main quest as fast as possible, going so far as to get a friend or guild to run them through on their first character. It completely kills the idea of what an MMO is supposed to be about, but this normally brings in the "I paid my money, so I can play how I want" crowd, never realizing they are missing the point of the whole thing.

So what they need to do is find a way to slow players down, as long as they "up front about it"

Getting ready for a new MMO I've been watching.. I really hope they make the levels take time. The last few MMOs I've played really made me feel like I was falling head over heels towards the 'end game.' I don't mind the focus of a game being end game, but if we feel forced/rushed to get there then the arrival has little impact. If leveling dungeons don't have a steady progression of difficulty and gear then raids have a different impact.

I dunno I think MMOs are flawed as in it forces you to work with others and be a generic drone just one of many same type archetypes. MMOs should focus on single player and customization(free/mix and match builds/archetypes). Then build and expand the lore. Have group play work like co op things are scaled up to make things harder for a group. I really dig champions online it might be content lite but to make up your own character and tweak it to your tastes its wonderful.

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