Anyone who doubts World of Warcraft’s popularity should heed the word of former lead designer Jeff Kaplan, who recently revealed that the game’s North American servers see an average of 16.6 million quests completed – every day.
Even more impressively, 8.5 billion quests in total were completed between June 2007 and March 2009, he said. But while the game has 7650 quests available to be undertaken, he noted that the “core team of quest designers” is made up of just five people. World of Warcraft originally launched with 2600 quests available.
“We actually feel like we can’t let that team get too big without endangering quality,” he said at last week’s GDC. “We feel like we’ve got a lot of quest-making gurus at this point, and we like the energy that they have and the way that they work together.”
Along with quests, he also said that Achievements can now be used by developers to direct gameplay because players are interested in racking up as many as possible. “I think achievements have now evolved to the point where players buy an Xbox 360 game and look at the achievement list first, and use that to decide how to play the game,” he said.
And although some games take heat from players for imitating World of Warcraft, Kaplan actually encouraged other developers to do it with some aspects of the game, saying there’s no need to re-invent the wheel. Referring to the practice of using exclamation marks to denote NPCs with quests, he said, “Just put the exclamation point, why come up with a unique crazy icon? Everyone knows what it is.”
16 million quests every day. How do you argue with that kind of success?