Gamers and publishers dreaming of a wildly popular new MMO that crushes World of Warcraft from the get-go are dreaming an impossible dream, says Blizzard.
From Guild Wars, Vanguard, and Warhammer Online to the upcoming Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic, it seems like MMO makers have been dreaming about a game that unseats kingpin WoW from its throne since 2004. Unfortunately for them, Blizzard doesn't think that such a thing is possible - that is, not without time and a whole lot of elbow grease.
The Escapist sat down with WoW lead systems designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street last week at BlizzCon to speak about WoW, Cataclysm and the state of the MMO space in general. When asked if he agreed with comments made last year by Bill Roper, then-producer of Champions Online - that there was perhaps "an impossible bar" for a new MMO to try to clear out of the gate - Street said that he didn't think it was possible for a new game to compete with WoW on all fronts, especially with six years of live development and the revamp of Cataclysm on the way.
"I don't actually think it is possible," admitted Street. "No developer is going to be able to take six years - the four years it was in development, and the six years afterwards - you can't take ten years to make a game."
So, should other MMO makers can't hope to replicate the success of WoW, what should they do? "I think the only viable strategy is to come out with something really, really well-done and then, if you can keep the players, expand upon it," he elaborated. "That's exactly what we did."
"We didn't have Battlegrounds at launch, we added those later. We added a lot of stuff later on and so I think - I don't know why I'm giving advice to our competitors," he laughed, "[But] what I would do is do something really, really well and, assuming players like it and you've got something there, then you can start adding everything else."
Whether it's fair or not, an MMO just launching will inevitably be compared, not to WoW at launch but to WoW as it is now, with six years of polish and development. So if any MMO is looking to dethrone it, according to Greg Street the developers better be preparing for a long haul.
That includes Blizzard itself: Last year, Executive Producer of Game Design Rob Pardo told The Escapist that if a game was going to eventually beat WoW, it might as well be Blizzard's upcoming unannounced MMORPG. Last week, Pardo said that the MMORPG would likely not even be announced until 2012. So, the long haul indeed.
The full interview with Greg Street will be posted on The Escapist later this week.