We’ve all heard it. Fanboy this, Fanboy that. “Aion sucks!” “So and so game is far better!”
Lets start with Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, since this seems to be the stick to measure up.
WoW was not the first MMO, but was the first to cross market it… made it appeal to fantasy people, kids, nerds, Lore geeks etc etc. However, Blizzard doesnt seem to want to do anything else… I guess its the ole “why mess it” mentality. Meanwhile, ANYTHING other than WoW will get criticized to death… if a new game differs from WoW too much, people will say “they’re stupid for not following what works”… and if its too much like WoW, people will complain that “its just another clone”…blah blah blah blah. Frankly, Im bored of the same ole tripe of the WoW kiddy cartoon style. After it gets stale, they just copy maps, houses, characters, mobs, etc… change the colors a little, perhaps a few tentacles or something, and release it as a “NEW” expansion….
Huge “L” on the forehead in my opinion. Then again, we hall have an opinion.
So let’s face it, people dont play MMO games because they are intellectually stimulating, provide wisdom, or produce the ability to increase ones brain power/concentration. People play MMOs for the chat, and the fact that its a “no brainer”. What makes WoW so successful, is that it truly is a no brainer… and it appeals to just not one genre. Case in point, my “carrot on a stick” analogy
its still a carrot. Here’s another one…
Sure in the next expansion, the carrot may have a tail, or be green…. its still a carrot. I seriously doubt any MMO will beat WoW at its own game play. Instead, the game that will pull more dollars will be the one that’s evolved from that play style, and add some thinking beyond a strategy that you memorize… but one that adapts to its own set of stimulus.
Lastly, to restate my above sentence… “Alas, we all have an opinion”. If I am to pick up another game, I will pick up one thats got something new or better to offer. Some of us are content with killing … “Cartman says, 65,340,285 Boars, which should take us 7 weeks, 5 days, 13 hrs, and 20 mins.”
Let’s have some quick facts about popular games and their current (or recently published), standings..
So let’s face it, people dont play MMO games because they are intellectually stimulating, provide wisdom, or produce the ability to increase ones brain power/concentration. People play MMOs for the chat, and the fact that its a “no brainer”. What makes WoW so successful, is that it truly is a no brainer… and it appeals to just not one genre. Case in point, my “carrot on a stick” analogy… really…. its still a carrot. Sure in the next expansion, the carrot may have a tail, or be green…. its still a carrot. I seriously doubt any MMO will beat WoW at its own game play. Instead, the game that will pull more dollars will be the one that’s evolved from that play style, and add some thinking beyond a strategy that you memorize… but one that adapts to its own set of stimulus.
WoW subscriber base (according to Blizz reporting in Jan 2008 – 11.5 Million World wide
Aion subscriber base (according to NCSoft reporting in August 2009 – 4.4 Million in Korea only
AoC subscriber base (according to FunCom reporting in Feb 2009 – 100K World wide. (a $23.3MM loss)
Lotro wont publish its subscriber base numbers but in Sept 2008 – $144Million a year in sales
Warhammer subscriber base (according to Edge Online reporting in Feb 2009 – 382K World wide.
Blizzards press release in Q2 2009 stated they took a significant loss, but state reasons due to down turn in economy in the US and affected EU and Asia markets. They also stated they expect to regain old subscribers with an upcoming expansion
Ok Thirteen, so what makes an MMORPG the “best”? In two words… Suscriber Population… Aka dollars. Many people say World of Warcraft is the “best” game out.
oh yeah? so lets quantify that. Best,… because of what?
Its graphics are superior to any other?
Its play model is superior to any other?
It costs less per month then any other?
It has a long standing plot / story line?
Its support and maintenance is superior to any other?
It offers a wide variety of customization?
Its requirement for players to maintain a high level of skill?
I can answer each of these with a definite “no” and provide an example;
graphics? no, see Lotro, AoC, Warhammer, Aion, Lineage, Eve. I would almost argue that WoW is at the very BOTTOM of the list for graphics.
play model? no, been copied or was copied dozens of times. Even Blizzard has copied its own, and rubber stamped it into Starcraft, and soon to be released Diablo 2.
Cost? no, majority of MMO games have ~ same cost, if not exactly the same
Plot? no, Lotor has the longest standing plot and story line.
Support and maintenance? no, AoC, Lineage, Eve all have no maintenance dates.
customization? hell no. Example; every other game out there.
High skill? no, AoC, Guild wars, Lineage, Lotor… require more skilled combo, and interaction with the player. one example, AoC mob shield generator, it moves depending on operator input, damage, AND it also is random.
MMORPG… hmmm RPG. Interesting. Let’s think about that some. What appeals to the Masses of Multiplaying Online people who play these Role Playing Games? Does button spamming make a game good? RPG wouldn’t tend to say so. There have been RPG games out for quite a long time, even before the current MMO giant. It was the skill involved; the thinking; the adapting and preparedness for a battle that made RPG games so very popular. Aion’s combat sequences are a mix of a bit of it all… button spamming, chained RPG abilities, character position to damage ratios, mob defense shields etc.
So what does this mean for the fate of Aion’s launch success?
Forget about the games themselves for a minute, and just look at the corporations. If Corp A has a product that’s been the reigning champ for sales for a long time, and Corp B has a new product, that looks to be a very strong competitor… post market research analysis teams will push Corp A to throw out a gimmick. Not to beat out the competition, but to simply ensure a reduction in projected sales by Corp B, and thus maintain Corp A’s position as leading sales…. this marketing strategy has been used for centuries, and it has 0% to do with the actual product. Who really cares that Lucky Charms has a new 5th marshmallow!?!? Cataclysm is just a 5th marshmallow. And a poor attempt at that, in my opinion.
Worgens and Goblins?!?
So here’s this authors opinion… Aion doesn’t need to “beat out” or “kill” any other MMO. They simply need to have sales in a close second. There are enough MMO games out today which pull a little chunck from the current MMO giant. Eventually, the player base will level out, and Aion, like many others, will become “another MMO game”. Its up to NCSoft to do the job of keeping subscribers, once they get them. I believe they can keep the attention from the start with the above current industry standard graphics, customization, and flight combat mechanics… I will be very interested to see how the end plays out.
One things for certian…
The days of considering MMO “aerial combat” as tossing a “smilie face” bomb from an auto pathed dragon…. are over.