Dear Blizzard (Dated 2004)
September 12, 2004
I’ve been seeing previews of your new “World of Warcraft” game, and I think you’re wasting the rumored 50 million dollars you’ve put into it. It’s nothing but a clone of the market leader, Everquest, and there’s really no way you can overcome the huge advantage EQ has on you in terms of subscriber base and development time. They’ve had over five years to constantly refine and improve the game experience; you’ll be starting out where they were five years ago, and doing nothing but playing catch-up. You’ve got the same “Go kill 10 rats” gameplay and the same endgame, except you have almost no raid content ready and I hear that your “innovative” PVP system, using the same “instancing” technology that Everquest implemented years ago in their Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion, will not be ready at launch. Only something totally new and radical will work — have you considered making it over into a twitch-based FPS game? Just doing what’s already proven to be popular and genre defining, but doing it better, cleaner, sharper, and faster, is no recipe for success. Originality is far more important than competence, and building on your competitors work and taking advantage of all they’ve learned the hard way, and then bettering it, is a foolish gambit. Only the totally new and totally unproven, especially if it’s not what customers have previously demonstrated they’re willing to pay for, will win the game. You may want to look at Tabula Rasa, which has been in development since 2001 and will probably release soon. It’s so original and groundbreaking even the developers aren’t entirely sure what kind of game they’re making — that kind of shattering of genre boundaries is the best way to have a mega-hit. I feel sorry for the developers, artists, and so on who will be laid off when World of Warcraft bombs, dismissed as just another Everquest clone in a field already crowded with them (Asheron’s Call, Dark Age Of Camelot, Horizons, etc). I wish you luck — you’re going to need it.
For those wondering what the hell that was all about, it’s a response I posted on this Slashdot page which was itself discussing this article about how KOTOR (Knights Of The Old Republic) was going to fail, fail, fail because someone who played part of one starting zone which is still in beta didn’t like the quests.
I’m not claiming it won’t fail, mind you — just that if the arguments you make for its “inevitable” failure are exactly the same as arguments you could have made (and I’m sure some people did make) in 2004 to Blizzard, you might want to check your premises.
WoW was actually innovative with its quests – as I recall EQ didn’t have any quests to speak of (you could deliver things for people, but nothing like the clean and integral implementation that WoW bought to the table).
Your point still stands of course 🙂 I do wonder if the full price/full subscription fee is the right way to go though – LOTRO is a powerful counter argument.
Love your stuff, keep it up! Particularly love all the Earth Delta stuff, great work.
Not sure if my software tells you a reply was posted to the thread in general, so, here’s a reply to your post to let you know I replied to your post in, erm, another reply. Sorry.
Everquest had full and complex quests from the get-go….hence the name. There were plenty of “Kill 10 rats” quests and many long and complex quest chains which required significant work to locate and discover. A lot of people, though, didn’t bother — they just ran to a spawn point and camped it. I’ve heard many people say “EQ didn’t have quests” or the like, when what they really mean is “Wow, I never actually tried talking to the NPCs. You could DO that? Whoa.”
Here’s one in particular I remember: http://everquest.allakhazam.com/db/quest.html?quest=1497 . If you check the date — 2002 — you’ll see it was WELL before WoW came out, and while this was in an expansion, there were plenty of similar quests at the time EQ launched in the late 1990s.