Developers want to make the mmo that will take World of Warcraft’s top spot. Only Bioware’s Star Wars: the Old Republic came close. Some competitors developed promising games that fell flat. Wahammer Online fell into this category. Some attempts to unseat WoW, such as Trion Entertainment’s Rift, maintain a dedicated following. Why does a nearly decade-old game maintain such a large lead?
Blizzard’s mmorpg does not offer any unique game play features. It does, however, offer fairly balanced game play in a familiar world. Gamers first encountered the World of Azeroth in the first Warcraft game. The original CD ran under MS-DOS. Successful sequels cemented its following. Blizzard gained an advantage over Everquest because the company earned a reputation for a quality program. The game attracted new players because the storyline offered a mixture of dark, serious plots, pop culture references, and light-hearted moments.
Newer games offer better graphics, more features, new content, and new worlds. Most of the World of Warcraft competitors, with a few exceptions, do not manage to engage the players in the same way. Blizzard developers managed to create a game that is fun, even if it suffers from the same grinding problem s found in almost all other mmorpgs. As soon as another company can figure out the blend of elements, they may unseat WoW’s top spot. It also may not hurt if the company chooses a world that already has a large fan base.