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Attack of the WoW Clones

Two games sit out on the horizon ready to challenge the mighty WoW. Final Fantasy XIV has already openly declared war while Star Wars: The Old Republic is gathering its resources. The fanbois of both games are already piling in grabbing their swords of complete loyalty as they battle on forums everywhere declaring their games to be superior. It’s almost as they wave the mission accomplished banner before the war has even begun.

Yet, when these games release, they will smash against the walls and fall. WoW will lose almost no one as they release their expansion or major patch in order to lock all of us into the game. When pitted between an expansion and a new game, we all know exactly what we’re going to be doing. We’re going to pick up the expansion and call it a day. If not an expansion then it will be StarCraft II or Diablo III that holds our interest.

Bioware and Square Enix may have a bit more room to stand and are already flush with cash, but all of that doesn’t matter to the juggernaut that is WoW. They’ll hold their ground and eventually fall to the great war of attrition that this industry has become. At least, that’s my opinion, and I might be proven wrong, but while they may be successful they will never be as successful as WoW. I do honestly think that they will both do really well, considering the quality that both companies are known for, but I don’t think they’ll do as well as WoW.

The F2P Perspective

Aika, a recently launched F2P game, offers massive PvP battles to try and lure players in.
Free-to-play developers like GPotato and Nexon acknowledge their place in the industry. They don’t seek to defeat WoW, but instead step over it and target the audience of players who want to play a free-to-play game and don’t mind paying a bit to get ahead. Their games might not get millions of players or massive press, but they do get a healthy number of players and do remain afloat with the cash shop money.

There is no free-to-play game out there that will ever challenge WoW because they’re not direct competition. The players who want to pay out a subscriber fee are usually the types who aren’t interested in paying nickel and dime for levels or zones. Just look at the strong reception that the Celestial Steed received.

That may change if the rumors are true, though, and Blizzard’s next MMO is a free-to-play game powered by microtransactions. We already know that StarCraft II is going to feature downloadable content and Diablo III is just ripe for it. That’s a discussion for another day, though.

Derek Smart vs. The World of Warcraft
There is one wildcard out there that may be able to take WoW down. It’s something that’s entirely unlikely, but I wouldn’t ever rule it out. There exists a game called Alganon that was released last year but went free-to-play with the subscription fees refunded after much uproar about how it appeared that most of the game’s graphics were ripped directly from WoW. The company developing it, Quest Online, now has a new president named Derek Smart and is rebuilding. Derek Smart, to me, is one of the greatest game developers of all time.

If we compare WoW to Pepsi and Alganon to Coca-Cola then we could relate this to the New Coke incident in 1985 when Coca-Cola was down to 24% and Pepsi was reigning supreme. Coca-Cola released New Coke which was met with a huge amount of resentment and they later recalled it and replaced it with Classic Coca-Cola placing it at its now massive market share of over 60% (as of 2004). While Quest Online hasn’t been around forever, the press it has generated has been massive.

Before Mr. Smart took over this is what Alganon looked like. A simple idea, people love WoW so why not clone it? That just shows how desperate ideas are getting in the industry to tackle WoW. Thankfully all of this is being removed ASAP.

Not to mention Derek Smart’s uncanny ability to drum up press. See, Derek Smart is known for the longest flame war ever in the history of the Internet. Before we had phpBB, proboards, and other web friendly forums there was something known as Usenet. Mr. Smart frequented Usenet and was involved in a 7 year plus flame war over his flagship game, Battlecruiser 3000AD. Of course, Battlecruiser 3000AD is one of the worst games of all time, or was at its launch, which can actually be blamed on Take Two instead of Mr. Smart for the early release. He later fixed the game and released it as freeware.

Additionally, his second game, Universal Combat was a game he developed over a four year period by himself. It was rather buggy and unplayable when it was released, but he has since fixed it up and released it as well as freeware. It’s important to understand he developed it by himself, got it published, and was able to eventually turn it into a pretty good game. That’s a major accomplishment in my book.