I landed myself in a little twitter debate about quality and I can’t bring myself to continue writing in 140 characters or less.
Gordon from ‘We Fly Spitfires‘ (note: not the person I debated with) posted on twitter: “Haven’t logged into RIFT in a while and considering returning to WoW instead. Why does WoW have such a pull on me??? :(”
I replied: “WoW has such a pull because it’s the only quality MMO released since 2004.”
That sparked some random people I’ve never heard of to enter into a debate with me about my statement.Â You can read it all on twitter if that’s your thing, but I’m going to simply give the gist of everything here on the blog.
I’d like to start by making one immediate amendment to the word “only” and say that I consider LotRO to be, at least while it wasn’t F2P, an exception in many ways.Â I’d also like to say that this does not take into consideration any expansion packs to games or games themselves release before WoW.Â That means EVE and other MMOs pre-WoW do not count.Â I would also like to say that quality as I use it covers production value, execution and polish.
So what did I mean by my statement?
When I look at the list of games released since WoW’s Launch I see WAR, Aion, Darkfall, Rift, DCUO, Allods (if you can count that), Vanguard, PotBS, etc., and I truly feel that none of them live up to the quality of WoW.Â This has nothing to do with design.Â I think WoW’s raid and pvp gear grind as the only meaningful way to play is inferior to other designs like DAOC or SWG, but again this has nothing to do with design.Â It’s about quality, polish, production value, and how WoW, regardless of its annoying design, is executed.Â This is absolutely the reason why I easily return and play WoW.Â It’s the reason I am a customer of Blizzard for the rest of my life.Â Their products are always of a higher caliber than anything the competition puts out.Â Is this subjective? Largely!Â Entirely? Absolutely not.
The games post-WoW have praiseworthy qualities but, overall, nothing since WoW’s launch has met WoW’s quality. Perhaps “higher quality” is better than “only quality”, but it really is an all or nothing thing in the marketplace.Â Consumers know when one product is lower quality than another; the way it looks, feels, tastes, plays.Â Do I think this is the only reason why MMOs are failing?Â No, but it certainly doesn’t help when someone is making a decision whether or not to play Rift or WoW and they feel pulled back to WoW.Â My honest opinion is that it is a quality issue at the core.
The opposition in this debate fought hard to contend with me that games like Darkfall (specifically) are quality because people buy them and the company that made it has not shut down.Â The only “failures” are Tabula Rasa and Matrix Online because they were shut down.Â As a mostly sane human being, I have a really hard time with that being a valid reason to say that these are a success or have any measure of quality.Â Â I do not consider WAR to be a successful MMO, nor Vanguard, nor Aion, nor Pirates of the Burning Sea, and so on.Â Something in my brain doesn’t work that way.Â I see those as games that fizzled out.Â Did they make money?Â I bet they made some.Â But the lady down the street sells painted rocks and she makes money and ontinues selling her painted rocks.Â Am I not justified in saying that a Picasso is higher quality?Â Sure, it’s subjective but subjectivity has a breaking point.
No point is being made here, really.Â I’m not pinning the failure of MMO’s post-WoW-launch to their quality being lower since that has just as much to do with their design.Â In my honest opinion it’s a huge reason why people easily go back to WoW as a safe bet and it’s a huge reason why WoW was able to bring in more customers to the industry.Â I’m also not saying that games released after WoW can’t be good games.Â I think DCUO was a good game, albeit one that lasted a month, yet I would never say it matched WoW’s quality.
This is why I feel that, although subjective, my statement makes sense: Blizzard made a MMO that has not been matched in overall quality since its release.