World Of Warcraft, the MMO Juggernaut which was created by Blizzard all those years ago is one of the most successful video games in history and is, without doubt, the most successful MMO – or Massively Multiplayer Online – game in existence.
Challengers for the title have come and gone over the years but none of them have managed to come close to taking the belt. This is because World of Warcraft has gone a long way toward destroying MMORPG’s.
I know some of you are thinking I’m crazy, right now. Others are having a fit and yelling at the screen about how I’m completely full of it and have no idea what I’m talking about while others, still, are preparing to write scathing, hateful comments about how this article is a piece of crap and I’m not a gamer so I should STFU and GTFO.
That’s ok…By the time you get to the end of this article, one of two things will have happened. I will have either made my point and you’ll walk away thinking “yeah, man…he’s spot on” or you’ll continue to have a fit, in which case you’re just a blathering fanboy…and that’s ok, too. It takes all kinds to make the world go ’round.
So what am I on about? How can I sit here and say that World of Warcraft is guilty of the attempted murder of MMO gaming, having certainly succeeded in nearly crippling it? It’s simple. Let’s have a peek at a bit of a non-specific timeline, shall we?
The first true MMO that anyone is aware of (At least what we would consider an MMO, today, featuring a semi-persistent state world, graphical interfaces and heaps of players all playing together, in the same game world, simultaneously) was Air Warrior, released in 1987, on the GEnie Network. I’ve talked about this one before and I was a player of that game waaaaaaaay back in the day. This was the grandfather of the modern MMO and spawned all of the huge multiplayer games to come.
In 1993-1994, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications starts using a program called “MOSAIC” for viewing the World Wide Web. At this point, the internet is still not widely known or spoken of and those who did have internet accounts at that time, like myself, dialed in to UNIX shell accounts with a standard modem and browsed the internet in a completely text based environment. 5 minutes of porn took 12 hours to download
Between Air Warrior and the next major hit, several MMO type games came and went, never gaining massive popularity. We also saw the releases of games like Doom, Quake and Warcraft. RTS games like Command and Conquer become the rage and over 300 text based muds – the forefathers of the MMORPG – were taking the internet by storm.
Next on the block as far as MMO’s go was Ultima Online. The first of the MMORPG genre was released in 1997 and turned the world of gaming on its ear. Within 3 months 50,000 players were subscribed at $15 per month and this showed the gaming industry that the gaming community was ready for them to start making MMORPG’s a staple of the gamer’s diet.
A scant one and a half years after the release of Ultima Online came Everquest. In March of 1999, Sony blew the gaming world wide open with the first 3D, first person, fantasy MMORPG. Back then it was stunning. The graphics, sound and gameplay were mind boggling and by the end of that year, well over a quarter of a million people were actively engaged in MMORPG’s, between UO and EQ.
By the way, the term “WoW clone”…that’s false. Anything that looks or plays like WoW ACTUALLY looks and plays like Everquest, since WoW is an EQ clone. Don’t believe me? Check the screenshot, n00b!
And before you say “but…but…but…the bars are in different places!!!” shut up and have a look at the next one.
The game you’re looking at in the last screen shot is Asheron’s Call. Released in November of 1999, this one also took the world by storm and added tons of players into the ranks of MMORPG players, peaking at around 120,000 players in 2002, just before the release of Asheron’s call 2.
Asheron’s Call 2 released on November 22, 2002 and was a dismal flop. It wasn’t a flop because it was a bad game, it was a flop because Turbine couldn’t develop their way out of a ripped potato sack if they had 2 maps and a team of sherpas. There was NO end-game and the classes and gear were so imbalanced, they nearly threw the whole planet out of alignment. What they DID get right, however, was the interface. Let’s see if this one looks familiar.
Of course, the games that have been listed, thus far, is not exhaustive but it does account for all of the most popular MMORPG’s of that time. You can see how the interface was developed once the 3D and first person MMO’s came to be and this interface is still the one which is used today.