World of Warcraft is, by far, the most successful MMORPG ever made. The game rocketed to a peak of over 12 million subscribers, and has stood for six years as the most popular paid MMO on the market. The game singlehandedly showed publishers what an MMO could do if it found an audience ? namely, make piles and piles of money.
The success of WoW has caused the entire gaming industry to change, but perhaps not for the better. As developers and studios alike look to cash in on the lucrative MMO market, it feels as though some of them are taking the WoW template a little too far. Games like Star Wars: The Old Republic, Aion and Rift all feel exactly like WoW, but with different stories and graphics.
While it?s nice to be able to jump into an MMO and feel immediately comfortable, MMORPG was never intended to be a game mechanic the way the first-person shooter was. It?s inherent in FPS titles that they will feel the same, but the important part of an MMO isn?t the controls, but the community. Developers are selling themselves short by creating a legion of WoW clones, and none can possibly succeed in the long term (especially with WoW right there for comparison).
If devs want people to get serious about MMO games, they need to bring some innovation to the table. WoW is great, but the next big MMO should find a completely new way to engage fans and create an immersive world.