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BioWare: Warcraft is the "touchstone" for Old Republic

Blizzard has established the rules for success in MMO market, says Zeschuk

Blizzard's World of Warcraft is the touchstone on which BioWare measures its forthcoming Star Wars MMO, The Old Republic.

Speaking on the keynote panel today at the DICE Summit in Vegas, BioWare's Greg Zeschuk said that the company is following the rules established by Blizzard's subscription fantasy MMO.

"It is a touchstone. It has established standards, it's established how you play an MMO. Every MMO that comes out, I play and look at it. And if they break any of the WoW rules, in my book that's pretty dumb," Zeschuk told the audience.

"If you have established standards, WoW established them."

While topics in the panel included the rise and evolution of social gaming, Zeschuk said that big triple-A projects were still viable, and Warcraft was the perfect example of success in the blockbuster space.

"Bigger does work. Big has worked and frankly, WoW is the biggest. On a pure revenue basis it's probably the biggest game ever by a country mile. It generates so much revenue it's an incredible international business unto itself. How do we compete with that? It's an interesting challenge.

"In some ways they [Blizzard] cracked this market wide open. Obviously Star Wars is a very big licence and it's something that when done right - and it's something we did right with KOTOR (Knights of the Old Republic) years ago - it's an incredible force multiplier on your efforts. We've added things so that anyone that plays it knows it's a BioWare game.

"It's not like we're actually going out there to beat anyone, we're going out to place. The audience will tell us if we have a place," he concluded.

Also on the panel was Blizzard's Mike Morhaime who said that Blizzard wants more quality MMOs in the market because poor titles could be putting off potential consumers in the genre.

"BioWare is a great developer and obviously Star Wars is a very strong licence. We think it's good for the MMO genre for additional MMOs to come out that are actually fun and good to play," he said.

"I don't know that it serves the genre very well when MMOs come out and have all sorts of problems and players leave in frustration.

"Hopefully, new players will come in, experience it for the first time and find out that maybe they're fans of the genre. If they get frustrated and leave maybe they won't give the genre a try at all.

"So, do a good job," he told Zeschuk.

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Latest comments (5)

Ryan Locke Lecturer in Media Design, University of Abertay Dundee10 years ago
Im practically blue in the face when I see MMO's ignore some of the lessons WoW taught us. And theres a huge list of them.

Say what you will about WOW, but to me its an incredible watermark to live up to, and some decisions are so simple and effective, its almost mind-shatteringly unthinkable how another company didnt see it.

Dont get me wrong - dont go ripping WOW off, but instead, recognise the key areas bliizard use to make the game so accessable, fun, addictive and sociable - and more than anything, 98% satisfying (you'll keep comming back for the elusive 2%, your not gonna get it though...)
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Morgan Owen Studying Electronic engineering, University of Nottingham10 years ago
Agreed. It's ridiculous to argue wow hasn't done something right when it's this
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Morgan Owen Studying Electronic engineering, University of Nottingham10 years ago
I agree. It's ridiculous to argue wow hasn't done something right when it has such a huge following. I think the more games learn to follow and adapt successes in there genre the better; as long as it doesn't lead to a series of genetic games all doing the exact thing. Learn and adapt but no point in fixing what isn't broken! ( apologies for previous comment; couldn't find delete button on phone when I slipped and clicked send)
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Show all comments (5)
Christopher Willis10 years ago
This is why I am not afraid to flame other game Devs on their forums. If they make a game that completely ignores some of the most basic principles, well then they were not paying attention.

Cryptic now gets it. Me and several others trashed them when they released STO to the public, and the game was a horrible mess. Now they are building a really great game with amazing revamps of their old missions. They will probably make STO a premium true AAA title in a year or less with all their hard work, but it hasn't yet come together.

Choice is King in MMO's frankly, just look at WoW. You have the choice to level in different zones, and the choice to have different starting zones per race. The world is huge and really does make you want to explore. Exploration is definitely part of the fun, and having games that reward exploration isn't a bad thing at all. You also REALLY need to cater to the casual player in your leveling content. The player should be able to get far in an hour to two hours, and rested xp can truly help in this if the player has a busy life.

Build your game around the idea of playing with friends, but also give it the ability to be solo'd. If you want to level with friends, then they can drop in at any time and come level with you. This is anothing strong selling point in WoW.

Story telling and the RPG element are something most of us that are waiting for SWTOR really aren't worry about. This would be because we believe that Bioware gets it. They understand the term RPG, and will take SWTOR a step above what WoW can do, and this is good news for the genre. Mini games are also definitely a great idea, and player housing like SWTOR wants to do, with ships as your homes is a truly great concept.

Leveling initially has to be easy in the first few levels with not too much danger, as this is mostly the tutorial section. Not that you can't die, but it needs to have relatively straight forward quests that help the player learn the game. You then increase the games difficulty and force the players to use their skills as they level in each new zone. It's okay for the content to be somewhat trivial at first, but the challenge should be there with several quests later on that make a person also want to group.

Look at how WoW also opens up new content and choices as you level. The LFD list populates with new dungeons so many levels, your Battleground choices are greater as you level. The more you play, the more you have access to. This helps to keep the game exciting and fresh.

I could go on, but these are things I feel I picked up as lessons from WoW.
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Abel Oroz Art Director / Artist 10 years ago
Obviously, World of Warcraft is a great game that has set huge standards. The potential danger I see there is when other MMOs will implement Warcraft features without a real reason why, just for the sake of duplicating. The point here is knowing the reason why that feature is great in WoW before just adding it. Blizzard has a reason for every gameplay decision, and that decision won't probably work for another game if it's not driven by the same triggering reason. Forgetting this, probably due to the lack of abstract-thinking, is a rampant problem in the industry despite how obvious it is. "If Avatar sells is because people want movies about blue aliens" - that logic that seems so absurd on the paper, is constantly used in the industry, everywhere.

I always think of all the movies that copied the Matrix slowmo effects. You could see it in a ton of movies until the point that it became the cheesiest effect ever. They worked so well in Matrix because they visually explained how reality was bent beyond physics, helping the story, but they were copied lacking that same reason, just because "they look cool".

Anyway, at least we have considerable guarantee that Bioware knows what they're doing, and they will make design decisions based on wisdom. I also believe there's quite a big niche of people who like Warcraft but have grown a bit tired of it, and are waiting for a real alternative to move to, so they might find their niche.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Abel Oroz on 10th February 2011 7:13pm

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