Let’s face it: World of Warcraft is the standard to which other newly minted MMO’s are compared. It’s the elephant in every room in every competing developers office. Because, as we’ve no choice but admit, every other major MMO is competing with WoW. Sure, to some extent with each other as well, but the prize is the amazing subscriber numbers that Blizzard has been able to amass. While we’ve seemed to move on past the point where every significant launch is heralded as the ‘death knell of WoW’ (Aion, Rift, SWTOR, etc), there’s always still that cautious eye raised towards the king of the mountain. Will it be dethroned or will the latest challenger fail to even shake its lofty perch? Of course, even with its pet behemoth, Blizzard has to be concerned when a new contender arises. And they’d be fools to not take a few preemptive strikes…
- Guild Wars 2 released August 28, 2012. Blizzard pushed out the Mists of Pandaria systems pre-patch the same day.
- Star Trek Online released February 2, 2010. Wow’s patch 3.3.2 launched the same day which opened the last wing of Icecrown Citadel and the Lich King encounter – arguable the most anticipated fight in the game even to this day.
- Aion released September 22, 2009. Wow launched a revamped classic raid on the same day.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic released December 20th, 2011. The final patch of Cataclysm launched less than a month sooner which included a raid, dungeons, and a new zone.
A Cause for Concern and the Response
“WildStar development started in 2005, after 17 former members of Blizzard Entertainment founded Carbine Studios.” – Wiki. These members were quoted as wanting to do “anything but WoW” and to be able to start over and not make the same mistakes as before. Most games that face off against WoW don’t seem to understand their competition. Carbine studios knows. And from my experience in the beta and launch so far… they learned from their predecessors. So what has Blizzard done about it? On the day that Wildstar is set for early access launch, Blizzard announces double valor gains (the currency that buys the best purchasable gear). Just a few days before that, they announce a permanent 100% drop rate for legendary items on the 28th. Both of these buffs to rewards are clearly to encourage extra play… and to be put into place right now? Too convenient for coincidence, I’d say.
Is It Enough?
I’m not going to say that Wildstar can “beat” WoW. But, of all the new MMO’s I’ve seen and played in the past few years, it’s in the best position to give it a run for its money. Every major feature that has cemented Wows superiority is present in Wildstar. They’ve got PVP including rated and unrated arenas / battlegrounds AND warplots (a feature Wow doesn’t have). Wildstar has raids and dungeons WITH the dungeon finder then also adventures. They have player housing (which Wow is adding in the next expansion after years of people asking for it.. more coincidence?). Of course, then there is far more character customization during both the creation process and after with the dye and costume system. Unfortunately for Blizzard, they had nothing new to put in-game and their newest expansion is still months away. So, they dropped some additional rewards for players. But is it enough to help keep their perch safe?