Vanguard: Freedom of Warcraft

Brad McQuaid wrote:

WoW is a fantastic game, but Vanguard is designed with additional polish but also additional depth and freedom to experience more from a virtual world.

I thought Vanguard was designed with additional torture challenges intended to give the player a sense of achievement?

Before I get too into bun-throwing, I really do find it strange to be seeing Brad postulating that Vanguard will draw WoW players. I seem to recall much rhetoric about how Vanguard wasn’t targeting WoW players. Brad might counter that these are simply people who are playing WoW now because they aren’t Vanguard players yet…

But surely the typical WoW player buys into the game precisely because of its lack of depth and its Mac’n’cheese sense of achievement? Surely the Tolkeinesque depth and struggle of Vanguard is what those people aren’t looking for? As selling points, Brad underlines the very things that make WoW players look at Vanguard as interesting?

A lot of people have laid out their vision of Vanguard in the past and there is a folklore surrounding Vanguard that incriminates various Brad statements as alluding to the notion that Vanguard didn’t want WoW’s customers – that those were the people who had pissed in the pool of excellence that was Everquest (before Sony stole and ruined the show).

Brad’s official comments on the matter are usually much tamer making no claim bolder than an intent to recapture the excitement of freshness that came with ones’ first experience of early Everquest.

So I don’t know for certain that Blizzard’s target audience for WoW doesn’t overlap strongly with Vanguard’s. But the broadly held perception is that it doesn’t.

Which begs the question as to why Brad would wantto be capturing WoW customers; customers who surely will want all the very same kinds of accommodations that Everquest eventually succumbed to.

2 Comments

re: slacker

The dishes don’t do themselves :)

Go kill something :)

Greed :)

Am I correct in surmising that the market (in english speaking countries) for MMO’s prior to WoW was probably measurable in tens of thousands, not millions. Most games were pretty happy to get 100K subscribers. Somehow WoW has expanded the market to millions. What is the latest count, 9 million subscribers? And that a lot of games in development, if not the devs themselves, but the financial backers, are trying to grab a piece of that big pie that WoW has baked?

WoW’s a good gateway game. It runs on low end computers and runs well, it is easy to learn to play, and has a huge amount of content. You don’t have to think too much. There isn’t a very deep storyline, however, and the end game is to raid, raid, raid.

Problem is transitioning these players from an essentially intro-easy mode-beginner MMO to a different MMO.

For example, I’ve been in the LOTRO beta now for some months and we’re starting to see a lot of WoW players coming in (they’re giving away keys like crazy, in magazines, etc.) and you see a few types arguing about MMO’s on the region-wide chat channels (the WoW is better/no it’s not debate is incessant):

1) Never played a MMO before WoW, hit the endgame, tired of the grind; they can’t believe the level cap just got jacked up 10 more levels and they have to go through it all over again. They are attracted by the deep backstory of LOTRO and the fact that the game is not on ‘easy mode.’

2) Never played an MMO before WoW, and complain incessantly about how WoW is better. Quests in LOTRO don’t give you an arrow telling you exactly where to go, sometimes you have to figure out what the directions mean based on knowledge of terrain (or go exploring if knowledge is insufficent). It is also a group focused game; many quests cannot be completed without a full group of players. Grinding, or just finding a level of mob you can kill over and over again, is not a viable option. At level 20, with 10K XP until next level, killing a same level or even 1-2 level higher mob will net a grand 30-50 XP. A quest will net 600-900XP and a often a decent item.

These are the players who ask incessantly: Where is X? How do I find Y? and get angry when they are told: Read the quest notes! (Reminds me of the early WWIIOL days, RTFM!)

3) Played other MMO’s, which have declined, and are hoping to recapture a previous experience (Asheron’s call, Dark age of Camelot, Ultima Online being the 3 most mentioned), or are simply playing for free, or looking for something to tide them over until Warhammer. These players are often disappointed in both WoW PvP (no persistent world, horrific grinding for meaningless titles etc.) or LOTRO’s relative lack (you can’t play evil races, and they won’t allow elves spanking hobbits).

I grouped with a guy in LOTRO who told us privately that he was a dev. Dunno if we believe him, he didn’t give us his name, but he seemed to know a heck of a lot of minutiae about the game. Someone asked if LOTRO was going to be able to compete with WoW. He said something like well, you got tons of burger chains, you want to open not just one but a chain of more expensive french restaurants. You don’t want to offer happy meals, drive throughs, plastic tables and harsh lighting and no-dress code, but how do you get that customer base the burger chains got to stop eating at home to come out to your place dressed nicer etc.

Whoever figures that out…

He seemed to agree that they aren’t necessarily trying to get all the bums with no shoes no shirt to come, but on the other hand, who wouldn’t like to have that huge a player/customer base.

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