Blizzard’s New MMORPG – More Of The Same, Or New And Improved?

Posted by Stropp on February 16, 2009 Warcraft Formula GuideThe big Blizzard news of the last week was the transfer of Jeff Kaplan (Tigole) from the World of Warcraft team as lead designer to a lead role on the team developing Blizzard's new MMO, World of Unnamedcraft. Kaplan, as Tobold suggests, is the reason that World of Warcraft is such a raid centric game. He was a hardcore raider in Everquest and the inference is that Kaplan bought that influence into WoW. It leads into one of the rumors that Kaplan is moving on because Blizzard have recently softened WoW raiding, making it more casual. Maybe. But the truth is that any raiding in the original Everquest required a hardcore, achievement focused mindset. Tigole wouldn't have been alone in the WoW dev team. Blizzard would have sourced quite a few developers from the ranks of the veteran (pre-2002/03) massive gamer ranks. Anyway the conclusion is that this will lead to many of the same design principles being incorporated into Blizzard's new MMORPG, whatever it is going to be. Well, that's all great as a rumor, but it doesn't necessarily follow. There are a few factors that will determine if hardcore raiding will be a part of the game or not.
  1. Blizzard's new MMORPG might not be a hardcore game at all. It's entirely possible that Blizzard will aim for the other end of the casual market. There are more than a few Asian MMORPG's that are doing extremely well indeed. One or two of them have more subscribers that World of Warcraft. Could Blizzard be aiming at that market?
  2. Blizzard's next MMORPG might be a hardcore game after all, but it might not be PvE focused. A solid PvP or RvR experience, perhaps like Warhammer Online, would not really need hardcore raiding.
  3. Raiding might not be appropriate to the setting. Blizzard might attempt to try something really different in their next MMO. It's been suggested they might attempt an Eve/Elite style game. Would that sort of game be suitable for Hardcore raiding.
I'm thinking that Blizzard will try to move away from the way that they've designed World of Warcraft. The prime reason for this is simple. Competition. They are not going to want to compete with themselves. Blizzard's goal will be to draw in players who have never played a MMORPG before, and the players who have stopped playing World of Warcraft (and MMORPG's in general) who would number in the millions. They won't want to draw people out of WoW. So my bet is that Blizzard's new MMORPG will be very different from World of Warcraft, and possibly most of the other MMORPG's on the market. Jeff Kaplan is probably enjoying himself with work that is very different than what he is used to doing. Of course, anything is possible.

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  1. Blue Kae Said,

    I’m not entirely sure that Blizzard will be avoiding having their new MMO compete with WoW. Consider how long it is going to be before the new game comes out, versus how long they can continue to grow WoW and release expansions. Their plan might be to have this new game come out around the time that their WoW subscription numbers start to decline, so that instead of cannibalizing their own customers they are shifting them to a new game instead of losing them to competitors.

  2. Stropp Said,

    There will certainly be some players who leave WoW and head to Blizzard’s new game, but I think Blizzard will be working to minimize that happening.

    As for release dates, I suspect possibly 12 to 18 months. Blizz have a tendency to not announce anything until they have something solid. When we get the name and genre of the new game, I’d suspect it’s scheduled for release within 12 months.

    WoW isn’t going anywhere in that time. I can’t see it losing a significant number of subscribers. Don’t forget, 12 to 18 months is in the timeframe of a new WoW expansion. If anything, subscriber numbers could be boosted.

  3. Mr.Chronic Said,

    I still think there is alot to be done in the world of warcraft. It might be very possible that they have 2 more expansions ( although i have never read the books) leaving them more then enough time to work on this new mmo. I dont see this game coming out for another 2-3 years atleast imo, look how long it is taking them to make starcraft 2. They have been talking about the expansion for AGES i was 13 when they started talking about it…IM 21 now, and still nothing..lol…

  4. Stropp Said,

    I think there will be a lot more than just two expansions. I very much expect WoW to have a lifespan exceeding another ten years. EQ1 is still a viable MMORPG after ten years and, even with a reduced number of subscribers, are still releasing expansions regularly.

    Even if another game knocks WoW off as king of the hill, it’s likely the subscriber count will be in the millions for years, maybe even ten years or more.

    Blizzard don’t need to scrimp and save on WoW to build the new game. Team members might change, but the teams will be kept up to capacity.

  5. Alex Girs Said,

    I really can’t think of a Blizzard doing an MMO of Starcraft or Diablo. Since Warcraft have incomparable amounts of lore compared to starcraft and diablo combined, thei simply don’t have a story to make such game.

    As a extremely dedicated Blizzard follower, I expect them to do something radical. Something in their style, Original. They haven’t really copied other games that much.

    A point against my earlier opinion, Blizzard have been extremely faithful to the franchises, it’s almost clear they’d be continuing one of the two other games with an expansion. Then again, Starcraft 2 is coming and it have been parted into three different games, and Diablo 3 coming too, it would be inconvenient for them to release another product to those series.

    As for WoW, honestly I believe it’s going to last for more than 10 years. I think there are extremely few games with growth comparable to WoW, that fell in a few years. WoW is going to last for a long time. WoW have so much to offer, that even though I’ve played it for 2 years now, with an average of 3-5 hours a day, I still feel that I’m missing more than half of the game.

    Waiting for the new MMO is going to be interesting and I’m really waiting for it.

  6. Blizzards New MMORPG - Will It Be Hardcore? | Stropp's World Said,