Blizzards New MMORPG – Will It Be Hardcore?

Posted by Stropp on March 5, 2009 The term hardcore has been bandied around a lot recently, due in no small part to the release of Darkfall, and the very determined community that has grown around it over the long years of it's development. One of the catch-cries of this group, aside from the high-level use of the F-Word in telling other players what they think, is to tell anyone who criticises Darkfall to go back to WoW, usually with some combination of carebear and the F-Word included. [adsense_id="1"]So it got me wondering. It seems clear that there is a percentage of the World of Warcraft community who would enjoy playing in a more hardcore MMORPG than is currently offered in WoW, but aren't ready for the extremes that existing hardcore games employ. The movement of Jeff "Tigole" Kaplan to Blizzard's new MMORPG team could be a sign that a somewhat more hardcore game is in the works. Kaplan is an old-school Everquest raider, and was responsible for implementing much of the raid content in the "Old" World of Warcraft -- much of what has been casualified in recent times. Could the new team be looking for hardcore content? I'm a believer in the principle that you don't want to shoot yourself in the foot when it comes to releasing a new MMORPG, especially a sequel. SOE made that mistake to some extent when they released Everquest 2. They hurt the player base of both games by splitting the existing players. I think that Blizzard would be keenly aware of this, and will be trying to avoid it as much as possible. And that's why I think that Blizzard's new MMORPG will be a new IP. But I also think that they will be trying for a different segment of the market, and the most underserved segment at the moment is the set of hardcore players. And despite the success, or lack thereof, of Darkfall, that situation isn't likely to change unless a developer comes into the picture with a polished feature-complete game that suits a wide range of hardcore players.  Is it possible that Blizzard is looking to be that developer?
  1. Harmen Said,

    Let’s define ‘hardcore’ in the context of an MMO for fun. It seems to be related to have the posibillity of going backwards, to undo progress.
    Full loot means you can end up with less gear then when you started. An XP penalty on death means the same but for stats.

    Blizzard cannot endlessly go on tacking extensions to their MMO. It’ll get too big: probably too unmaintainable in a technical and balance perspective. It’ll be too hard for new players to join since they have to catch up way too much (which is already the case IMHO).
    A new Blizzard MMO will have much more emphasis on PvP. It’s cheap to make since players keep themselves busy, no need to make lots of quests. It’s a lot more interesting then endless dailies. And people are more used to multiplayer nowadays and when introduced in a friendly way more could like it.

    But it will never be ‘hardcore’, when that’s defined as above. Playing WoW is the equivalent to watching television. You’re encouraged to think a little, but never too much. You feel satisfied when you answer the weekend-millionair question correct or down that boss. And it’s good in that role. It is a nice way to relax. But it just makes way to much money _not_ to be followed up by something alike.

  2. Stropp Said,

    There also seems to be a tendency for hardcore to mean doing things the the hard way. Travel for instance should be long and anything that shortens it, spoils the game. Raids should also be long and difficult with one mistake undoing everything. Perhaps where we get confused is between the definitions of Hardcore Player and Hardcore Game.

    I agree that WoW is getting top heavy, and Blizzard seem to be determined to keep adding to the top. I think you’re correct about that causing serious problems for WoW in the future. SOE has the right idea with the expansions for EQ2. They regularly add content sideways, and build up the middle of the game, not just the ends.

    I think Blizzard has learned a lot about how to make and run a MMORPG. They’ve made mistakes too, and I think they’ll learn from them with this new MMORPG. I don’t doubt they’ll use what has been successful with World of Warcraft, but I think they’ll strike out in a new direction for the new MMORPG.

    PvP especially is one of the things they haven’t done so well with WoW. I think that will be done right (hopefully) in the new game.

  3. Harmen Said,

    To me ‘doing things the the hard way’ is just the simple Elitist thing. It’s the easiest way to be better than most of the rest since most can’t put the time in. But you can, since you’re just flunking your studies.

  4. B Said,

    The thing is, the “hardcore” segment isn’t really that big. Blizzard goes for the biggest slice of the pie they can get, that is why Blizzard games never require cutting edge PC technology to run and why every Blizzard game has sold a boatload of copies.

    The success of WoW is due to all the casual gamers playing it, I can pretty much guarantee Blizzard will continue to cater to that segment- you don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

  5. Tom Said,

    It’s important to realize this new MMO they announced is just in the beginning stages.

    It will likely take between 4 to 6 years for it to be released. (Possibly More)

    The main reason Blizzard is making a new MMO now is because in the next few years they will undoubtedly have competition amongst other games and WoW’s fanbase will be in a steady decline.

    I also believe it’s fair to say that WoW only has 2 more expansions left after WotLK. As far as the Warcraft storyline is concerned anyway. So by the time these expansions (along with WotlK) have been played out Blizzard will be ready to get all of its WoW fans addicted to its Next-Gen crack.

  6. Stropp Said,

    @Tom – possibly. Blizzard do tend to wait a while before announcing a work in progress, so it could be around halfway through development. On the other hand, they do like to take their time, so it could be a few years away too.

    At the very least, I’m hoping — and expecting — that they give us some details about this game sometime this year. If they do, there won’t be a release date announced, probably not even a year in the time frame.

  7. Kayd Said,

    I think it would be a great marketing move because I think many “pundits” in the MMORPG market are vastly underestimating the audience for a MMORPG focused on challenging the player. However, I would define “hardcore” not as having the EQ feature set, because many things in EQ were distinctly not challenging, such as getting money, which many people did by camping high loot value mobs several levels below them. I think a game would really take off that attemped to plug those kinds of holes and make gaining levels, or money, or equipment, or prestige or whatever you get in the game requirer taking risks, developing skill, making good judvgement calls, and generally becoming better at the game.

  8. Nick Said,

    I honestly don’t think any of you quite have what they mean by a hardcore game. Anyone that played old everquest back in 99/00 will have some idea of what I’m talking about. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a game that pushes you down, or makes a huge time investment. It’s about having a game that doesn’t just simply hand you everything. Anyone that has played a paper and dice RPG knows that part of making a good story is making one that leaves people guessing and challenges them to solve a problem. WoW HAS no challenge at most levels of the game. And what it HAS had on the raid end has been made much easier over the years. The “Hardcore” group of gamers are looking for a game that actually requires some thought to accomplish something, and not just another cookie cutter quest game. kill 10 of these, kill this boss mob, find all the easter eggs!, etc.
    More over I think a lot of what people are looking for in a game is depth. One of the great things about old EQ were GM driven events. An Actor, GM, or Guide, can add a whole lot of depth to a game, and I think that most MMO’s are missing that sort of a leader. One who makes the story take shape, and not just computer with a database of scripted replies. My grandma, god rest her, could have made level 80 in WoW inside a month. It shouldn’t be THAT easy

  9. Edwin Said,

    Blizzard making hardcore game? Won’t happen.

  10. Puntos Said,

    @ B
    Casuals may feed Blizzard now but it was the huge amount of real gamers that made WoW what it was. Masses from Everquest (because WoW was the real EQ 2), WC3 and even FPS games were all attracted to WoW and all signed up when it started. So many real gamers played it of course it started to catch onto the mainstream, just look at Leeroy Jenkins and the like. It got into Youtube and on TV, at first it was known as ‘where the geeks/nerds were’ but more and more people found out about it and joined on. Soon enough Blizzard got so much that there were able to hire notable persons and from then on it just grew.

    To the point where it is now, where it is more of a cross-breed between Peggle and Facebook. You meet the friends you have in real life there instead of the game forcing your to make friends like MMORPGs should. Things are now handed to you over the course of time through easy grinds that you have to do every single day. There is little difference between classes, sure hybrids had it harder back in Vanilla and they couldn’t do everything, now they can and every class is giving the same DPS the same tanking abilities and the same healing. Anyway, hopefully the true MMORPG can come back again, otherwise the genre is pretty much ruined.

  11. Dillon Said,

    In honest opinon, I do believe Wow has quite ruined itself. I would consider myself a, currently, casual gamer. I work full time and take a few school classes but what hooked me to wow in my early high school days wasvery simple. Excellent content, simplistic yet a little complex in perfect harmony. Wonderous PvP abilities and of course a rich, scenic, enviorment. However, I believe the most important aspect, and what keeps me loggin on, were the colorful companions i encountered. A strong, fun group with similar interests and life styles creates an extremely addictive tone. Unfortunatly the years went by and the nesescity for “teaming up” with players has nearly been eliminated. In additon it is frowned upon to add your own flare or get slightly into character. What happened? I believe the game just got too casual and started wrecking its foundations that made it such a great game. Hopefully this new MMO fixes this. Make it challenging but not dauntingly impossible. Make us require player interaction but not base our playing habits around it. Give us a greater opportuinity for realm pvp. Bring us a great game

  12. Has Blizzard Ruined WoW? | Stropp's World Said,