Famous last words

Everyone’s familiar with the famous last words list – you know, the RPG one. Here’s one:

I’ll take off my armor so I’m silent and slip past the dragon.

In a recent discussion about whether Warhammer Online is a failure or not, someone brought up a Marc Jacobs interview. One of his quotes has become synonimous with WAR’s failure to keep the 1M subscribers it got after launch:

“The corollary to that is if you’ve seen a game consolidate servers, you know it’s in deep, deep trouble — that’s not a healthy sign for an MMO,” he said, citing Sony’s January-released “Pirates of the Burning Sea” as a recent example. “It will be the same for ‘Warhammer.’ Look at us six months out. Look at us six weeks out. If we’re not adding servers, we’re not doing well.”

By his very own definition, WAR failed spectacularly but was there any other way? For all practical purposes, Blizzard has come up with the FORD MODEL T of MMOs. They will milk it for decade (at least) and hope that their next model (TITAN) will capture WoW’s market share.

However, there are other factors making it even harder to beat a blockbuster MMO. For one, it’s the networking effects – chances are your friends play WoW rather than ANY other MMO. Even more important however is the fact that most of WoW’s players are first-time MMO players. They are happy with Blizzard and have little incentive to change the supplier of their MMO.

Even though there’s many WoW clones that hope to capitalize on these first-time MMO players, the only ones that are doing OK are free-to-play ones that solve the issue of the subscription fee. To use another analogy, the only way to beat Windows is through a free (or dirt cheap) *nix OS, like Mac OS or the many Linux distros.

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