The lively discussion around the term “WoW-killer” over at Kill Ten Rats has given rise to some tangential thoughts and I didn’t want to clutter up Ethic’s comments with only marginally on-topic stuff.
Specifically, part of what makes a game a “WoW-killer” might be how players view it in terms of their own attachment to WoW*. Is this a game that will make them leave WoW and move over for good to something else? I hadn’t considered that, because WoW wasn’t a “make your home here” game for me in the first place — I’m just not the right kind of player for WoW’s primary focus (though boy, do I love some of the fluff! Pets! Non combat pets! Say no more).
From there, I wondered yet again what makes a game more than a game — an online home, so to speak. A place where you don’t just log on to kill things, you log on to hang with your homies and do stuff that isn’t strictly-speaking game-centric, i.e. stuff that you could just as easily do in IRC, but that isn’t nearly as much fun that way.
Asheron’s Call was like that for me, and – not coincidentally – was my first MMO. Many players had the same reaction to their first MMO, be it EQ, UO, AC, and of course more recently, WoW; it would be naive to ignore the fact that probably more people played WoW as their first MMO than played all of the prior MMOs put together. (OK it’s an opinion, since it’s not supported by data, but I’m pretty confident it’s not too far off the money.)
Since then, I’ve tried many times to recapture that sense of kinship, community, cameraderie in various newer MMOs. It’s hard to do; it may be impossible. But then, the desire itself may be impossible. Nothing after the first time will ever be the first time again — the water under that particular bridge is long gone. Nonetheless, I (optimistically?) believe it’s possible to find that “MMO-home” feeling in any game, provided it fills your specific needs.
In that sense, WAR might very well be a “WoW-killer” for me; well, it already is, since I don’t actually play WoW anymore, but you know what I mean. Hooking up with Casualties of WAR alongside my long, long-time tribe from AC (+just about every other MMO produced since), the Knights Who Say Ni (where I go by the name of Eloise, long story), is pretty sure to make WAR a busy, social, sociable, entertaining, laughter-filled experience. Which is what will set it apart from every other game I’m not playing – WoW included.
* thanks for the food for thought, Bowman!