OSRS and Tibia are a exception for this from wangrui's blog

Blame Wow, it stole all the cake which investors and cheap OSRS gold developers all replicate the version and got too much success. If wow did not possess such a major subscriber count we'd see more developers risk, OSRS and Tibia are a exception for this because they are so old and predate wow. Id state Albion is a exception but it's not my cup of tea and that I have zero expectations that we will actually get a game since mmo players are use to the wow progression version. It's successful because it is battle and core gameplay in times of devastating game layout was still the very best in the genre and it is not going away.

And to be honest, I can not see how developers can not risk because of WoW. Yeah afk grinders which OP discusses in this thread can't be developed by them, but there was never any risk in that. An MMO with fluid combat would still get financed daily, developers just need to show a demo with this kind of combat. Than finest in the genre to the time, it's only it piggybacked on all the hype caused by being associated to the favorite warcraft collection. That combined with the fact that the majority of its features were streamlined enough to cater to a wider audience i.e. no punishment upon passing, straightforward leveling purely through quests, basically all the groundwork for what we now know as themepark MMOs.

Hype is an incentive. Would gameplay be bad people would not stick for long. Just like in any mmo that was getting hype and fame of"wowkiller" then. The genre has been stuck in a limbo between rpg and activity genres, never delivering on any of it. Sure mmos in 2003 were nice if you are a fan of mindless grind without any challenge to your skill, but at the exact same time single player games with deep, gratifying and just very good gameplay even to this day were releasing at the moment. No shit MMOs were a market. WoW simply broke the cycle allowing to emerge.

In most of the west MMOs have been a niche but over here where shittons of people played them together in computer bangs/cybercafes/internet cafes or whatever you call them. These online cafes didnt catch in most areas outside asia and eastern europe since having private PCs for gambling was not actually something here back then, but in the areas where they caught, mmorpgs were booming and single player matches were less popular because it was far easier to set up an MMO while people would purchase playtime through prepaid game cards than getting a bunch of copies of singleplayer games legally(so you'd have largely illegal copies of warcraft/starcraft/GTA/half of life so much as single player games go).

At some stage warcraft III got pretty popular due to custom maps like dota, td, etc which was pretty much one of the chief reasons why people must understand world of warcraft over here. Wow had simple compact features but had reasonable thickness in regards into it though I wouldn't discredit everything else which existed alongside and old school runescape buy gold earlier wow as"disastrous game design".

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By wangrui
Added Jul 13 '20



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