I think most Massively Multiplayer Game developers have lost their way over the last 4 years. Ever since the success of World of Warcraft other developers have focused on WoW and EverQuest as the primary source of inspiration for game mechanics. What developers don’t seem to remember is that WoW and EQ drew their inspiration from other genre’s because a MMO genre didn’t exist at the time.
Game developers are focusing on taking what was good in another MMO rather than trying to invent something new. I think it’s fairly closed minded to blame the lack of innovation on Blizzard though. You can’t blame them for making a game so popular everyone wants to mimic it. What developers need to realize is that Blizzard never set out or expected to be this game developer. When they created World of Warcraft the ideal market was 200,000 subscribers.
If a game developer would step outside the box and try creating their own content based on innovative ideas rather than copy and pasting from Blizzard we would see another strong success in the market place. Game developers fear failure though. They aren’t creating the game they want to play anymore, they are creating a game they think they can sell. Developers use to design games based on how they wanted a game to play and to this day you see that with WoW. The game gets updates and changes based on what the development team wants to play. Other games need to take a note from this.
The sad thing about MMOs is I think that no one is willing to be different. Sure a few small companies have tried with games like Darkfall and Mortal Online, but no one with a large budget. Until a large developer is willing to step up back a development team who makes a game they want to play rather than what the accountants think will sell WoW will remain on top.
The sad thing is I don’t think anyone is going to do this until Blizzard does this. I have a feeling Blizzard is the only developer willing to make another game they want to play. They don’t have to worry about “cloning” WoW because they ARE WoW. A lot of people say it’s harder to be on top because you have nowhere to go but down, but in this case I think it’s the best place. Blizzard doesn’t want to dethrone the king; they just want to create another Kingdom. No matter how small or big it is as long as they don’t steal their own customers they will continue to make a profit.