4 Games That Could Beat WoW (But Probably Won't)

Posted: Jul 30 2009, 6:00am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 11 2010, 3:34pm CDT , in Gaming


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World of Warcraft is, without a doubt, the most successful MMORPG in the history of gaming. It's created a cultural sensation that's swept out of the sweaty caves of nerdkind and into mainstream society. WoW is such an icon in the industry that any big game in development is instantly scrutinized by gamers and the gaming media for its potential to 'beat' Blizzard's titan.

So why was World of Warcraft such a huge hit? The only thing 'new' WoW brought to the table was an Auction House system, and that was just a slight evolution of several ideas already in existence. Blizzard didn't really try anything new or risky with World of Warcraft, they just refined what was there and streamlined everything to make it accessible. This was a stroke of genius.

WoW may not have had many 'new' ideas, but it did appeal to new people. Soccer moms, lifelong DnD players, jocks, Everquest nerds, and seven-year-old kids could all log on, create a character, and find something about the game to enjoy. WoW didn't appeal to everyone, but it appealed to enough people to make Blizzard more money than God.

But WoW's age is passing. Someone will have to pick up its crown, and I think there's a good chance it's one of these five upcoming games.

4. Star Trek Online

Developer Cryptic

Release Date: TBA

The Skinny: Star Trek Online is the game that millions of nerds have been waiting their whole lives for. Cryptic claims to have rendered virtually the entire Star Trek universe in glorious 3D graphics. ST:O takes the series forward into the 25th century for the first time and lets players take control of either a Federation or Klingon ship.

Why It Could Beat WoW:

The gigantic Star Trek fanbase means that this game is going to sell a ton of copies on launch day, and the recent success of the revamp of the movie series means that there is a greater deal of interest in the franchise than ever before.

ST:O brings something very new to the genre. The fact that your starships have crews that you can recruit and train sets Star Trek apart from other space fighters like Eve. Ships in ST:O will be much more customizable than anything we've seen up until now.

Customization seems to be key in Star Trek Online. Players won't just have a high degree of control over their ship, they'll be able to create whole new races for their character. Presumably, this game comes with a gigantic wad of colored putty.

And Why It Probably Won't:

Star Trek Online looks like a very deep, rich game. Unfortunately, it also looks like a very complicated game. In ground missions, you'll take control of 5 member away teams. That means in any given ground mission you have to worry about ordering around 5 AI companions. I suppose it's possible that ST:O has a ground-breaking subordinate AI system, but I'll have to see this in action to stop thinking that it's a terrible idea.

Games that get too complex tend to push away casual gamers in favor of MMOs like WoW, where a casual player can put very little-to-no real effort in and still do things like raid with a moderate degree of success. I think ST:O is going to be a fantastic MMO, and I've no doubt it'll sell well, but I'd be very surprised if it can make even a noticeable dent in WoW's subscriber base.

3. Star Wars: The Old Republic

Developer: Bioware

Release Date: TBA

The Skinny:

To be entirely honest, I felt that Knights of the Old Republic was a better Star Wars movie than at least five of the actual Star Wars movies. The plot was really solid, the voice acting was top-notch, and the time period in the Star Wars universe they brought to life was really interesting. It's no wonder there's so much buzz around Star Wars: The Old Republic, the MMORPG successor to KOTOR.

You'll be able to choose between Sith and Republic. All the classes and races haven't been announced yet, but Bounty Hunters (Sith) and Smugglers (Republic) are IN. Decisions you make in game will bring your character closer to the Light or the Dark side, and you may-or-may-not get to fly bitchin' spaceships.

I'm just kidding. It's Star Wars, you'll totally get to fly bitchin' space ships.

Why It Could Beat WoW:

Because every male child in America is a Star Wars nerd at some point in his life, and many of them stay that way forever. TOR has the largest built-in interest base of any MMO in history.

And Why It Probably Won't:

Unfortunately, we know next to nothing about the actual game play in Star Wars: TOR. I've got faith in Bioware, but this is their first stab at a game like this, and Star Wars MMO's have a very nasty history.

This isn't a hard-and-fast 'no', but we'll need to hear more details about gameplay mechanics and what, if any, new features TOR intends to bring to the table. Until we hear more, I'm keeping a worried eye on Star Wars: The Old Republic.

2. Global Agenda

Developer: Hi-Rez Studios

Release Date: TBA

The Skinny:

Like Planetside before it, Global Agenda is an MMOFPS. Unlike Planetside it has PvE combat, gorgeous graphics, spies, better giant robots, and cooler bases. It's a spy-fi action thriller based around instanced team-based combat in groups as small as 10v10 or as large as 60v60.

For more information on GA, check out the interview I did with their developers here.

Why It Could Beat WoW:

Global Agenda is one of the rare games that brings a totally new concept to the table. It's called PvPE (Player Versus Player and Environment) and it allows players to enter the instance before their enemy and booby-trap their path, as well as prepare other surprises to give your side the advantage. PvPE adds an additional level of strategy to deathmatches.

The shooter market is one of the largest in gaming. A casual-friendly MMOFPS like GA has a good chance to draw in the tens of millions of casual gamers who found gaming through a series like Halo or Call of Duty.

Why It Probably Won't:

Check out the system specs. The beauty of WoW is that pretty much any rig made since the game's launch can play it without any trouble. Global Agenda is going to be a fairly taxing game. No PC gamer is going to have any issues playing this with his main rig, but to beat WoW Global Agenda's going to need to widen their base.

They need to take in soccer moms, little kids with parents that barely understand computers, college-age kids who've only ever played console FPSs and only have cheap-ass laptops or desktops primarily intended for schoolwork.

1. APB (All Points Bulletin)

Developer: Realtime Worlds

Release Date: TBA

The Skinny:

APB is a cyberpunk cops and robbers MMORPG set in a massive, persistent, populated city filled with thousands upon thousands of NPCs with lives and schedules and, most importantly, things to steal. Or, I guess, you could play Johnny Law and shoot bad guys. Whatever floats your boat.

In APB you share this gigantic city with 100 other players. That's the per-server cap (at least at the start) in this online sandbox game. Become an enforcer, a mob king, a SWAT cop, a police chief, or whatever else you can think of. APB promises to be extremely customizable.

Why It Could Beat WoW:

It's basically an MMORPG version of Grand Theft Auto 4. Think about that;an MMORPG version of Grand Theft Auto 4. People love to vent their rage at their jobs and spouses by committing horrific crimes in GTA's gigantic sandbox city. When you add other players to the mix, things get downright magical.

Why It Probably Won't: Because it's basically Grand Theft Auto 4, but an MMORPG. No sane parent would let their little kids play GTA 4, and none of them will let their kids play APB. The ultra-violent content is also going to alienate a lot of the older casual gamers that WoW manages to draw in.


I picked all four of these games because they all appear to be exceptional titles. They've got great teams behind them, interesting gameplay ideas, and a whole lot of promise. But I don't think any of them is going to be the next World of Warcraft.

To tell the truth, it's quite possible that there will never be another WoW, in the sense that there will probably never be another MMO that dominates the genre like World of Warcraft. It came at the right time, when online gaming was just starting to take off, and it appealed to a huge base of players. WoW was as big as it is because a confluence of events that isn't likely to come again in our lifetime.

On the other hand, it's quite possible that Blizzard's upcoming mystery MMO will sell twenty million copies in its first weekend and blow WoW out of the water. Chances are, we won't know for a very long time.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/5" rel="author">Robert Evans</a>
The excitement about new smartphones, tablets and anything mobile drive Robert to unearth the latest rumors and developments in this fast moving space. He adopted 4G as soon as it become available and knows where the mobile market is going.
Robert can be contacted directly at robert@i4u.com.




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