When we are talking about the events in MMO history that have caused a company to become reviled among the player base, the Star Wars: Galaxies NGE is frequently brought to the forefront. SOE still hasn’t lived down the whole debacle. It’s not even entirely clear that it was their idea, as I hear a lot of people who should know such things point their fingers at LucasArts. SOE would still be to blame for the timing, just days after an expansion shipped that a large percentage of their player base paid for. SOE or LucasArts, it’s hard to argue against that event being the nail in the coffin of SW:G’s hopes of world dominance.
With that as a background, Blizzard announces this week that they are going to make sweeping changes to their Goose in the hopes that it will continue to lay Golden Eggs at the same or an increasing rate. For the most part, other than the Horde getting screwed with gobby’s as a race when the Alliance is getting effing Werewolves, the player base looks at it and says a collective; “Hells yeah.”
What’s the difference?
Well there are many and fundamental differences. I won’t rehash what SOE did too much other than to say that they changed the fundamental nature of the game, some even say the genre. Blizzard is continuing it’s tradition of changing and rebalancing classes on a continual basis, but overall the fundamental game play will stay similar. There are going to be a LOT of new features in Cataclysm, but most of them are net-new stuff and won’t likely be viewed as take-aways. Blizzard is also giving us something that no other MMO company in my (admittedly faulty) memory has done, which is to go back and try to make the old, tired, and trivial content usable and playable again. I think this makes a lot of sense, because you can redevelop and area and make it good a lot faster than you can go and make new areas, and adding new stuff doesn’t address your abandoned content problem.
I don’t know how the Cataclysm is going to work out. I am willing to be they will sell a ton of it, but it remains to be seen how the whole things comes together. A lot can definitely go wrong. Blizzard’s track record suggests it probably will be mostly solid. We’ll see, I guess.
For now, I have to say that I’m impressed that they are willing to take a chance and do something bold. This is certainly bold, if nothing else. I hope it works out for them. There’s nothing I want more than a dilemma about whether I should be playing WoW or SWToR, or even Copernicus, if that is out during that time frame. Choices are what it’s all about. It’s going to be a while before we find out if this is a good one for Blizzard.