Back when Trion Worlds unveiled their Rift pre-launch trailer a couple months ago, they took a mixture of cheers and criticism for using the tagline “We’re not in Azeroth anymore.” By drawing a comparison to the top-of-the-market MMO from the start, it seemed the game was inviting more of a comparison from gamers familiar to the world of Azeroth who would instead argue that Rift was a WoW clone, or that it had drawn ideas and parallels to WoW.
I’m not here to argue for or against that — I personally have not played Rift, so I’m not qualified to make that comparison. And while I do love WoW, I also wouldn’t call myself a fangirl. There’s many aspects of the game that I feel could be improved upon, and in fact I hope that strong competition continues to come forward so that Blizzard is forced to keep innovating and keeping Azeroth a fun place to be.
But I do think that Trion Worlds’ assertive stance against WoW in the trailer was a bold marketing move that has worked. It brought a buzz about Rift. Even those who were openly decrying the tagline were still talking about the game. And a lot of people who otherwise may have never looked into the game were exposed to news about it from WoW-centric blogs who covered the trailer because of that open comparison. Perhaps this is where trouble began to brew.
But in the past few weeks since the release of Rift, it seems that some members of the MMO community have been rattled. Many WoW guilds have experienced losses in their ranks from members who migrated to the new game and canceled their WoW subscriptions. Some players took it personally. I don’t know exactly when or where it started, but blogs became the targets for gamers who were frustrated on both ends.
Loyal WoW players would comment on Rift-centric posts blasting the newcomer game. Rift players who were enjoying the new game defended it, and in turn took shots at WoW. Anything posted about either game became a target for Rift vs. WoW flame wars. As they tend to do, the flame wars became more of a war of WoW players versus Rift players, in which the WoW players were deemed to be old-fashioned fanboys who couldn’t take it when WoW was compared to a superior game, even though any other MMO in the past six years is automatically compared to WoW. And the Rift players were characterized as WoW deserters who didn’t know enough about their beloved new game to defend it against the competition. It’s been ugly.
We’ve seen it to a lesser degree here at Lore Hound, where we are critical of our games but at the same time try not to judge them if we haven’t played them enough to be qualified to do so. But even here, we’ve seen fallout. Which, really, is what got me thinking about this whole mess to begin with.
Among bloggers, the discussion led to one regarding sites that previously had been WoW-only now also covering Rift. Personally, I think bloggers should write about whatever catches their fancy, but I also see the value of keeping a blog on-topic. And I also understand that for the readers who really were there for the WoW content, seeing Rift alongside it was almost akin to rubbing salt in their wounds when they were down about losing WoW friends to the new game. Oh, and it encouraged the flame wars to continue.
Seemingly annoyed with all the flames (and also showing his sense of humor), British WoW blogger Reala responded by creating a “Rift-Free-Zone” button for WoW bloggers to advertise their site as containing WoW-only content. And perhaps less drama because of it, though I wonder if posting such a button in some ways is just inviting more drama.
Anyhow, I think it’s about time to get to my point: there will always be drama in the world. Why make more for ourselves by making something out of nothing? Games will come and go, and in MMOs the players are the ones who bring joy to a game by being the people who fill it and add the all-important social aspect to it. It lessens the impact of the online world if all those players are full of animosity toward others.
Plus, why should you carry that anger, anyways? As I hinted at earlier, it’s a good thing when games have competition. It encourages innovations and new gameplay features, streamlines UIs, and unique experiences — all things which contribute to our overall in-game experience. Gamers should be delighted that both WoW and Rift have competition from each other, and from other games. If they didn’t, neither one would be quite like they are today.
If you love a game, yes by all means defend it. But keep your arguments on-point and about the game. Discuss what it is about a game that makes you love it. Don’t be afraid to admit that there may be some aspects you don’t love as much as others — and if someone is making a point that a different game does that one thing better, then maybe instead of shying away or getting defensive, you should give that other game a shot. You may hate it. It may validate that the game you have chosen is the right one for you. But you also may enjoy a change of pace. And it’s not treason if you decide to switch games or share time between two or more different games — that’s what the free market is all about.
Remember that people are allowed, and expected, to have different opinions. It’s human nature. If one person disdains a game that you love, it doesn’t make them a horrible person — it just means they have different tastes. No big deal.
Making things personal makes you a troll. And not the cute Jamaican variety with tusks. Most of you who comment here don’t have that issue and leave thoughtful comments that encourage conversation and not flaming. But things can easily get out of hand when a troll is introduced to the mix.
Plus, it’s online, people. You can never win an online argument. It just won’t happen. I welcome a sane discussion below.
And now, for those of you who haven’t seen it, a look at the trailer that (perhaps) started it all: