Is The Old Republic a WoW killer? Is the wolf finally coming?

With the hype train for The Old Republic picking up speed, many people are asking if this is going to be the MMO that will finally topple World of Warcraft from its throne, where it has been comfortably sitting for 7 years. So many MMO’s have been declared to be “WoW killers” over the years, from Warhammer Online, Age of Conan, to newer offerings like Stark Trek Online and Rift. In a classic case of “The boy who cried wolf” we’ve become pretty numb by now to all the claims that game X is going to kill WoW.

But perhaps we should actually consider ToR’s potential for pushing the old and bloated king out of his seat.

I think that there are three factors that together makes for a very real chance of ToR becoming a big success of WoW proportions.

1) The Star Wars Franchise

Of course the very obvious thing is that ToR is Star Wars. Though Lucas has done his best to tarnish the memory of the original trilogy, and has gifted us with a new set of films that are somewhere between “meeeh” and acceptable, Star Wars is still an incredibly popular universe. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything as cool as Lightsabers and Jedi, not to mention the chance to live out your dreams of UNLIMITED POWER as a lightning throwing Sith Inquisitor.

But we should of course also remember the lessons that Stark Trek Online, Warhammer Online and Star Wars Galaxies taught us about using a big franchise for you MMO. The lesson that simply setting your game in a popular universe is not going to be enough in itself. You have to actually wrap it around a compelling and entertaining game if you want to be a success.

 

2) Bioware is an established quality RPG developer

A lot of the other MMO’s that challenged WoW for position as top dog came from developers that were unproven. Bioware is a developer that has proven many times over that they know how to make a good and polished game. They have not previously made a MMO, but then neither had Blizzard at the time they put out WoW.

I think that being able to make a great game is a stronger qualification than having made an MMO before. And I think that Bioware is trying to mitigate their lack of MMO experience by not trying too hard to reinvent the wheel of MMO mechanics, instead providing a polished game that uses a lot of well established mechanics, and then throws in a bit of its own special something. This was pretty much what Blizzard did for WoW and that turned out pretty well…

 

3) EA is fully committed to ToR

As one of the big two game publishing houses in the world, EA has some seriously deep pockets. Those deep pockets have been available to Bioware to pull from through ToR, as it is becoming increasingly evident that EA has made ToR into something of a flagship project for the company.

Besides the development funding for ToR, EA is going to be throwing everything at us but the kitchen sink when it comes to marketing ToR. You only have to look at the launch of Battlefield 3 and the massive advertisement campaigns that were put in place for that.

 

It’s going to be very interesting to observe the launch of ToR and how many people will actually jump into hyperspace.

Also, the question will be if it is going to be people migrating from WoW to ToR, or if we’ll see an influx of completely new MMO gamers that are drawn in by the promise of lightsabers and UNLIMITED POWER (Okay, I’ll stop now).

More importantly, will the pull of the Force turn out to be a fickle thing that eventually wanes and leads people back to the lands of Azeroth? Will the promises of Pandas and Pokemon prove to be a match for the power of the Dark Side?

36 Comments

  1. The short answer is no, it won’t be a wow-killer. SWTOR might get a million or two players, but they’ll quickly realize its the same game and move on as they have with every other wow-clone.

    WoW will only be toppled by another MMORPG that different enough that players can’t get their fix from WoW. then will have a decade where everyone clones that game.

  2. I have seen several videos, read several reviews, and watched the impressions of several players… It is WoW in space. The animations of the force, like lightening, are exactly animated like in wow. A fluid like magic leech… the players run like wow… the use of colors, movement, eveything is wow.

    I have never said wow clone to other games. For example, Runes of Magic, everyone says is a wow clone. I found that nothing was wow about it. It is cartoony, but not hte same animations, movements, or coloring. Sure, the game has big world and spells… but that is not wow, that is MMORPG… To be a wow clone has to rip off the very fluidity that attaches peoples brains…and this game did their home work.
    Even if it is awesome, I will never play it as Star wars was killed after 1970’s and I Will never support the company of the moron that killed it.

  3. SWTOR isn’t going to take the crown from WoW’s cold, dead hands, but it’s going to force WoW to share the throne. It’s a good game that offers innovation while giving still a sense of familiarity to both WoW and BW RPG players.

  4. Well, the promises of Pandas and Pokemon is what drove me out of WoW. I am bidding my time with Skyrim and WoT but as soon as SW:tOR comes out, I’m in.

    Will it be a WoW killer, don’t think we’re there yet (I think GW2 might be the killer though), but it will be a WoW wounder at the very least.

    I have a good feeling that SW:tOR will be able to retain a large amount of people once the free month is passed.

  5. Interesting comments, guys.
    I am inclined to agree that ToR won’t be able to kill WoW. But I do think it has a better chance at being a serious contender to the biggest MMO than anything that has been released since WoW.

    Guild Wars 2 could also be huge, like you say, Paqman, but I think that despite it’s pretty big success, the Guild Wars name is just not strong enough to take on WoW. Even if the game is really good.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  6. ditto all of the above – it isn’t going to kill wow. People have invested to much time and money into WoW. Players are not going to abandon a decades worth of investment in their characters unless the new game offers a big enough deviation from the established WoW formula or unless it improves upon that formula drastically. I have not really seen any evidence of either of these so far with ToR.

    Using the same arguement with Guild Wars 2 (which I have always been a great advocate of) I think from what I have seen it offers large improvements on the WoW formula & free monthly play, which may allow it to dent WoW but still probably doesnt offer to kill it off. I think WoW will still be around for quite a while yet.

  7. Nope.

    Based on all reveals I’ve seen, published reviews, and pre-launch experience, SW:TOR is a Single-Player and CORPG at it’s core.

    Since there has been absolutely nothing massively multiplayer we’ve seen, that gives the appearance of massively-multiplayer, aside from being able to host 100’s in the same chat channel simultaneously, it’s core sure makes a difference; an excellent cinematic story-driven rpg with redundant content at the unprecedented $15/month.

    There are absolute lies floating around that this game is actually massive or has enough relevant mmorpg tenets to be massively-multiplayer; it’s the epitomy of dumbing-down of the mmorpg moniker.

    Previews don’t regard this game as being or feeling massively-multiplayer.

    Calling SW:TOR a Themepark mmorpg is even being overly generous.

    Since there has been absolutely nothing massively multiplayer we’ve seen, that gives the appearance of massively-multiplayer, aside from being able to host 100’s in the same chat channel simultaneously, it’s core sure makes a difference; an excellent cinematic story-driven rpg with redundant content at the unprecedented $15/month.

  8. Interesting point, Korben, but a bit harsh, I think.
    I certainly feel that SWTOR looks to be a “real” MMO.
    I’m not sure where you see SWTOR being less massive than WoW.

    But I agree that a lot is going to come down to how players actually take to the focus on story telling and cut scenes. There is no guarantee that this focus on story and cinematics will make for a MMO success. Time will tell.

  9. WoW will not, of course, be killed off or otherwise die quickly. However, it is already in decline. What ToR and GW2 will do is segment the MMORPG market. ToR will take away the RPers who want story and will play off of it. Sandboxers will turn to GW2. WoW has been bleeding for over a year, looking desperately for growth that it has failed to sustain. WoW about to lose even more ground. But it will be a few years before it dies. As typical in nature, it’s death will come as the result of a combination of aging decline and increasing competition.

    I will move to ToR with almost all of my WoW guild. We would all move if only BW/EA would produce a Mac client…

  10. It most likely won’t kill it, but its an interesting idea. It makes me think, damn, EA is really going after activision. I mean they are looking to tear off activisions head with a spoon and force feed it to an alpaca. At this point, activision has few franchises left aside from cod and wow. This year, EA put tons of money and effort into BF3 to try to take it down. It showed too. BF3 won’t kill cod but it certainly gained a ton of attention and i think its one of the reasons why people online are so dissatisfied with MW3.

  11. Korben:
    “There are absolute lies floating around that this game is actually massive or has enough relevant mmorpg tenets to be massively-multiplayer; it’s the epitomy of dumbing-down of the mmorpg moniker.”

    Me:
    Do us all a favor and actually research something before you make completely invalid statements. Literally every single “mmo” experience that can be experienced in WoW can be experienced in SWTOR: from the smaller, more intimate instance (flashpoint), to raiding (Operations), to battleground style pvp (Warzones), to massive open world pvp and a dedicated pvp objective PLANET (Ilum and Smuggler’s Den), not to mention the typical social zones and heroic questing. It’s all there. Check your facts before you try to say something intelligent.

    SWTOR already has a massive, zealous fanbase, and word of mouth hype is off the charts. From a technical/business standpoint you can’t really prepare a game to take over the MMO market more than EA/Bioware are with this title. The funding for this game is monstrous. There have been hundreds of thousands of people testing the game to overwhelmingly positive responses. Sure, there’s the occasional troll who played for 15 minutes and then ranted about something without a proper experience, but the majority speaks with a resounding “yes, please, take my money.”

    That is all.

  12. I don’t think Wow really needs another mmo to kill it. Blizzard is doing to it self. The “promises of Pandas and Pokemon” like pagman said is a proof. As an old wow player, I personaly think the game slowly started to die since WOTLK.

    The casual orientation that the game took in WOTLK surely brought some more players that didn’t felt like spending a lot of time into a video game. But that kind of player won’t play for 6 or 7 straight years like I did. They’ll move on in a year maybe less. It also made the game less interesting (in my opinion) for players that are willing to play many hours into that kind of video game. For hardcore players, it was a lot more fun to take a couple of weeks to defeat a boss and walk around IF or Org with items that were not being compared to other stuff that came out of 5man heroics or badges. Killing C’thun or Kael’thas after a month or two of progression felt a lot more achiving than killing LK.

    There’s a lot more thing I could say about why Wow died to me (I didn’t talk about PvP) but this is obviously not the place. So basicaly my thought is… Wow doesn’t need a killer since it’s already dying. It just needs a good prince to take dying king place.

  13. I played WoW from the first US beta to early this year. The massive changes Blizzard made regarding their classes killed the game for me and it was at that stage that I left the game after struggling a bit to come to terms with re-learning skills and adopting strategies.

    Will SWTOR be the killer? I don’t really care, but I would like to see a big enough playerbase to make a nice, bustling community. (And, of course, a company that can handle goldsellers properly).

  14. PS : I will play TOR. I played the beta for a couple hours and I loved it. It has the potential to become the new king of mmo’s but Wow will stay in most of our memories as the best MMO we ever played.

  15. Namamamama, exactly. With Battlefield 3 we saw that EA are only too eager to go head on against the biggest Activision games. So I have no doubt that EA is pulling out all stops to market the crap out of SWTOR.
    That won’t make it a better game, but it will give it a better chance to gather enough momentum to become a real rival to WoW.

    MashedPotato, absolutely, nothing can remove the nostalgic memories that a lot of us have of playing WoW back in the early days. Even if Anarchy Online will always be my personal favorite MMO (but then, I’m odd like that ;) )

  16. You all underestimate the power of the dark side, i mean the numbers of Star Wars fans… swtor SORT OF feels like wow, and its a good thing. It will allow dumb wow players for quick transition into swtor. Fully voiced over, companions etc = no grind. I don’t think swtor will manage to take wow out alone, but it will certainly cripple it ALOT, with higher number of subscribers perhaps. Guild Wars 2 will finish wow off, but in the end, swtor WILL be most popular, its common sense.

  17. I agree that wow has killed itself. My guild has spent months wiping on bwd just so we could then spend months wiping in firelands. What is the point of stupidly hard bosses. Its not fun. And I certainly don’t want to play pandas and pokemon.
    I’m really looking forward to tor. I hope it stays fun. Seems to be.

  18. Barrada, I think that is a good point that I could have included in the post.
    The timing of SWTOR seems really good, as WoW seems to be “over the hill” now and starting to come apart a bit at the seams. That should make it easier for a competitor like SWTOR to do some real damage.

  19. SWTOR is coming at precisely the correct time in the MMO life-cycle to position itself as the standard (i.e. new WoW) for a few years. They followed the early development model that Blizzard came to the game with, take all the fun and interesting mechanics from the big players, mash them up, and improve. Adding the personalized story line with full VO will become a standard, it is absurdly immersive.

  20. Having played in 3 weekend betas, This game sucks you in for the ride. For once you start to build a character, and as you play, your character has a personality that you give it (My smuggler was pretty dirty, but drew the line at unnecessary killing, and loved kids). That’s never happened for any character in any mmo for me. Will it kill WoW? No. but will most likely knock it off its throne as top dog.

  21. Wardenzel,

    Where is the zone phasing mechanic in SWTOR?

    Where are the personal vehicle based quest mechanics in SWTOR? Do I get to pilot a walker for any quest? Are there any quests that are like bombing missions?

    Where is the LFG tool in SWTOR? Will I have to sift through chat channel garbage and chuck Norris jokes to find party members?

    Will I be able to collect achievements and non-combat pets in SWTOR?

    Will there be hundreds of different mounts to collect?

    Can I ride my vehicle all around tatooine without becoming fatigued?

    Just wondering. ;)

  22. @B.pol

    1) Everytime you see a “green barrier” there is a story zone that only you and your party can see what is happening.

    2) Apparently in Ilium PVP zone you can pick up rocket launchers and shoot down walkers. I have not been to Ilium so I cannot say if you can actually pilot walkers or do flying bombing runs.

    3) There is a central space dock where you can take shuttles to all flashpoints. You can socialize and group with people there. They want to increase actual socialization so there is no cross-server or LFG tool as that promotes mindless PUGs.

    4) There will be some World Boss achievements at launch. You can also collect and find “lore” items that updates your codex. There are titles you get for doing certain quest chains, although there is no “achievement” score mechanic. There are non-combat pets, for example you get a mouse droid if you get certain editions of the game. It sounds like they will be adding more prior to or after launch.

    5) I saw around 10+ speeders/”mounts” at the vendor, some will come from operations as rare drops. You also get “sprint” at level 14 so everybody gets a constant speed increase out of combat, mount or no mount.

    6) As far as I know, you can speeder as much as you want around Tatooine, if you do it for hours you might get a little tired, but that’s up to how much caffiene is in your system.

  23. Wow has become a very lazy fat cat. and I’m about to take it to the vet to be put down. Pokemon and pandas? Dance studio? Ppl making their characters as sily as they want with transmorg coming? ill let my wife continue to play world of Warcraft. Men, come to the darkside…

  24. Phoenix, you bring up something that I think could also be something special for TOR. Namely that people will grow attached to their characters and give them their own personalities more than they would usually do in an MMO *because* there is so much focus on the story and the ability to make your own decisions.
    Whether or not this is something that is going to hit big with the masses, or if it is going to be only a minor niche of players that will be interested in that is going to be the questions, though.

    Junglepayne, you’re raising the point that I’m seeing a lot in the comments here. That WOW is basically killing itself. Nice point that you bring up about the male vs female players. I wonder if all this Pandaran and Pet combat system will mean that the people leaving WOW will be more males than females. It’s very stereotypical to claim that women are going to love Pandas and Pokemon, but it is an interesting thing to consider for sure.

    Junglepayne, I’m sure that WOW will not die, as in getting the plug pulled, anytime soon. In fact I think that it will probably live on to celebrate at least its 20th anniversary.
    However, how many of those years is going to be spent as king of the hill?

  25. @B.Pol,

    What Jantje said. PLUS:

    Bioware has mentioned an unannounced system for finding groups, obviously we don’t know what it is yet.

    Bioware has announced that there WILL be an achievement system at launch, though a bit more limited, and it will expand in the first or second content patch. It’s not in the current beta builds.

    There are tons of mounts available in all the traditional places (i.e. vendors, drops, awards, etc.), and certainly more to come.

    There are collectible non-combat pets (i.e. mouse droid)

    Mounts can be ridden as much as you want without time limit.

    Zone-phasing/shards are used constantly (and appropriately) in-game.

    In addition to all of that, keep in mind these are launch features. Most MMOs launch pretty bare-bones and build from there. They’ve got lots of room to grow, but it’s launching relatively full featured. Quite nice.

  26. Those wishing for a “end” to wow may have to wait some time yet. So long as costs can be contained and a loyal fanbase remains expect it to be around some time yet.

    See these examples from wikipedia

    Ultima Online (UO) is a graphical massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), released on September 24, 1997 – 14 Years old

    EverQuest, often shortened to EQ, is a 3D fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that was released on the 16th of March, 1999 – 12 Years Old

    EverQuest’s development is ongoing, and the 18th expansion, Veil of Alaris, was released on November 15, 2011.

    While I don’t expect wow will always remain the highest subscribing mmo until the lights go out, those wishing for it’s “death” may have to wait an entire generation or more for it to happen.

    As I had seen in a prior posting, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 20th Anniversary of the game.

  27. I think this whole WoW vs SWTOR thing is really out of hand to be honest. Yes alot of the things we played WoW for in vanilla are gone, but who can say that about a game that has changed that much in 7 years. Most games rarely adapt and change. SWTOR offers plenty in the way of WoW of the old and has definitely taken Blizzards time tested package of a wow and space- ified it.

    I don’t think SWTOR will be able to dethrone WoW but will merely take a seat/large share of the consumer base, but there is nothing in SWTOR to really go wow this is different like WoW did when it first came out. Nothing on the grand scale. In the end SWTOR will just merely slide in beside WoW as another giant in the MMO world. People will merely make the comparison do you want to play space MMO or fantasy MMO.

    TLDR- Nothing in SWTOR really stands out besides the better single player experience. SWTOR is not revolutionary or really breaking new ground in MMO experience. WoW and SWTOR will merely exist beside eachother in the realm of gaming.

  28. Zipples, while I think you could be very right that WoW and SWTOR will end up coexisting as large MMO’s rather than SWTOR completely smashing WoW, I’m not sure that a MMO really has to offer something amazingly new and revolutionizing to take the #1 spot.

    I remember playing Everquest 2, both beta and retail, right before WoW was released, and comparing the features of vanilla WoW to Everquest 2, there really wasn’t a big difference between them. WoW streamlined a lot of things that other MMO’s had done before, but it was extremely light on real innovation.

    I would claim that SWTOR is about as innovative compared to WoW as WoW was to the contemporary generation of MMO’s when it launched.
    Whether that is going to result in a success that is equal to WoW is a whole different argument, of course.

  29. The main reason the haters hate swtor so much is because wow has been their life for so many years and they feel they are so good at it. Going to something different is a shock to their system and means they will be the noob they keep calling people.

    Stay at wow, Swtor will be a better place for it.

  30. Let me clear this up. SWTOR is nothing like WoW. I see all of these blog posts and comments making comparisons to WoW, which is unhealthy. The two comes are nothing alike. SWTOR is however, similar to AoC, Aion, Rift, and Warhammer Online in different ways.

    What sets WoW apart from SWTOR and all games mentioned above, are the mechanics added to the game in version 3.x (also known as wotlk)

    Zone Phasing (http://www.wowwiki.com/Phasing)

    SWTOR does not have any type of zone phasing. No, class quest areas are not phases of zones.

    Vehicle Mechanics http://www.wowwiki.com/Vehicles_(mechanic)

    This mechanic, while similar to the mounting mechanic, allows combat while on the vehicle, which often has its own spells or abilities unique to the vehicle.

    How cool would that be in the Star Wars universe? Too bad it’s not in SWTOR yet.

    LFG Tool

    Don’t make excuses for BW saying cross server instances are “mindless” just because BW hasn’t coded something they will eventually code. A planet wide, zone wide chat channel is not a desirable method for obtaining a group. You will have to sift through garbage and chuck norris jokes to find your tank or healer. There is no question. Fan boi’s seem to think this sort of immersion is exciting or redeeming in some way.

    No achievements in SWTOR.

    Remember, WoW was not the first to do achievements and it was only added in version 3.x. Regardless, they are not in SWTOR which means that’s another way it’s dissimilar to WoW. Say what you want about the mechanic, it’s something BW will want to implement and like the LFG tool, fan boi’s will defend it’s absence but they will not quit the game because it’s added.

    Mounts being limited to speeder type crafts means far less variety with mounts. In addition, I can’t seem to understand why no one realizes SWTOR punishes you for not using the ‘flight paths’ and they have a fatigue system for riding your mount too far. That’s just hilarious, hopefully it’s not still in beta.

    So in conclusion, no, you can’t literally experience everything in SWTOR that you can experience in WoW. To believe that is simply wrong.

  31. B.Pol, there are certainly significant differences between SWTOR and WoW. I don’t think anyone is claiming otherwise.
    But to say they are “nothing alike” is overstating it more than a bit, I would say.
    The basics of the games are quite similar.

    You are listing some features that WoW has that SWTOR does not and that is fair enough, but these extra features are not really the distinguishing features for WoW.

    And BTW, I totally agree with you that a good LFG tool seems like a necessity for a successful MMO these days, so let’s hope that Bioware will pay some attention to that in the future.

  32. The Old Republic will not kill WoW. WoW will is too busy comitting suicide for TOR to care.

    To the fella that keeps saying that TOR is not a massivly-multiplayer game… whaaa? Let’s name off the top of my head how it is…

    1. Warezones
    2. World PvP
    3. Many group missions in EVERY area (planet)
    4. Awards for grouping
    5. Flashpoints (see Instance)
    6. Operations (see Raid)
    7. Huge social hubs
    8. World bosses (see raid)

    That’s eight; I’m sure there are more but you get the idea.

    Lets talk about the acheivments and other things that won’t (maybe) be in at launch that are in WoW.

    1. LFG system (1 xpac for WoW)
    2. Cross server LFG (2 xpac for WoW)
    3. Flying missions (1 xpac for WoW)
    4. Vehicle missions (2 xpac for WoW)
    5. Flying mounts (1 xpac for WoW)

    see where I’m going? I’d almost bet that all of the above things will be in-game (minus Flying mounts) before the first xpansion. I can wait.

    TOR has a lot of things that aren’t in WoW but I’m sure that given all of the goodies will make it in eventually.

  33. having played multiple beta’s of SWTOR i can honestly say no SWTOR is not a wow killer infact i dont expect the game to survive six months.

    And here is why. The game puts heavy focus on story driven single player gameplay (no the choices you make have no real impact on the outcome despite BS marking from EA). Primarly the game plays and feels like a single player RPG with some MMO elements tacked on.

    There is no real end game content there to hang onto subscribers. This stims from EA wanting to focus on the statisticly larger casual market. Problem with this is casual gamers are a flakey bunch always moving to the next new shiny game without a second thought.

    The next problem is development costs to maintain a constant stream of end game content. The huge array of multiple choice voice acting making any new content cost ten times more to produce then your traditional singular objective. This was a vary bad choice when your primary competitor much larger development budget to pool from and there production costs are drasticly lower.

    Overall if i was to place a bet on where this game would be in six months. My money would be on failed to the point of switching to a cashshop/F2p (but knowing EA’s marketing tactics it wouldnt surpise me if that was planned from the start)

  34. 15 days before early access and I cannot play any other game… every time I do.. I remember what a badass game is coming out in 10 more days.

    Dont care if it is a WoW killer. Dont care if it is or isnt the best pvp ever. Dont care if it isnt the best ‘raiding’ game.

    Man, all I know is this was a story so rich that it cannot even be adequately described.

    No beta ever felt like this period. And Ive played alot of them

  35. OK people just letting you know my opinion though it might not count.

    I personally feel that wow has ran its course now its time to pass the torch, Ive played wow for like 5-6 years and now im bored with it theres nothing that makes me want to keep playing that game, Ive quited wow so many times and i only go back to it to see what the X-pac is like.

    Now Ive played the beta of Tor and I quite enjoy it But for some its either you hate it or like it but what people’s gotta realize that’s there’s more Star wars fans out there then Wow fans and wow is slowly loosing its player base coz there all going to Tor.

    Oh and to say Tor is a wow clone is stupid as hell its a generic clone of all MMO’s, same as wow, same as all the other MMO’s out there. They all use the same Interface to animations to quests and so forth.

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