World of Warcraft: The 800-Pound Gorilla in the MMO Room

World of Warcraft: The 800 Pound Gorilla in the MMO Room

by Ron Keith

Did you hear? Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) announced they were delaying the release of DC Universe Online (DCUO) until sometime next year. No new release date has been given, yet.

Geez. Didn’t it seem like they were all set to release DCUO on November 2? That release date was announced way back in June. But now it’s been delayed and all they’re saying is some time next year. Lame.

So why? Why this delay? There’s almost no explanation on the DCUO website. John Smedley, President, Sony Online Entertainment, says, …this extra time will allow us to address community feedback in a meaningful way. And that’s about it.

Addressing community feedback… That sounds like a good thing. Nothing wrong with that, right? Seems like they’re going to wait and work on the game some more and release a higher quality MMO. That’s good. Most MMO gamers would rather wait and play a finished MMO rather than one that still needs work. So it’s all good, right?

But if that’s really the reason for the delay, why are Batman and Superman cowering in the corner? Man, something’s got them spooked. Look at them! They’re shaking like Michael Vick at a PeTA tribunal (Sentence: Death by Pitbull Unga Bunga). Do you see that terrified look in their eyes? What has them so scared?

If you look past the SOE President blathering on about how he wants to do the best thing for his MMO, make it better for the community, blah, blah, blah, you see what has the superheroes so scared, what John Smedley doesn’t really want to talk about.

It’s the 800-pound gorilla in the MMO room.

Well, more precisely, it’s an 800-pound green orc. But let’s not quibble.

Just a few short days before SOE delayed DCUO, on October 4th, that 800-pound green orc went berserk. It went screaming through the Bat Cave scaring the bats and smashing about the Fortress of Solitude destroying a lot of fine crystal. Then the 800-pound orc just stood there in the ruins, flailing his arms, bellowing and pounding his chest like a silverback. The signals were clear: The MMO room was his. He was the alpha. And the likes of Superman and Batman better know their place.

On October 4th, Blizzard announced the release date for Cataclysm, the latest expansion to the enormously popular World of Warcraft. Cataclysm would be available for purchase on December 7. The rest of the MMO world shuddered. (How appropriate they chose Pearl Harbor Day.)

John Smedley can talk all he wants about delaying DCUO for the players. They’re going to make DCUO better. That’s nice. Sure, sure. The real reason they’re delaying DCUO is Cataclysm. And, sadly for MMO gamers, any other MMO that was thinking of maybe releasing this year, revised their schedule, too.

It sucks for gamers, sure, but it’s just good business, a lesson Warhammer: Age of Reckoning (WAR) learned the hard way. WAR released in September, 2008. Lots and lots and lots of people signed up to play WAR. It was pretty happy times, all rainbows and pretty flowers, and Mythic Entertainment was feeling quite proud of themselves. So many people signed up for WAR, Mythic probably thought they had a WoW killer. Mythic started strutting all around the MMO room, all full of itself, beating its chest, and yelling about its great MMO. Stupid, stupid Mythic. That 800 pound, green orc let them strut for a bit, then it rose up and gave WAR its first smackdown. In November of 2008, Blizzard released Wrath of the Lich King and players started leaving WAR to play WoW’s new expansion.

WAR had lots problems that led to its decline, but Blizzard gave WAR the body blow that got it coughing up blood. So much for the WoW-killer WAR.

Lesson learned: Let the 800 pound, green orc throw its weight around. Let the millions of WoW fans play their expansion. Wait until they get bored. Once the orc is done roaring and pounding its chest, once it’s napping, again, then Batman and Superman will cautiously, with great temerity, release their new MMO.

If you’re a WoW fan, Cataclysm is great news. More WoW for you. If you don’t like WoW, if you’d rather stab out your eyes with rusty sewing needles than play another hour of WoW, this is bad news. If you’re looking for another MMO to play, it’s bad news: DC Universe is officially delayed and any MMO that might have been released this year, such as Guild Wars 2, is delayed, too.

Sometime early next year the 800-pound green orc will lie down for a nap. It’s old and tired; it needs more naps, now. Let’s hope it’s a long one. Sometime in January or February next year, the now-delayed MMOs will start releasing. If MMO gamers are lucky, Guild Wars 2 or DC Universe Online will show its own muscle. It’s way past time for that 800-pound orc to get its own smackdown.

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