Does World of Warcraft's Success Mean the Death of the PC Gaming Industry?

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A New Gaming Renaissance Where Creativity Reigns

There are many signs that we are about to enter a new gaming renaissance. Games like Aquaria, Galactic Civilizations 2, Darwinia, Mount & Blade, and a whole slew of others are being created today by indie or lesser known developers. Their games are truly innovative and fresh with really great gameplay. These games are producing quite a bit of success for their indie developers.

Five years ago, only the larger game development houses were able to make commercial quality games. Today even a developer with little money can get their hands on everything that they would need to create the next best game. The industry is easier to get into than ever, so people who do not follow the models where the big executives have the most say in creative decisions are able to have total creative freedom to make very engaging games.

There is no doubt that this trend will continue to emerge, with more independent games reaching up to become noticed and appreciated by a wider range of gamers. While the big games have the giant advertising budgets, these indie games don’t have much to put into advertising, but there really are a lot of great games out there to be found.

The trend is definitely swinging back toward innovation, creativity, and new concepts in gaming. The major issue that came up with WoW’s success was the big push by so many companies to make a WoW clone and cash in “just like Blizz did”, which in itself was a pretty flawed creative decision.

The Industry Must Adapt to Succeed

What we are seeing in the industry is that when a big publisher gets success, the executives in the company begin to try to dictate how things should be done with the creation of the games, which hampers the creative process and results in a bad game. It is the executives who do things like push a game out in a bug-riddled state before it’s ready. While the big publishers are using poor practices in their game design approach, the smaller companies are doing things right.

In the long run, the industry may take notice of these little guys and adapt, flexibly allowing their designers the creative room to make their games. As in any business, the companies that make the best decisions will make the best products, and the industry will do well. But the gaming industry is so flexible and accessible to any designer at all, that there is no way that the industry will fade away.

While the rise of WoW and the ensuing rush by so many designers to try to cash in on its success - by creating games which added absolutlely nothing new to the table - is definitely a clear example of some of the mistakes which are being made in the industry today, there is no chance that this “WoW effect” will kill the industry or lead it to an ultimately bad state of affairs.

There is simply too much innovation happening in other sectors of the industry for this to happen. Perhaps some of the more visible parts of the industry are hitting a bit of a dead-end, with little to no innovation happening, but the industry is far more dynamic than most people credit it to be. In the long run, some of the very positive signs which are arising in the industry will continue to play themselves out, ultimately resulting in the adoption of a much more robust and innovative approach. What doesn’t work, people will stop doing; what does work, will continue to flourish and grow. It’s just the nature of the industry.

This post is part of the series: The Worst of WoW

This article series explores some of the negative aspects of World of Warcraft.

  1. Is World of Warcraft Ruining the PC Gaming Industry? - Part 1
  2. World of Warcraft Burn Out 101 - How to Ruin the Game for Yourself in 4 Easy Steps
  3. Is World of Warcraft Ruining the PC Gaming Industry? - Part 2
  4. Why World of Warcraft is Badly Designed