Since the last crop of (what is now know as) AAA MMO's, it seems that we're treading water again. WoW is still the 800lb Gorilla in the corner that *everyone* is talking about, and I can't help but say that maybe WoW has become the Microsoft of MMO's. I'm quite sure I'll be shot soon for saying that. By all accounts AoC has fallen on it's face. WAR is gaining traction and moving on up.
Which leads me to a question that has been rattling around in my head all weekend:
Why is everyone trying to "beat" WoW? Should we be just trying to make games that:
A) Have a high fun factor
B) Look good.
C) Engage the mind
D) Foster a good community
Using it's subscribers and profit margin as evidence does have a High Fun Factor. Personally, I don't agree with this, but 30 ooglezillion players can't be wrong. I suppose it looks good. It's easily playable on lower end machines, which does lower it's entry barrier.
Personally, I think it falls flat on the last two. Again, I can't recall any MMO in recent memory that has really engaged my mind. I think the last one was EQ back when the "Vision" was all consuming.
As for the last criteria... some would say WoW does have a good community, it's just very fragmented. Do many smaller communities make up a larger community? I'd say yes it does, witness New York City with all of it's smaller burough and communites. But taken together they form the larger NYC.
Maybe that's an ingredient we're overlooking. Granted, I don't think it's the bread to hold the meatloaf together, but I think it might be the pickle relish on the hotdog that makes it just a bit more teasing to the mouth.