It's that time of year again. I know what you're thinking - the time of year when you decide to leave your comfy computer chair, meet real bodied people and eat something other than ramen - also known as Christmas and/or New Years Eve, but that's not it. I am thinking of the time of year when another big MMO is released and everyone is all antsy-pantsy about whether this one will prove to be the one that kills WoW. We all know that won't happen though, no swift blow will or even can kill WoW, I picture it as a slow but steady decline where one day you wake up and realize you haven't logged on for a couple of months and eventually you read somewhere that the servers have closed down. But that's beside the point, the point is that yet again my Reader has been infested with posts about another MMO than WoW. This time around, the invader is called SWTOR.
I say infested, although in reality it doesn't bother me. Admittedly I never read those posts, mainly because I am completely uninterested in SWTOR, but I really don't mind them being there. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm not interested in any other MMO than WoW. I've mentioned before the very real possibility of me actually switching to playing Warhammer full time, if only I had someone around me who was interested in joining me. WoW has me hooked for a number of reasons, but the biggest one is that it allows me to play with friends, it is something all the other MMOs have to fight against and it is an unfair battle. And on my wishlist on things I'd want if I could wish for anything, the Fallout MMO comes in on a second (only surpassed by "being rich enough to by an island with internet access"). But not so with SWTOR, there is nothing about it that interests me. I'm not a huge Star Wars fan to begin with, and although I love the idea of a space set MMO, my disgust with George Lucas (Episode 1 in 3D, really?!) has put me off SWTOR as well. Unjust perhaps, and probably my loss in the end, but there you have it.
So the SWTOR posts don't bother me, I just don't care about them. Quite different to my reaction to all the RIFT posts that spawned when RIFT was released. But that was different. The SWTOR posts I have glanced at seem straightforward and on the subject, while I recall the RIFT posts verging on fanatical and preaching. Lo and behold, the game that KICKS WOWS ASS! I didn't feel threatened, I was annoyed. It was as if people were actively trying to find features of RIFT that would make it the WoW-killer. Do you remember the shit-storm that crossed through the bloggosphere after I had done a post on RIFT that inspired Reala of Click The Lightwell to create the "RIFT-free zone" button to put on your blog? A post controversial enough to be featured on MMORPG.com and PCgamer.com. This was serious business people, for some reason.
Back then I wrote;
"I'll be honest. Although my first attitude towards Rift was exactly the same as it has been towards any new mmorpg the last years, which is modest curiousity, this was quickly turned to annoyance when people didn't seem to be able to talk about anything other than Rift. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people who thinks stuff are uncool just because everyone else thinks it cool. You'll never hear me say "I liked that when it was still underground". But I couldn't help like feeling like there could only be two reasons for the overwhelming reaction to Rift. Either it really is an awesome game, or people just grasp for it because it is not WoW."
"WoW may be the lumbering behemoth of the MMORPG sphere but we bloggers are not, damnit. Many of us are experiencing tough times in WoW, we have lost friends, guildies, entire guilds have crumbed and fallen. I don't begrudge Rift the shelf-space, but when there are more Rift posts on a WoW blog than WoW posts... well... I don't like it."
And there was something to it. I had seen mmos come and go, remember Conan? Aion? Warhammer? None of them bothered me, because WoW was still king of the hill. But then suddenly we heard about diminishing subscription numbers, people around me starting to get tired and you could feel the itch. The itch in the back of your head thinking "do I really enjoy this anymore or am I just sticking around because I am too lazy to move?". It does feel like an old marriage, and you will wake up one day and wonder whether there just might be something better out there. Why is this a problem? Why would it bother me that people around me move on and stop playing WoW? Maybe because realizing that something is coming to an end, something that I've spent years enjoying and have had so much fun with, just isn't a pleasant thought. It means change, and we all know how scary that can be. RIFT entered the scene like the new cool guy, and when the masses seemed to move that way I had trouble letting go of WoW, but didn't want to feel left out of all the fun. But I did have fun. I still loved and enjoyed WoW, which only made it hurt more when everyone around me didn't think so anymore. Like when all my friends one day decided they were too old to play with Pokemon Cards, and I still take mine out now and then, look at it, sigh and long for the day when I find someone else childish enough to have a match with me (the main reason I want to have kids tbh).
Although SWTOR quite frankly seems like a lot better contender to dethrone WoW than RIFT ever was (but like I said, I don't think that will happen just yet), this time around I just do /shrug. It might be the style of the posts, how they're actually about SWTOR and not about how SWTOR is like a better WoW. I realize it's impossible to write posts about another MMO than WoW and not end up comparing with the game that has been controlling the market for better and worse the last six years. But there is a right and a wrong way to do it. I felt like the RIFT posts were the wrong way, focusing on everything that people felt were wrong with WoW rather than everything they felt was right with RIFT. You might think it boils down to the same thing, but it doesn't.
Maybe I have just come to terms with the fact that WoW will end some day, or that there are loads of people that don't enjoy it anymore - and that is ok. Maybe I was worried about my own feelings towards WoW, and felt like all the whining really was voicing my own inner thoughts. Maybe I feared exactly that, that I wasn't having fun anymore but just hadn't accepted it yet. And that isn't the case now, I am having loads of fun in WoW. Or maybe I was having loads of fun in WoW back then too, and was worried that everyone leaving me would take away that fun, as mentioned. I don't know. Or maybe I am ready for WoW actually sharing the throne with some other MMO now, eventhough I don't feel like moving on just yet I do feel like there is a need for something new to not just enter the arena, but bloody well stay there too.
Because really, does anyone still play RIFT?