Sunday, 4 December 2011

SWTOR vs WoW: Battle of the Bears?

The upcoming World of Warcraft expansion “Mists of Pandaria” is undoubtedly Blizzard’s reaction to Star Wars: The Old Republic and yes, I know that is not exactly a controversial thing to say. Whilst there are games in the latter stages of development that will most likely be quite big players on the MMORPG scene (for example Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World), SWTOR is the only serious contender for the Warcraft crown. Regardless of any personal attachment and hype for those games within the MMO community, they just don’t have anywhere near the same uber-media-hype-punch that the combination of Star Wars, Bioware and a monstrous advertising campaign does out in the real world. So presumably Blizzard felt the need to do something big, something that would retain current players, lure in new ones and tempt back those they lose to SWTOR. Their oh so cunning plan was as you know, playable Panda Bears.

 Now grizzled (jaded?) MMORPG veterans like you and I may think that is about as interesting as Vogon poetry, but that doesn’t matter. It probably won’t draw that many people back from SWTOR, yet Mists of Pandaria will still make them a load of money, draw in lots of new younger players and captivate the super casual vast majority that don’t really recognise the existence of games outside of WoW anyway. All despite the fact it’s super childish Panda bloody bear nonsense, that is themed more around a kids cartoon than it is old warcraft lore (warcraft lore… lol) and Blizzard are basically saying they think their players have the mentality and interests of an 8 year old child.

I can safely say that as I have a daughter of the appropriate age who loves the Kung Fu Panda movies and she thinks it’s an awesome idea and now wants a WoW account.

Normally she plays Club Penguin.

However it got me wondering, how would it work if the roles were reversed? Imagine you’ve been playing SWTOR a while, but oh noes! A big competitor is about to launch and might steal people away! So Bioware hatch their oh so cunning plan to keep you all subbed… Playable Ewok expansion! Cutesy little teddy bears with spears! Ahh bless, look they fall over a lot and make cute noises. :)

Now, would you feel excited or a little patronised?

My money is on the latter, though perhaps if Sith had Jawas it wouldn't be so bad. :P


  1. Cant be sure if you're not just trolling WoW subscribers lol.

    But it is a valid question, cos I dont think it would be acceptable in other games to dumb it down so much. I would rage about a playable Ewok expansion and would see it as swtor moving towards kindergarten.

    WOW has always been walked quite far over the line of cuteness. It has Gnomes for a start! Even so, I do agree with the overall sentiment that Pandas are imho a step too far.

  2. Anon - Yeah it is true that WoW has always been heavy with the cute, but I do think it managed to do that and still not be too childish. When I used to play it Blizzard were still operating it as a more serious game, just with a lot of humour. With the recent moves to make it so mindlessly easy and now the Panda bears, it just strikes me that they're either adjusting their aim for the under 10s or they think their player base operates at that level.

    GettCouped - I agree.

  3. We may be mocking them (Blizzard) but what they do is no mere result of hasty decisions and/or sudden light blob ideas. They employ a whole system of psychologists that invest into future gamers aka children/early teens.

    Like all children, early guidance/training/attention leads to similar behavior in adulthood. Call it cycling, swimming, gaming or becoming a terrorist. Yes it is annoying for you and me. But they make money out of millions of children who pay with their parents' credit cards. I child who starts playing at age 10 will be playing wow at least to age 18.

  4. Absolutely. I think the main issue thing is that gamers move in waves through games. WoW is very much becoming the kind of primary school of MMO gaming, the entry point for many people. Then if they decide to stay with this kind of gaming they will move on to a more mature game.

    Not meaning to sound condescending towards WoW gamers there :)

  5. I get wher you're going with it, but I disagree. The pandaren have been mixed in WoW lore for a little while at least, and the implementation details we have so far suggest that they will be a robust and interesting class to play - something on the lines of Champions Online - using an energy builder and powering abilities off that. If you step back you can see that design philosophy has been present for a long time, just not quite so visibily. Warriors generate rage, Rogues generate combo points, Paladins generate Holy Power, Shadow Priests generate orbs, Death Knights generate runic power, Druids generate solar/lunar power, and to a lesser extent Arcane Mages generate Arcane Blast stacks. There are some classes which don't really generate a resource - hunters and warlocks, for example, but this is now more the exception than the rule.

    The Pandaren occupy a reasonable ground between cutesy (Kung-Fu Panda) and gritty. From the models and animations we've seen so far, they look pretty bad-ass. The combat moves particularly look good.

    It's a tough call for Blizzard. Warcraft, and by extension World of Warcraft has always been cartoony in it's design; exaggerated, with an emphasis on big shoulder armor, dysmoprhic bodies - even the animations are exaggerated. Yet it still manages to put that aside and get its game face on when you start hitting raids and dungeons, or mixing it up PVP style.

    I don't think MoP or the Pandaren are really going to change that.

  6. The wow players of today are younger than we were when wow first came out. Sure, it drew in quite a lot of young players at release, but the game was still a part of that "older guys" genre called mmoRPG (and i stress "rpg" because kids used to go crazy when ever one mentioned that term in those still smoking CS days).

    Online for kids in those days meant parents complaining about phone bills and fast instant fun like chatting or fps. Today kids think the computer is broken if the net connection is down. Wow has turned into their new social arena, and well, blizzard would be foolish not to cater for them. Which leads to your point about gamers moving in waves, i quite agree on that one.

    But as for pandas vs ewoks: SW has allways had a player made control system for that. I mean, in SWG i remember meeting whole crowds on Endor skinning ewoks because it "was the right thing to do". In SWTOR guilds like "Ewok Eradication Council" and "Ewok Population Control" are allready in place :)

  7. Even though I do understand the point you're trying to make, and I do agree with most of it, I'll have to say that the pandas aren't really a bad or childish choice.

    As lore goes, if you take in only the previous games, Pandarens were already there, in Warcraft 3 you had a Pandaren hero if I'm not mistaken
    And in stuff outside of the previous Warcraft games, you also have them. To be honest, when playing the Warcraft pen-and-paper RPG I always went with a Pandaren as my race.

    When WoW was yet to be released (but already announced), I remember thinking that if it had Pandarens as playable classes, then I'd definitely give it a try. And, if I recall correctly, there were a lot of posts scattered around the interwebs asking for playable Pandarens at release.

    Everyone that knows me, knows that I'm a WoW basher, just for the sake of bashing it... but regarding this "Mists of Pandaria" thing, the only thing I have to say about it is "Would have loved it 7 years ago."

  8. WOW sucks. You rock.

    see what I did there......


About Me

My photo
Half man half pixel. Music obsessive, likes a drink, occasional bastard.