There’s something the water in Austin: Second Life to overtake WoW?

Over at GigaOM Wagner James Au gives a report on a talk by Raph Koster on the Long Tail and gaming – including the astounding claim that Second Life (currently 400,000 subscribers) will overtake World of Warcraft (currently 7 million subscribers) by 2008.

I can only imagine that someone has been putting something in the water, or that no one on the panel had every played either game. Second Life is, by comparison with WoW, simply DULL. It’s basically chat with avatars – entirely social.

What’s clear is that the panel didn’t understand why WoW has been successful. Unlike previous MMORPGs, WoW is architected so you can play through the whole game without grouping – ie, it can be played as a single player game. This means that it suffers less from the problem that bedevilled EverQuest, which was that if you came into the game late you couldn’t get groups and so found it hard to level.

I’m not actually surprised at the lack of understanding. The majority of games companies are pretty clueless about the appeal of MMORPGs.

  • http://www.beckysweb.co.uk Becky

    I decided to comment in the positive here rather than be negative on Siobhan Curran’s blog. :-)

    Saying Second Life will overtake WoW in subscribers is like saying “Del.icio.us will overtake Amazon” i.e. comparing to completely different online services. They’re superficially alike in that they’re MMO 3D environments, but that’s about it.

    I suppose you can compare them at a very high level as “things to spend your time on”, and by that yardstick yep I found SL a place to do some amazingly creative things, but ultimately quite dull. WoW doesn’t allow much creativity, but it does allow for enormous personal emotional involvement.

    Put it this way, it’s the only game I’ve ever known that made someone cry. Not with frustration, or fear, but genuine sadness. When a game reaches that level of emotional attachment, you know you’re playing something truely groundbreaking.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/yoz/ Yoz

    “It’s basically chat with avatars – entirely social.”

    1. Yeah, but WoW is basically MUD with graphics.

    2. Yeah, and entirely social apps never take off, do they? Like email, or SMS, or MySpace…

    The thing about Second Life that makes it special is the extent to which it allows its users to build within it: not just the creation of objects, but the coding of behaviour into those objects, to the point where you can entirely new social tools and experiences using the system as a platform. I haven’t seen WoW do that. I’m not saying that SL really will beat WoW, but you are *seriously* underestimating its potential.

  • http://www.thedragnet.org Miss K

    If I can raise the intellectual temperature for a second…

    5L t0T4Lly pwn2 j00 w0W!!!!!! u 5Ux000rrrrr2222!

  • http://technovia.typepad.com Ian Betteridge

    And oddly enough I’ve been SL a lot more than WoW lately…