Guild Wars 2, Tera, Rift, Warhammer Online, Age of Conan, Wildstar, LOTRO, Aion, SWTOR, the list goes on forever with games that were supposed to be the WoW-killer, a term that has been overused into memehood by now.
The only game that actually managed to do some real damage to the king of MMOs has so far been Final Fantasy XIV. But in the end, it didn’t kill WoW and as it turns out it didn’t want to kill WoW as Naoki Yoshida aka Yoshi-P, the director of FFXIV, is actually a huge fan of World of Warcraft, and has been hugely inspired by it in the creation of FFXIV.
In the end, it was WoW itself and Blizzard who managed to do the most damage to the game. But now a new threat is looming on the horizon. A threat with a much wider reach into WoW’s player base than any previous MMO.
Previously dubbed WoW-killers always catered to a different crowd, and many of them have become successful in their own way within a niche because of this. Tera became the MMO for fans of action combat, Warhammer Online gained a fanbase of hardcore realm vs. realm PvP players and SWTOR became the go-to for narrative-driven story gameplay in MMOs.
So while fans might have called them WoW-killers before release, it quickly became apparent that these games weren’t even on the same turf as WoW, and weren’t really competing for the same player base.
The Riot MMO might turn out to be a different beast, as the fans of Riot’s games are often also fans or were once fans of games made by Blizzard.
Riot is in many ways what Blizzard once was. A gaming company that can do no wrong in the eyes of its fans. Everything they touch turns to gold. And whereas it seems like Blizzard has lost their touch with alchemy, Riot still has it.
The reason for this is that Riot knows its audience. It knows what the players want and it knows how to give it to them. And in many ways, it seems like Blizzard has lost sight of this.
Both companies make rely on heavily stylized colorful graphics that are set in fantasy or sci-fi settings. They also have a rich history of creating successful multiplayer games, with World of Warcraft and League of Legends being the most obvious examples.
Most of Riot’s games also have overlapping audiences with Blizzard’s games. Warcraft fans will often also be fans of League of Legends, whose creation was inspired by a custom Warcraft III map called Defense of the Ancients (Dota).
Riot’s other titles Valorant and Legends of Runeterra also have similarities to Overwatch and Hearthstone respectively. So it’s not a stretch to say that the Riot MMO will also be targeting many of the same players that World of Warcraft does.
The question is whether or not Riot can succeed where so many others have failed. And while it’s still too early to say for sure, there are some things that point to a possible success.
First of all, Riot has a track record of success. All of its games so far have been very successful, with League of Legends being one of the most popular games in the world.
Secondly, Riot knows its audience and how to please them. It has shown time and time again that it understands what players want and how to give it to them.
Riot has teased very little about the upcoming MMO but hype is already building.
Over at Blizzard, it seems they are looking to start over with Dragonflight, calling it the third era of WoW, due to the major changes they are making to the game. But it remains to be seen if this will be enough to bring players back.
Legion should have been the start of a third era in WoW, but both Battle for Azeroth and Shadowlands failed to build on the foundation that Legion laid. Both these expansions had a decent about of hype built up before release, but both times Blizzard failed to deliver.
Fans are once again saying that this time it will be different and Dragonflight has indeed so far shown some promise.
Dragonflight will no doubt have a successful launch as fans are eager to return to World of Warcraft, and see what changes have been made. But it remains to be seen if this will be enough to keep players around for the long term.
If the last few expansions are anything to go by, the population will start dropping off after a few months, and Blizzard will yet again struggle keeping players interested patch after patch.
While no release date has yet been announced for the Riot MMO, we can make an educated guess that we might be looking at a 2024-2025 release date. MMOs typically take around 2-6 years to develop.
The game was announced back in 2020, meaning the developers had started working on the game prior to that. Much of the game world is already fleshed out thanks to LoL and Legends of Runeterra, which should help the development speed.
World of Warcraft usually releases an expansion every two years, meaning we might see the next one in late 2024, meaning the Riot MMO could come out right in the middle of that.
Should Dragonflight then fail to recapture the player base that World of Warcraft has lost over the years, there is a real possibility that the Riot MMO could be the WoW-killer that so many have been waiting for. Only time will tell.
Do you have hopes for Dragonflight or do you think the Riot MMO will finally deliver the finishing blow to World of Warcraft? Let us know in the comments below!