I wrote an article discussing the negative user response to Nether. The article below is a comment from Michael Haney in response to my piece. He discusses how new titles have very little chance of positive user reviews due to gaming history. Have a read:
There are MMO gamer I like to call WoWsters. The vast majority of them don’t play WoW anymore and claim to want something different. But, when they get a game that’s different, they bash it because its not like WoW. It doesn’t do this or that like WoW. WoW has been placed on a higher pedestal, which is unfair for other up-and-coming games that might be better but simply because they’re different they get bashed. WoWsters might be the minority of the MMO Gamer Community, like CODers, and like them they’re also among some of the most vocal. They flood forums and social media with negative comments about this or that game. This has happened nearly every time with every new MMO that has launched since WoW that tries to be different.
Before WoW came along MMOs were very different, they were much harder games. It was early in the era of Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs so many devs were experimenting with all kinds of ideas, some of which didn’t pan out so a lot of early pre-WoW MMOs failed. Some were popular because they were hard games. Final Fantasy XI especially so, it was a very punishing MMO. Its been toned down quite a bit since then but back in the day it was fucking hard as hell. If you couldn’t find a party to join you couldn’t hardly do anything, because soloing the game was virtually impossible.
WoW changed all of this, Blizzard made the MMO accessible to the casual gamer. Quest givers had icons over their heads to indicate they were quest givers, which eliminated the need to explore and talk to everyone i the game world to see who was or wasn’t a quest giver. This is part of what made pre-WoW MMOs difficult. That’s not to say WoW wasn’t hard in places, but unlike many previous MMOs the game wasn’t punishing. WoW changed the user interface, ushering in later a plethora of copycats, which is what lead many WoWsters to “say” they want something different. At the heart of it is a “Fear of Change”, its why fanbois/gurls go apeshit when their favorite game franchise changes in a very significant way. This is why the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises have had graphical upgrades over the years, but gameplay-wise there’s been virtually almost no change, and little innovation.
WoW is now finally in decline, but other MMOs still have certain expectations stacked against them because it still exists. Until WoW is finally gone or either dethroned by something else the situation isn’t going to change much. That isn’t to say other MMOs still won’t be popular, but none will be able to reach the levels of popular WoW enjoyed for almost a decade until WoW is gone.