Is The Old Republic a “WoW Clone”?

According to Cowen and Company analyst Doug Creutz, SWTOR is just another “WoW clone”. After the hands-on at E3, Cowen slammed the game, calling it “highly derivative” of World of Warcraft.


Despite promises from EA/Bioware that the title represents a major step forward in MMO design, what we saw was essentially a World of Warcraft clone with Star Wars character skins and the BioWare RPG nice/nasty dialogue tree mechanism bolted on for non-player character conversations,” he said.

BioWare responds to the criticism and Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk insisted the game is shaping up nicely, and its E3 hands-on showing sparked positive feedback.
In an interview with EuroGamer, they counter the accusations that TOR is just another WoW clone and describe how their game is unique, again with a focus on the content. Actually, Eurogamer says they counter it but I don’t actually see any reference at all where they address that issue. Instead they say:

“Things are tracking well,”
“We’re progressing well.”
“The content’s getting there,”
“We’re pretty happy with what we’re showing.”

So none of that is really validation that the game is not a WoW clone. It’s typical PR stuff- skate around the question and avoid the negative with lots of positive. But we still support you BioWare so don’t let us down with TOR!
BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk adds:

“We’ve pretty well announced the whole range of features. There’s such an incredibly large range of things, like crafting, heroic combat, PVP, war zones, end game content – what we call operations, which are basically raids, companion characters, there’s all this stuff.”

“All this stuff” is basically the same stuff that WoW has. But it’s also the same “stuff” that Rift has and EverQuest and virtually every other MMORPG. It’s the “stuff” that MMORPGs are made of. People are only calling it a “WoW clone” because WoW is the most popular MMORPG to date.
And is it really that bad if it is a WoW clone? WoW has been immensely popular, clearly for a reason. Every person I know who currently plays WoW says they would quit when another game came along that matched it but that wasn’t WoW. Many of them have quit already, seeking something else to fill that void.
After 6+ years, the story gets old. The content gets old. The grinding gets old. Level up, farm instances for gear, wait for expansion, start all over again… But millions of people are comfortable with WoW. They’re bored with the same old content but comfortable with the ease of play and cartoony graphics that WoW has to offer. I’d bet money a World of Star Wars MMO would be a killer hit.
The point is, I don’t think SWTOR is going to be a WoW clone. I think the people who say this are the very same people who call every MMORPG a WoW clone and as someone who has played hundreds of MMORPGs I can tell you that they are NOT all just like World of Warcraft.
But if BioWare takes inspiration from some of the points that have made WoW so incredibly popular, then is it really a bad thing? Blizzard set an industry standard with WoW and there are some things that we will continue to see in future MMORPGs that are similar just as there were some things that existed before WoW that WoW has. Nearly all MMORPGs have the same basic UI. Nearly all first-person shooters have the same basic HUD. But we don’t go around calling every new FPS a “Quake-clone”. – Don’t fix what isn’t broken.
SWTOR seems to have many elements that are different from WoW- including the dialogue tree mechanism, better PvP options, less grinding, improved storyline, a crafting system that will actually be useful, interesting mechanics, graphics that are above average for an MMO, crew systems … oh and don’t forget the space ships and light sabers.
Nope, I’m not seeing WoW with a Star Wars skin; I’m seeing the game that I will leave WoW for.