Now I am going to venture into the completely unanswerable just because it amuses me.
Modest system requirements are always listed as one of the more important factors in the success of WoW. It is something that, at a gut level, I agree with. It seems logical. It seems like a good, solid hypothesis. It is too bad you cannot actually test it. But you can think about it.
Suppose back in the Fall of 2004 both World of WarCraft and EverQuest II came out exactly as they did, but with the minimum system requirements for the games exchanged. WoW still looks the same, but you need a better machine to get in and play. EQ2 still looks the same, but now that lowest graphics settings, the “cannot see anybody’s face” mode now runs on a lot lower system, with similar adjustments along the different settings.
Does this change the market at all?
Is WoW still number 1 in Europe and North America?
If so, by how much of a margin?
Does this kill WoW in Asia?
Does this make people more patient with EQ2 for six months while SOE works out the game dynamics?
Does the huge difference between lowest and highest graphics still hurt EQ2?
Does the considerably smaller difference in settings quality mitigate the raised system requirements for WoW?
I’m not looking to change the past, I just like to explore “what if” scenarios in my spare time.