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Blizz: room at the top for Conan and WAR

But a WOW-beater will need to be great.

Speaking to Eurogamer, World of Warcraft producer J. Allen Brack - currently working on second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King - has said that there's no reason this year's competing launches, Age of Conan and Warhammer Online, can't succeed alongside it.

In an interview published today, Brack said, "I think there's room for all three of those games to be successful".

He revealed that Blizzard wasn't gunning for its rivals to fall at the first hurdle. "The worst thing for our industry is for online games to come out and fail. They cost so much money to develop, and it's so difficult, and it's such a huge labour of love to launch an online game, for it to fail is sad for everybody."

Brack and lead designers Jeff Kaplan and Tom Chilton all agreed that WOW's success would be good for the MMO industry in the long run - expanding the market, and promoting quality - and felt that it would be superseded one day, just as it superseded EverQuest before it.

But, said Kaplan, the game that eventually replaces WOW at the top of the MMO tree would have to be of a very high quality.

"What I think WOW has done, is that when that game comes out, it's going to be really, really good," he said. "No hard feelings when a game comes out and beats WOW, it's going to have to be a great game."