EpicToon Smacktalk: Is Warhammer Online On Its Death Bed?

Warhammer Online announced free character transfers this week for players in the Iron Rock and Volkmar servers, as Mythic prepares to close them down permanently. With only two servers remaining, is WAR facing its final days?

Russel’s Rant

Before I launch into a long-winded tirade refuting Mick’s doom and gloom in WAR claims, I’d just like to thank him for inviting me to write on the EpicToon blog, I’ve been a long time reader and I appreciate the chance to lock horns with him. That said…

It’s hardly the end for Warhammer Online.

Here we go again. An MMO merges its servers and the apocalypse is proclaimed. Just because an MMO doesn’t hit WoW-like subscriber numbers, it doesn’t mean it’s the end.

It’s true that EA Mythic’s aspirations and gamers’ hopes for Warhammer Online were a lot higher, but I think the post-Warhammer/Age of Conan era has shown that publishers and developers need not target WoW-like numbers for success.

One need only look as far as Sony Online Entertainment, who successfully run EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Planetside, and Star Wars Galaxies with subs definitely under the 300K mark for proof. In fact, just a few days ago EA came out and stated that the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic would be profitable if it managed to retain ~500K subs.

What I’m trying to say is that while the numbers might not be all that and a bag of chips, if the publisher is making money and the player base is happy, who cares? Not every MMO needs to be a behemoth.

Probably the biggest hit will be to the game’s community, at least in terms of pure numbers. However, that’s what server mergers are designed to combat, a thinning of community, right? If anything, this move might be good for WAR. Generally speaking, most of the die-hards will stick around and the community will probably be considerably more organized and fun as a result.

WAR Is Dead! Long Live WAR!

Mick’s Shtick

Welcome Russell and I look forward to many fruitful debates. Don’t mind me if I sometimes go for the jugular.

WAR players are survivors in every sense of the word. The MMO has been pretty much left for dead by EA and Mythic, and this latest round of server shutdowns just puts another nail to the fast-closing coffin of WAR.

I mean, when even obscure eastern MMOs (Jade Dynasty anyone?) get more press coverage and buzz these days than Warhammer Online, then you know its days are fairly numbered. Part of me thinks the developers are not without fault here, particularly in inspiring confidence in the game.

It’s the simple things. Browse through the front page news section of the WAR homepage and you’ll see the last item updated goes way back to September last year, a not particularly positive interview from ZAM no less. Should a new player stumble upon WAR, there’s a chance that he’ll think the game’s not being updated.

And what MMOs don’t get updated? Dead ones.

Mythic has said before that more than drawing in new large crowds, they’re focusing more on keeping the current subscribers logging in. But that’s a lot to ask of them, given the temptations scheduled to pop up this year. DC Universe Online is already stealing players away from WAR and I’d wager RIFT will have a cut of their pie as well when it comes out early March.

The newest producer letter hinted at plans of “expanding existing areas and features as well as new concepts to the Warhammer Online experience.” Here’s hoping those exceed the “just good enough” standard they’ve been coasting on, for player retention’s sake.


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