On Warhammer Online’s Failings

I’ve been letting this blog stagnate a bit sadly due to my RL work load. It’s been two weeks of being up to 1am or so in order to get reports finished, which leaves little time for doing the more enjoyable stuff.

As a quick comment, I was pointed towards a Bright Hub article on what went wrong with Warhammer Online (WAR) and why it failed to live up to its potential / hype. Personally I disagree with the author’s comment that WAR needed another realm – a third bland realm really wouldn’t have added much to the game, especially since realm number 3 would have been Skaven oriented – I agree with most of the other points.

Most articles that look at where WAR failed have an opinion on if the title can recover. The linked article thinks it can – that it would be too embarrassing for EA to cancel WAR, that changes are being made. Here again I disagree – if WAR really did cost south of US$100 million to develop and (at launch) and needed half a million subscribers to “mean we’re successful” then it is nowhere near making any kind of headway into its development debt. With the closure of over 60 servers since launch it is clear that players aren’t staying with WAR; with the firing of Mark Jacobs from his role of President of Mythic it is clear that EA was unhappy with the direction things were taking. But even new management is unlikely to be able to turn things around.

Even if the new management explicitly listened to the WAR community and made all the sensible changes they suggested, it would still take time for these new systems to roll out. WAR has already seen its playerbase shrink dramatically since launch, which cuts incoming revenue, which in turn cuts the available resources to develop new features. This is on top of existing operational costs – running servers costs and customer service staff don’t come free. It becomes a negative feedback cycle, with players leaving because of game flaws, which in turn sees less resources available to develop new content / fix flaws, which sees players leave because of game flaws, and so on.

In my opinion, WAR isn’t coming back. It cost too much to develop and won’t be able to recoup enough money – particularly on a shrinking player base – to provide a return on investment for a long time to come. Perhaps EA will let it limp on until Star Wars: The Old Republic is available, but I don’t even think it will do that. At some point there will be a cull and WAR will find its head on the chopping block.

… this was a quick comment? Sheesh! 😉

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