As I predicted back in January, Warhammer Online : Age of Reckoning (WAR) is going to be shut down before the end of the year. (Ignore all the other predictions I’ve made that haven’t yet come true. There’s still time! THERE’S STILL TIME!)
I’ve already spent a bit of time looking at how WAR basically destroyed Mythic Entertainment as a MMO studio. WAR has only been running one or two active servers for over a year. Many people (including myself) have wondered why EA kept this game running for as long as they did, but given the official reason for closure is that the licencing deal has come to an end, it appears that whatever deal Mythic signed with Games Workshop meant it was cheaper for EA to let the game run on than to cut it off until now.
This is also the second Mythic title to be shut down this year, the other being Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes. This leaves the studio with Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot and Ultima Forever as active games and no announced new titles under development that I’m aware of. That’s not a great sign for the studio’s future.
Some will inevitably blame EA for WAR’s failure to ever reach its potential, but EA poured a lot of money into Mythic to make WAR competitive with World of Warcraft. When WAR launched with a text chat system that lacked basic functionality I took it as a symptom of a much greater issue: Mythic had spent a lot of money trying to build big things while hyping up how great it was going to be, but failed to nail down the basics. It was only shortly before launch that players were given the opportunity to start playing ‘full’ WAR instead of testing limited areas, with the discovery made that while the individual components of WAR might be fun, they didn’t fit together well as a game.
WAR will go down as a MMO with some fun aspects, but one that never lived up to its full potential. It was also a title that, when it flopped on launch alongside Age of Conan, started the MMO industry on the downward spiral it still exists in today.