The last dregs of WAR’s keg

frenziedsquigUntil recently Werit was the last one of the graduates of the Warhammer Online School of Blogging who was still playing and writing about WAR.  He left and is now despondent over the future of the game.

It’s been about four years since I was blogging about WAR non-stop — that was over on WAAAGH! — and yet I still carry warm feelings about the game.  Ultimately, it didn’t succeed to either be a firestorm PvP title or a mainstream PvE hit, for many reasons.  But that first year ride of anticipating it, blogging about it, and finally playing it was a heady rush.  There were many things I loved about WAR, which is why I’m sad to see it slumped over and limping toward the inevitable conclusion.

I don’t think there’s any hope for this title right now.  I’m not saying that it’s irredeemable garbage, but that there’s no path forward remaining.  I have no idea who’s even left on this project, as its last big name, Lead Developer Keaven Freeman, left in April, followed quickly by its CM.  The company has eliminated the six-month subscription and hasn’t done anything productive for the game since a Return to Ekrund event this past January.

The obvious course of action would have been to convert WAR to a free-to-play title in order to get that nice boost of publicity, returning/new players, and (hopefully) influx of cash.  But that opportunity seems to have passed by a while back, and one of Mythic’s bigwigs outright said that the cost of doing a conversion is too high and wouldn’t likely be recouped with the results.

Beyond just WAR, Mythic appears to be a mess.  It’s lobbing these get-rich-quick Hail Mary schemes that aren’t panning out.  It tried to jump on the MOBA train with Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes, and couldn’t keep that going long enough to even make it out of beta.  Its latest enterprise is Ultima Forever, a mobile dungeon crawler that’s been getting raked over the coals for its aggressively bad monetization scheme (in short, your gear degrades so much that you end up either farming lowbie content to afford repairs or just pay real money to heal up).

So you have a studio that’s handling three aging MMO properties (UO, DAoC, WAR) and is not investing any serious time, money, or effort in bringing significant new content for any of those, but is instead pouring its resources into the latest fad in hopes that money woes will be solved.

It just feels like such a bad way for WAR to go out.  The game had its initial issues and certainly didn’t live up to the lofty promises that the devs were making in 2008, but it’s a solid title that should’ve gotten a second lease on life with F2P.  Instead, it’s wheezing and fading… and I think soon shall be gone.


10 thoughts on “The last dregs of WAR’s keg

  1. Belghast August 15, 2013 / 9:06 am

    I still carry a nostalgic torch for both DAoC and WAR but unfortunately in both cases… it was because I enjoyed the PVE aspect of the games. I was a Gaheris loyalist in DAoC… aka the carebear “cooperative” server that allowed us to play characters from ANY of the realms together. In Warhammer I was also a huge fan of the PVE content and the whole book of deeds concept with various interesting PVE unlocks out in the world. As much as I would love to see those games go to a free to play model… my fear is in both cases they would be even more anti-player than the SWTOR model. Especially once you consider just how egregious the money grabbing is with Ultima Forever.

    I rattled on about this the other day on my own blog… but I feel good about supporting a game that rewards you for being a paying customer… but feel absolutely no love for supporting the ones that punish you for not being a paying customer.

  2. Frank Sanchez (@PhoenixRed) August 15, 2013 / 9:07 am

    It seems only yesterday that we were all working together and excited to be writing and promoting WAR. Warhammer Alliance was a labor of love for me and the staff who worked for me, and I made many long-lasting friendships from the project. I too have warm feelings about the game and maintain many contacts from Mythic who have since moved on to other projects, but I’m also sad for where it is, too.

    If it makes you feel better, the various personalities in the WAR fan community have done well for themselves – I work Community in the games industry now, you’ve of course done well for yourself at Massively, and I know a couple WAR bloggers who’ve landed at Bungie and Zenimax, respectively. So while WAR wasn’t as big of a success as it could be, at least it opened doors for many people.

  3. paeroka August 15, 2013 / 9:27 am

    For me, WAR will always have a special corner in my heart. It was when I got into finding, reading and following gaming blogs (it started with Waaagh and then continued to all the others that were writing about the game) and it eventually led to me starting Nerdy Bookahs to blog (not just about GW2, but other games as well… I started with Rift, after all ^^).

    WAR was also the first game that I found “pre-release” and where I experienced all the hype, expectations, etc. and even though it did disappoint me, I still liked all the pre-release writings and the first week of the game with its open beta and the excitement of launch.

    I actually installed WAR again last week to have a look at it now, with a much better PC and all that. It was just so sad to see the same glitchy flying demon that was there when I’d last checked out the game. I guess that just clearly shows that EA isn’t investing in the game anymore.

  4. HarbingerZero August 15, 2013 / 11:59 am

    We were just talking about WAR as we wound our way through Rifts this week. I doubt the F2P thing has any tie to money – if APB can get money for the conversion, WAR can. The truth is that they don’t *want* to go F2P, as evidenced by missing all the golden opportunities to do so with all of their titles, including DAoC. Even in that interview the concern is not so much lack of money, but as he says, a lack of satisfaction in the options.

  5. carson63000 August 15, 2013 / 7:09 pm

    Still the saddest disappointment in a decade of MMORPGs, for me. It literally took me several years to get to the point where I could even get enthusiastic about an upcoming game again, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get as excited as I did for WAR.

  6. Lance Cole October 29, 2013 / 5:14 am

    Love Warhammer, and played it for a long time – but of all the ins, and outs, and abouts of ‘what really killed Warhammer’, the truth just isn’t accepted by most ‘power-players’ and ‘super-gamers’, so the pattern is not only carved in stone, but sure to repeat. From not only a ‘casual player’ perspective, but also a 50-year old business manager who’s worked in several Fortune 500’s, I can offer the big points of failure contribution (call it the FMEA of Warhammer), and you can sort them as you deem ‘most destructive’.
    Beyond the ‘class imbalances’ (which were often more overblown than will ever be discussed later), and obvious ‘MMO’ that couldn’t handle 100 people in a dedicated keep battle simultaneously without ‘quicksand lag’ killing your fight, there are some things no-one ever seems to mention, and they are the 10,000 pound elephant in the room:
    1. This wasn’t WoW, so why was it crucified with a WoW hammer, WoW nail, and WoW cross? Seriously, if I heard ‘should be 3 realms’ one more time, I think I’ll scream. Maybe 2 realms could have been better – if the gaming world hadn’t come into this expecting WoW Jr., to start with? Think about it – how long would you have played it, if it were three realms and looked JUST LIKE WoW? You would have screamed, “cheap WoW rip-off”, and that would have been it’s end – right there.
    2. SWTOR anticipation. Face it, threatening to leave a game, because SWTOR was going to be ‘so cool, not like this WoW re-warmed dead carcass’ wasn’t exactly smart, when you hadn’t seen SWTOR, bought the hype, and killed an existing game because hey, that’s the way you roll. SWTOR was another hammer used to bash Warhammer in the head with, and it surely didn’t deserve it.
    3. Playing a game for free is cool. Demanding that you are going to leave (like MANY did in 2011) if it didn’t go FTP was tantamount to blackmail that burned a lot of people, not to mention the game. I personally got SICK of hearing ‘this game sucks until they make it FTP’ is translated to ‘I am spoiled and rich, and refuse to pay a cent to finance my gaming wants – so I will go to Wallie World and pay $60 for Halo3 instead, because it’s cool.’ Seriously people, this world doesn’t get to be FTP, whether its your car loan, or your mortgage. How can you reasonably expect a game to be free to play for any length of time? Tell you what, go on Yahoo Games, play a few of those, and get back to me on your gaming quality – THAT, dear people, is what REAL FREE TO PLAY looks like – Tetris, that’s about it.

    Fixing it? Oh, I wish. Could I fix it? Yep, and it would be profitable again. Anyone going to listen to me? Nope. Oh, well. First off, change the name – call it Mythios or something. Drop the expensive copyright totally. Fix the class mirror, simplify it a bit too. Leave it at 2 realms. Now, give a 30-day FTP in Tier 1, and after 30-days, ERASE THE TOONS. You are DONE freeloading in a paid game that others chunk out $15 a month for, only to live in Tier 1 and make it hard to build toons. Every 30-days, You can rebuilt your twink monsters, or walk away, or join and pay. Treat PAYING CUSTOMERS like PAYING CUSTOMERS, and ignore the freeloading riff-raff. That’s what took Warhammer down SEVERAL bad paths that destroyed the game. STOP LISTENING to the window shoppers, stick with the customer’s desires.

    Won’t work? Hey, so you say. Let me know how that new 2014 Mustang looks in your driveway, as soon as you get Ford to GIVE YOU ONE FOR FREE. Not going to happen, why treat a $100-million game differently?

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