Rationalizing Removal with Mark Jacobs, Part 2
The announcement last Friday that Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning would be losing not only four of the racial cities, but also four classes sent a shockwave of fear throughout the WAR community. Message boards lit up with both portents of doom and gloom as well as acceptance that it was the right thing to do. Never one to let the community linger in doubt over such an important decision regarding WAR, Mark Jacobs took a few minutes out of his schedule to sit down and clarify some of the major points of his earlier announcement with us. Here is what he had to say about some of the question flying through the WAR community's mind at the time
Ten Ton Hammer: According to the interview over at MMORPG.com, you said you had made the decision to remove 4 of the racial cities a few months ago. What made you make that announcement now vs. then?
So long, High Elf city. Maybe next time around.
Mark: The decision not to have six cities happen was made a while ago. Whether it was going to be four or two was a much more recent decision. As to why? Timing. We release good news, and when we get bad news we usually release it right away, other times we dont because we want to think about it more. See if we have any other options, we want to be sure of what we want to do. So in the case of the cities going from six to two, I would not have been able to say some things about the capital cities that I now can. I wanted to talk about how many more quests are in there, how many more public quests that are in there.
All the other things we have done, by focusing on two rather than four or six. So its not a question of hiding the announcement, its waiting until we have something more definitive to say. Instead of just saying sorry were cut down the cities, thanks very much. We could have waited even longer into the development process, but that wouldnt have been right. This was the time.
Ten Ton Hammer: Well, and we (the WAR community) really respect your stance on it, because you come right out and tell us whats going on.
Mark: Exactly, thats why I laugh at some of the threads out there. They say, youre doing just what other developers have done. Actually we have done the exact opposite. We told you guys. We could have waited a ton of time to tell you. We didnt. Tell me if this sounds familiar, keep the NDA up until after the game launches, then tell everyone. We did not do that. We did the opposite, we told everyone. Heres some bad news, here is why there is bad news, and here is some good news with it.
Ten Ton Hammer: In regards to the game being this close to release, do you think this decision will have an impact on the overall sales for WAR?
Mark: No, lets look at this realistically. Out of all the people who will buy WAR, do you think they closely follow the game? So there is a whole lot of people who, when they buy the game, wont know if we had twenty classes or twenty four classes or thirty classes two months before launch, four months before launch, or fourteen months before launch. They just dont know because they have not been really following the game. There is a whole group of people right there who dont know and really dont care because they dont know that we had twenty four classes.
Next thing, out of all the people who are really following the game, I think it is safe to say that the majority of them did not want to play just one class in the game. I think that is a pretty safe assumption, I cannot prove it, but it is safe. So maybe now, what we are left with is a smaller percentage of people who were really interested in playing that class, who might only be interested in playing that class. However, once they think about it more and once they see the other things in the game, I think that percentage becomes very small. So do I think this will have an impact on sales? I think it is safe to say that we might lose some people, but it is a small percentage overall.
What?? The Black Ark is no longer HERE?! How're we going to get home?!
One thing posted on the beta forums was this game is not, Choppa WAR, its not Hammerer WAR. Its WAR and WAR is made up of many different races and many different classes. For those people who are Warhammer fans, it was always more about the entire game, than just one class. Just to be clear, nothing else is planned to be cut out.
The game is just much more than that, it is the entire experience. It's not just that career. Do I think well lose people? Maybe. I am hoping we actually gain people who might have been on the fence. Who say, "Boy, after the launches of some of the MMOs we have had over the last decade, maybe we are a little burned out, or a little bit weary of other developers." They might look at this game and say, "Wow, this is a good decision. You guys are really focused on quality. That is a great message. You are going to cut out things that arent great in order to make the game better overall."
So I am hoping in the end it will be a wash, if it isnt there is nothing I can do about it. I think it is a balance, if we had released bad classes, or bad careers or in post launch had to really clean things up and make a lot of changes, I think that would have cost us more users. I mean we have been through that cycle where we had to change classes in DAOC and we have seen the cancellations. We have gone down that path where we had to make changes to archers, and the uproar that was caused, or to stealth, or to pretty much anything in DAOC. There would be some people who quit because of the changes. So, if they are going to quit, I would rather have them quit now, than three, four, or six months into their subscription, where we have really messed up because we couldnt get it right and players end up feeling like a yo-yo. No player wants to ask, What is Mythic going to do to my career today? In balance, I think it was the right decision, even if it does have a little bit of a short term impact.
I do think there were some really good things in that announcement as well. I think PunkBuster is great. It shows the players we are really trying more than ever before that we are out to fight against cheaters. Guild Beta just started today, it is now up. If you look at everything that happened in the last twenty-four hours, I know everything is not fantastic. I wish we didnt have to take out the classes. But in the balance, were in pretty darn good shape. Were so focused on making a tremendous game in terms of quality. It is not about the scope or anything, I mean we are willing to make those tough choices, as hard as they are, in order to make this a great game, andI think that is a really good message.
Be back tomorrow for part 3 of our interview with Mark Jacobs.
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