What? Me Worry?
by: Tony "RadarX" Jones
Competition. To some this word inspires fear that only the prosepect of having to watch another Uwe Bolle movie could inspire. To others it makes muscles tighten and brings a fiery stare which sends their enemies fleeing. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning releases amongst a few other major contenders which will make this one of the most interesting times in MMO gaming history to date.
Running against both PC and console titles how will it fair towards the fall?
Our purpose here is not to incite discontent or make predictions about success or failure, but to point out a few interesting challenges EA Mythic might need to overcome. Keep in mind, this is one writers opinion, but here are five things they could likely face this fall:
First and foremost let's go ahead and take a look at the five hundred pound gorilla right in front of us more commonly known as Funcom's Age of Conan (AoC). If for some reason you've been living under a rock when it comes to MMO game industry news, this adaptation of Robert E. Howard's Conan promises to bring players into a tumultuous world of danger and adventure. AoC also promises to be the first MMO Game ever rated "M" meaning those under 17 won't be allowed to join in any reindeer games.
The hype surrounding this game is unlike anything we've seen in awhile in the industry and from the rumors and retail news floating around it appears sales have already been promising. Even though it has PvP and well designed content, should Warhammer Online worry? Not a bit. Warhammer Online's system is based on Realm vs Realm where AoC depends on a system of guild wars and minor skirmishes. These games seem to have little in common despite the fact they are frequently compared, and with AoC being released up to five months earlier, the overwhelming excitement should have settled in a little.
Next, let's look beyond the five hundred pound gorilla to the five thousand pound one behind it, better known as World of Warcraft. Well established and currently seen as the standard for MMO games, this behemoth has just recently showed signs of losing steam but continues to roll on. With it's mass appeal and continually expanding market, will Warhammer Online be able to crack into it's extensive player base?
Specifically there might be concern with the release of Wrath of the Lich King the next expansion. An expansion is sure to draw people back into the game and encourage players still there to continue their efforts. Assuming recently leaked Alpha screenshots are real, this could very well put this expansion into the fall of this year as well. While World of Warcraft does have some similar features in regards to PvP, it's main focus has and always will be PvE which will separate it greatly from Warhammer Online. There will be no mass exodus of any kind, but it will certainly bring a player or two over, especially the more hardcore players.
The holiday season is enough to cause many to stare off into space, fearing the impending necessity of shopping. Money is spent left and right during this time and while that might actually sound like a good thing, it isn't always. While people are in fact out buying all kinds of electronics and toys, there is heavy competition this time a year. Some companies make a majority of their profits in those few precious months.
How does it affect Warhammer Online? That will depend entirely on the release. There are many rumors and guesses of "October" and the end of that particular month starts to trickle into this hallowed time of year. Running up against so many other options could potentially limit sales and hurt overall but because a specific launch date hasn't been announced there is only speculation and conjecture.
Speaking of the retail season, one product in particular threatens to consume the market, Grand Theft Auto IV. No, I'm not kidding. If you haven't been following the news at all this week, it has been dominated with reviews, previews, political outrage, and more reviews. GTAIV is already being hailed as the best selling game of all time (which would take a majestic mantle away from the Halo series).
Anything such as this grabbing the attention of PC gamers reduces the likelyhood of them shelling out for another game. You might be thinking "The game just came out for consoles, will it even be on the PC in the fall?" Historically? Yes it will. They've typically released ports for these games within a 6 month time period which would jam it right towards the end of October, just in time for the holidays.
Finally, one of the largest challenges EA Mythic will face is living up to the Warhammer Intellectual Property (IP). While perhaps not as extensive as Dungeons & Dragons or Lord of the Rings, it is revered in parts of North America not to mention in various countries across the world. For your product to live up to such a high standard is not only daunting, but requires a great deal of care and work.
These could readily be the easiest part of the development process a game company can mess up and has the potential to alienate some of your community. Watching the development team in action however, and seeing what Games Workshop (the company who oversees some of their work) says, it's readily apparent this is a high priority.
As you can see there are a few things EA Mythic will face in the coming months, and we could probably sit down and analyze them even further. What is most interesting however is from what we've seen so far at press events, it appears the team isn't worried about any of this and is just trying to make the best game possible.
What do you think Warhammer Online will face in the future?