Lately I have come to the realization that two of the biggest failures of 2008 are now two of my all time favorite games.
Age of Conan and Warhammer Online.
But, a battle royale is coming next week between these two newer generation MMO's. Age of Conan will be releasing their new expansion, Rise of the Godslayer. May 11th to be precise. Why does this create a field of war, when these two games are not so much like each other?
Originally both games were heavily PvP oriented. But, Warhammer took a different approach by making it all about the large open Realm vs Realm combat. Age of Conan went for a guild based "siege" mechanic (I do not want to argue semantics here either. We all know WAR has sieging, but AoC definitely does not have factional PvP...yet.) and one on one dueling. WAR had scenarios and AoC had CTF style arena based 6vs6 style combat.
Age of Conan took a different direction eventually in late 2009, focusing more on a gear grind based PvE system, but still having PvP. Just, it seems to me that PvP really has no "purpose" when you kill for the sake of killing. WAR though has always focused on a "sides" based system. When a particular "faction" has won the day, rewards for all in that "faction" or realm was included. Age of Conan is the every man for himself or his guild fight. WAR is for Order or Destruction being in control.
Differences abound, but the similarities of these two games could not be more adequate.
These games were truly failures of their time.
Both games were hyped beyond compare from their respective game directors, and were not quite up to what was stated about them. Both games opened to acclaim by many and sold as man copies as to try and compete with that powerhouse known as WoW. Both though slowly degraded and were denigrated for many broken systems they had in place.
Eventually the mighty two toppled to where today they each struggle to keep themselves alive.
But, a sea change is on the horizon for one game. Age of Conan has started to gain a larger following. Reviewers of games and many a blog have touted the games turn around. Sales of the expansion have been brisk. And as noted on Xfire, growth is hitting the game before the expansion launch.
Recent numbers show Age of Conan at roughly about 908 players on Xfire. In a previous post from last month, ( The Xfire Game ), AoC was at 677 players. This is important, as using the calc system I discuss in that post, Age of Conan is hitting around 110k players / subs per month. (As I must always note, these estimates are part of a game, using the Xfire tracking system, and are not 100% accurate, but do give a good glimpse of popularity).
WAR had made progress as well with the game, but continues to live with setbacks. Servers were closed overseas. A Large billing fiasco made Mythic the brunt of bad news. And finally a most recent newsletter makes mention of a mechanic that has not existed in the game since launch, having Order and Destruction characters on the same server...which has led to speculation of more server merges.
Using the same Xfire gaming system for sub counts, we also see what effect this news is having on Warhammer Online. The previous count (from March 29th) had WAR at roughly 621 players. This converts to about 75k subs. The game is now hitting 590 Xfire players, or around 70k subs. (Note, this number is interesting, as many a quote has suggested that roughly this many were affected by the billing fiasco...but, that is speculation. I may discuss that more on Twitter later).
Seeing I am playing WAR, I can also feel the difference from when I launched to now. Less Scenarios opening up, less full ORvR groups...basically a feeling of more emptiness.
My thoughts are that when Rise of the Godlsayer launches, that even though WAR and AoC have been neck and neck on Xfire...it will start a larger tumble for WAR. The number of players will fall, and unless something drastic happens soon, WAR could see an end to it's glorious rebound.
What are your thoughts? Leave me a comment. I will be opening wide the comment floodgates today as well, so feel free to "express yourself".