Thursday, January 27, 2011

Spectator Sport: Warhammer Online

Due to the nature of watching the rankings on MMO's, I have what I like to call "speed dial" for the various forums and blogs of the MMO's I track. It is interesting to see the views of different players as I rank their games on the tracking services. Whether they be a standard supporter, forum troll, or fanboi blog, the discussion is ripe for commentary.

Today I will be starting a small series called "Spectator Sports" and present a rundown on what is happening in the forum/bloggo land of various MMO's.

My first victim is: Warhammer Online.

Personally, I think this is the most needed game discussion we should start with.

Something happened in 2010 for WAR and the Mythic/Bioware based team. It was simple at first. Talk of hacked accounts, which happens in most MMO's, started the wheels turning. Then a massive billing issue which lead to a large fiasco for almost 3 months. Players were hurt by large charges applied to their credit cards...even players who were not subbed were struck by large charges and overdraft issues.

Time went on and then news struck of people being let go, including Josh Drescher (who seemed thorougly surprised by this, stating on Twitter "Not EXACTLY how I expected the day to start: As of 11:00 AM today, I am no longer an employee of EA Mythic."
This continued as news that Games Workshop was suing a fan site, Warhammer Alliance for misuse of their logos and product...(which is fine, as the site was using the IP to make money, but does not look good to a standard player).

Then came EALouse. Truth? Fiction? Hard to say. What we do know is in the consumers eye, it creates a disturbance. I will let you read the blog, on the off chance you actually missed this and make up your own mind.

Around two months ago, Mythic released patch 1.4. A much discussed, but controversial patch for WAR. Due to the fact that at the same time as this patch hit, RvR packs were introduced. RvR packs were "Micro-transaction" items like extra levels and more.
Riots ensued. Talk of "buying level ups" and using an items style store while still charging full price caused a clamor in the community. Based on the various tracking services, player retention fell. Discussion of empty servers was bandied about on the forums.

The domino effect was felt throughout the community. The standard monthly producers letter disappeared. The chatter and excitement felt by the Game Director, Carrie Gouskos, and Community Manager Andy Belford disappeared from their Twitter, to the point that WAR is not even mentioned anymore by them.
Fan blogs, a huge staple for the Mythic community, started to close up shop. The rhetoric by various blog posters seem to ask;  "Where is Mythic?" 

This leads us to today. How is WAR holding up?

If we look at the forums, we see many a disgruntled player and troll. When your largest thread is about another game (Rift vs Warhammer) or posts ask "What is Mythic doing" or Why doesn't your Game Director ever post on the forum (Why Doesn't Carrie ever post here), something must be amiss.

Don't even think to head to an offsite forum (like MMORPG.com)...scary.

Lets see how bloggers are talking...

VAN HEMLOCK writes "All in all, I get a feel that the Warhammer Online forums are a somewhat darker place than the other forums I’ve visited so far, and complaints of being ignored and poor communication seem commonplace."

Bootae notes "You just have to look at all the WAR bloggers that are just treading water (if they’re posting about WAR at all) because there is quite simply nothing to write about other than concerns or total flights of fancy. Those flights of fancy these days are just asking to be laughed at and it gets boring writing negative stuff; we want to have exciting things to ponder on, clues and gossip to debate. Unfortunately at the moment it’s a bit flat and the only people that can change that are Mythic."

backseatdev says "The game no longer appears to be growing in content and hasn’t really in a long time. Very small updates released many months apart are mainly just fixes and everything seems to point towards nothing even remotely subtantial in the works.... don’t know what Mythic’s answer will be, but as a player, I feel like I need to help manage their expectations that people will keep paying subscription fees for a game that isn’t living up to a subscription fee model. Hands up, how many people feel like they got a full $45 boxed games worth of features every 3 months from Warhammer Online? It is time for a change."

So, as we "Spectate" here, how is Mythic managing their expectations of their audience? Where is WAR headed?

Comment away!!!

3 comments:

Grimnir said...

I have this sneaking suspicion that EA has more or less pulled the plug in the WAR life support and is holding a pillow over its face to prep everyone for SWTOR in early May. Granted, the 40 thousand or so still playing WAR probably aren't going to dwindle that much further anyway regardless of how much 1.4 is really pushing them. From all accounts SWTOR will need every penny to recoup their initial massive investment.

There's really no excuse for the silence over the past couple of months unless their intentions are less than honorable. If they're all sitting at the end of an EA string, then I feel bad for them. Currently, any respect they had from the community is hitting an all-time low as you've pointed out, and it's really hard to argue with that.

Hudson said...

You should check in with Werit over at Werit's Blog

Elementalistly said...

@Hudson
I have. That is where the "Where is Mythic?" link posting comes from (lol)

Werit is very good when it comes to general information on WAR with no major punditry. I do appreciate that.

But, to be honest, the discussion coming from so many other points seems to be more entertaining...and definitely more abundant.