The latest Virgin Worlds podcast was part 2 of a top ten MMOs of the future series. While the entire podcast is very entertaining, it was not a huge surprise that Warhammer Online was the groups #1 game. That said I was a bit surprised how far ahead it placed in terms of expectations and the feeling that it will be a quality game. This got me thinking, how huge will WAR be?
I always laugh whenever a game is tagged a ‘WoW killer’. The only possible WoW killer is Blizzard’s WoW 2, and even then it would only be a killer if it had similar specs to allow the current fan base to switch without having to upgrade hardware. Back on point, no game is going to come out and ‘kill’ WoW, just like WoW did not kill every game before and after it (unless the game deserved to die like Motor City Online).
That said, it IS possible to cut into WoW’s 8 or 9 million subscribers, or post a sub base of 5 million plus. If any game has a chance, it’s going to be WAR. As noted in the podcast, it would seem that the next wave of MMOs will usher in a new era of PvP focused gameplay. With the harsh fan reaction to TBC’s raid-focused gameplay, the scene is set for PvP to come in and steal the show. Instead of a 5 hour grind, grab 5 friends and go compete verse other players on a battlefield, be it for 30 minutes or 10 hours, the ‘content’ is always there, ready and waiting.
The difficulty with PvP is that if the balance is off, the player base will be quick to catch on and demand changes, or simply leave. Yet again, if anyone has a chance to achieve that balance, my money is on Mythic. Say what you want about the shortcomings of Dark Age of Camelot, but the Realm vs Realm aspect was ahead of its time. While by no means perfect, it certainly brought PvP to a new level, and really expanded it beyond the simple ‘group and gank’ gameplay.
Now Mythic is set for round two with Warhammer. It’s RvR 2.0, and from all the info available it really seems that Mythic is focused on making that aspect the crown jewel of WAR. Let’s assume it works as well as it sounds, how big could WAR get? Will it steal the PvP players from WoW, along with those bored of raiding? Will it bring in Warhammer’s already considerable tabletop fan base? And perhaps most importantly, will it have the ‘snowball’ effect WoW had? Will it reach 2-3 million subs and become the new ‘it’ game that people will play based on word of mouth, leading to the massive growth that propelled WoW to the record-breaking numbers it enjoyed in its prime?
It has the buzz, the solid IP, a solid dev team, and EA’s marketing money.
It has that ‘perfect storm’ feel to it. Now it just has to deliver.
(And it could gain more buzz if someone would slip me a beta invite and I could secretly blog about it, hint hint)