Gamesindusty.biz has an interview with Paul Sams of Blizzard that’s worth checking out. Not for any factual reason, but because of the entertainment it provides. In true Blizzard fashion, Sams does his best to avoid any actual mention of an MMO outside of WoW, although he is somewhat forced at times by the questions. The first question of course is the ‘headliner’ of the interview:
Q: Did you notice a drop off in World of Warcraft users when Warhammer Online launched?
Paul Sams: Not significantly, we’ve certainly had some of that happen, which is the same thing we experienced with Age of Conan and each time an MMO has come out we’ve seen some amount of reduction of use. The good news is that we’ve seen a significant number of people, well over half, that cited Warhammer as their reason for leaving – they’ve already returned.
There’s some great PR work in that response. First, the amount leaving was NOT significant (what exactly is significant when more than 50% of your base is in Asia, where WAR was not release?) yet the amount returning IS significant… right. And it’s not just that the people returning are significant, but just the ones who stated they are leaving for WAR. Considering many people pay for more than a 1 month sub, and that it’s only been about a month since WAR’s release, what percentage of the population are we talking about here, a few hundred, perhaps a couple thousand? How many of those multi-month WoW accounts are dormant right now due to WAR, but don’t show up in the canceled status report? How many people (like me) just quit, without going into detail on why I’m done with the raid treadmill that is set to restart on Nov 11th?
The fact is, we won’t know anything about the numbers until 3-6 months from now, when all long term subs have had a chance to expire, and both games have settled into their respective spots. When you give a significant portion of your upcoming expansion as a patch (3.0), of course some of those already-paid accounts are going to check it out. Just like many are looking forward to another 10 levels of PvE grind before they again are ushered into raid/die endgame. That’s all short term stuff, and at a price of $15, it’s not unreasonable to expect some back and forth before things settle down.
This bit I found somewhat amusing:
Q: As the leading MMO, there have been a number of other developers Blizzard has inspired. Are there any business or products outside of the gaming industry that inspired you?
Paul Sams: Well I think certainly there are a lot of developers that would say that there are certain popular movies and certain popular comics and novels what have you that were an inspiration to them. Like all the companies that make the types of games we make, Tolkien was certainly an influence. All of the product offerings in our business have in some way shape or form being influenced by Tolkien and have been influenced by a variety of other incredible creators that have come before us.
Tolkien huh… Odd that your orcs don’t look much like Tolkien orcs, but they sure do look like another fantasy IP’s orcs… It’s too bad the question was not a bit more direct, but it’s cute to watch Sams deflect it and give the general ‘movies comics and Tolkien’ response. What comic/movie had a ToK in it? That idea got added rather quick into WoW huh? And what exactly did Tolkien have to do with influencing Lake Wintergrasp and the switch back to your ‘core’ gameplay of Alliance (Order) vs Horde (Destruction)?
It’s of course unreasonable to expect Blizzard to come out and say “yea we looked at WAR, they have some great stuff, so we scrambled to duct tape as much of that onto WotLK as we could”, but to just outright pretend you are the only MMO in town is a bit much.