Monday, July 21, 2008

Dates solidfying for WoW and War

Well the upcoming MMO war is getting it's start date a bit more solidified as time moves on. Many software retailers are marking down Warhammer with a September/October release date which seems to be consistent with the recent cut back of content by Mythic. What I find funny is that the Wrath of the Lich King beta was announced soon after Mythic made their move. Based on past betas run by Blizzard this put the release date somewhere around November. I get the distinct feeling that Blizzard is afraid of leaving the MMO market alone with Warhammer for too long. With the Burning Crusade we saw Blizzard extending their release date by a couple months to get everything nice and neat. This year I doubt they will be able to do this and we might get to witness the rare event of Blizzard actually making a deadline.

Mythic has a lot of content they recently cut from the initial Warhammer release and I bet it can easily be packaged into free patches for the game. Plus most of this content is going to be primarily PvP combat which has a longer shelf life then new raids or dungeons. Mythic can easily use the addition of more capitol cities as a method for introducing new scenarios and sieges into the game. Blizzard should be aware of the long lasting effect of PvP content since they haven't introduced a new battleground in years and they're still popular as hell. In my opinion Blizzard needs to throw down a lot of new content almost right on top of Warhammer if they don't want to lose a good portion of their subscribers.

I believe that Warhammer will easily set a new sales record for a MMO when it releases. We're probably looking at a number that reaches over the one million mark in the first week or two. A lot of these people are going to be coming from World of Warcraft, but aren't going to cancel their old subscriptions during the first month of play. After that time frame though a lot of people will start to make the choice to go with one game or the other. If the Wrath of the Lich King expansion isn't directly on the horizon at this point then most people are going to stick with Warhammer. The raiders will probably switch back as soon as Wrath of the Lich King comes out, but I don't think their numbers will be that high.

Quite frankly for the longest time a lot of people raided simply because World of Warcraft was the most appealing game around and its end-game was raiding. Blizzard has slowly been trying to introduce other activities oriented around PvP, but it's been an uphill battle. Warhammer is going to enter the scene with what looks like a very complex and rewarding PvP system right off the bat. Blizzard is trying to match Warhammer by introducing things like Lake Wintergrasp and siege engines. However, their most impressive content keeps on being PvE oriented like the Occulus dungeon or the new achievement system. I thought that Blizzard might be in a position to take the crown once again, but I'm beginning to wonder if they can do it without introducing some new PvP concept that Warhammer doesn't have.

The month of October will most likely be the showdown between these two games. Mythic will be announcing patches for Warhammer and experiencing that first steady surge of new players. Blizzard will probably be releasing lore and screenshot walkthroughs of its more impressive WotLK dungeons. As the first free month ends for Warhammer and the release date gets closer for WotLK we'll start to see the numbers moving one way or the other. While neither company will announce the declining growth of subscription numbers, both will trumpet rising subscription numbers. Thus depending on performance either Mythic or Blizzard will issue a press release and we'll know who is outperforming the other. Then again it could be that MMO players decide that 30$ a month isn't that much and both games have growth well into the new year.


Anonymous said...

Blizzard obviously feels that their raiding game is second to none, but since I mostly PVP I will be moving to War.

Karl said...

I am thinking we will see something at the end of season 4 for the arena.

Openedge1 said...

PvE can be good if done right. So far, few have done it well.
EQ2 and WoW coming to mind here.

I have found PvE enjoyment in other games as well, but like Guild Wars, the PvP is a good draw.

AoC was suppose to be a good iteration of PvP, and turned into a joke, and so many others are lame (Lineage 2)

Now, is it possible that WAR could have a good amount of BOTH?
I am interested in finding out.

I do know WAR is not pandering to the Casuals (no housing and unsure of other small items like collections, fishing, silly stuff like that) so, as long as PvE has good combat and fun things to do otherwise (like the Guild System at least has some fun things, and crafting looks interesting) I will be happy.


Relmstein said...

Yeah, as long as Warhammer has a couple of PvE dungeons I'll be happy. But I'm worried about the long term prospects of a game that focuses mainly on PvP combat. I'm not a raider but I know they tend to the hold the end-game players together.

I have a feeling that Warhammer will eventually get a raid oriented expansion much like DAOC.

Bill G said...

Blizzard is certainly acting like they have competition for the first time since soon after WoW was released. That will be good for everyone.

Anonymous said...

WoW BGs are as popular as they are because of the gear rewards. I know many people who do them strictly to get the honor and marks to buy season 2 gear, then stop forever...

This takes ~200k honor and a month or more, depending on playtime and on just how much it angers you to be forced into PVP to get decent PVE gear.

Unfortunately, the cycle repeats when you make a new twink.

If you ask a random set of BG participants whether they like PVP or are doing it strictly for the PVE gear rewards, you may be surprised at how many are in the situation I describe here. :)

Anonymous said...

In the end I think WAR will suck away quite a few WoW players.

1. WoW PvP is not much fun. Yes people do it, but they do it because it is the only path to gear upgrades outside of committing to 20-30 hours a week of raiding and giving up your family/social life. If you have a level 62+ toon, go join an AV and ask how many people REALLY want to be there.

2. Arena - see above. I don't know many people who truly love it. Most grind out their games merely to attain the gear, and don't play extra matches because they love it with any great passion.

3. PvE - WoW's raids tend not to last as long as EQ's could (12 hours in a Plane, heh), but the social & attendance requirements most guilds put on raiding is just prohibitive for a lot of people. Raiding participation has dropped on both my old servers, especially with the BG and Arena systems - for 1-2 hours a week you can Arena your way to guaranteed epic rewards instead of spending 25+ hours listening to some guy cuss in Vent. Blizzard behaves as if Arena is a great success - and if you merely look at participation rates, it is. But look beneath the surface of WHY people do it. For example, even season two weapons far exceeded almost anything dropping out of raid instances prior to Black Temple. Everyone feels forced to Arena.

3. Right now, WAR's PvE content is going to blow away WoW's. Namely, public quests and the repeatability thereof, with epic rewards available. Instantly repeatable without building the perfect tank/healer/3 cc group. The cool factor of flying a dragon dropping bombs loses its luster after you've spent time trying to gather a competent group and then done the place 40 times without seeing the drop you wanted.

4. The Tome. I've gone over the list of "achievements" Bliz is sticking in and really, it's not nearly up to snuff in comparison.

5. Dedicated PvPers will head for WAR. Both the gameplay and the guild support will draw PvP folks like bees to honey. We have done some city raids now and just let me say, it's gobsmacking fun!

In the end I suspect quite a lot of people may do what I intend to do - play WAR, wait til WoTLK has been patched a few times (read: 4-6 months when they fix itemization and whatever else is completely broken this time), then activate WoW and level to 80- mostly because I simply would enjoy seeing the new zones. Then I'll quit because I have no interest in ever raiding again in WoW, nor in grinding honor/arena for gear.

So both games will intermittently benefit financially, I think. Perhaps not simultaneously, but over time I'd say a lot of us will pay them both for a few months off and on. And really that's good for us because it will force them to innovate and work hard, something Blizzard has not done in 3 years.

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