Sunday, July 13, 2008

Weekend of Big News

We had a couple surprise announcements come out over this weekend and MMO bloggers are having a field day. It seems I spend a couple days disconnected and the next thing I know the MMO industry has lost a studio and part of an entire game. It's always sad to hear news about cutbacks since it can influence the entire market. Luckily, in this case we're dealing with unique cases and I think we'll still see heavy investment in MMO development. Still I'm going to be watching upcoming games much more closely for signs of trouble.

Mythic cutbacks on Warhammer content

It looks like Mythic was told not to push back its release date on Warhammer again. I've heard they made some big improvements to the game since Spring, but haven't had time to polish all the content. As a result their dropping four classes and four starting cities from the game. I've heard a lot of denial from fans and Mark Jacob that that was not a decision handed down from EA. Coincidence speaks otherwise since all of a sudden EA Mythic is being allowed to go back to their former Mythic title. It just hints horribly that a marketing department somewhere thought this would offset suspicion of EA's involvement in rushing the release date.

I'd much rather see Mythic delay again and release with all the content in Warhammer, but that would probably mean releasing directly against Wrath of the Lich King. It's become obvious ever since Age of Conan that Warhammer's best chance of success is to release before Blizzard is done with their expansion. I mean if 700,000 gamers flocked to an unfinished product like Age of Conan then EA knows that Warhammer is likely to pull in even more. However, this advantage can be lost if Wrath of the Lich King comes out in all its shiny new glory. It will probably dominate the MMO landscape for at least five months.

Flagship Studios was Axed

Its funny that a studio that focused on Diablo clones would crumble soon after Diablo 3 was announced. I'm sure it wasn't directly related to the announcement, but more a result of Hellgate London not selling well anywhere outside of Korea. Its a shame though since their other game Mythos was in the process of being turned into a nice little MMO. My guess is that HanbitSoft will take over the development of Mythos and we'll probably see it eventually being released in North America. I just hope that some of the developers of Flagship will be backed to work on the project. A lot of them are former members of Blizzard North who founded the Diablo series.


Heartless_ said...

I don't buy the EA garbage for a second. The Mythic name change is in line with every other studio under EA's umbrella currently.

I've learned, the hard way, that major MMO announcements on the business end are often just as simple as they appear. Rarely, is there a conspiracy involved, especially in the case of publicly traded companies.

But that doesn't make for good blogging, so us bloggers gotta get our DING from something and conspiracy theories are easy :)

Heartless_ said...

Damn, hit enter too fast. I wanted to tackle the idea that Mythic is somehow "not completing content". Mythic already has a platform for content greater than any MMO on the market. They've really thought WAR out, something that a lot have argued is lacking with Blizzard and WoW.

I don't think Blizzard failed to plan out WoW, but I also believe they didn't plan MUCH for WoW other than stringing out quality expansions.

Mythic, on the other hand, is really trying to deliver a game that has content that operates on a revolving door philosophy. This allows quality to shine through, even without sheer quantity. Everything in WAR, so far, is designed to keep players engaged, not to simply pass them off to the next tier.

Its tough to say, but quantity of content takes time. No game is going to come out with a ton of quantity. What matters is that the game feels complete at launch and that the content matches that.

Having two captial cities that function from Level 1 to Level 5, are fun to siege, and can be captured is far more important than having four more of them.

Mark Jacobs said it best. Until the Campaign System gets run under by players they will not have the feedback needed to make the capital cities as great as they can be. So, no amount of delays are going to help get those four extra cities done.

People seem to be unwilling to admit that Mythic is making the right decisions, because they are so used to companies just dumping hollow promises into games, just to say "Hey, its in the game!", even if the feature sucks ass.

Relmstein said...

The only thing that worries me about having only two main capitol cities is the potential for lag. The class cuts were personally painful to me because I wanted to play a Choppah, sniff sniff.

Timing the name change at the same time they are announcing the cutback of content in Warhammer is just a horrible idea. They should have waiting a few weeks so people didn't associate the two events. I don't think its a conspiracy just bad marketing that was designed to make Mythic seem more independent and it kind of back fired.

As for Warhammer having better designed content for the long run. I really can't make a decision about some of the systems like the Tome of Knowledge and City Sieges until the game actually releases. I like what I hear, but because of their hype machine (Paul and Mark Inc.) I get too much interference to get a good feel for the game. I know it will be more complete then Age of Conan and actually have PvP systems in place at launch, but I'm suspicious of everything else.

Openedge1 said...

I have to agree with Relm on the name change.
Why did Bioware get "Individual" status out the door? Because it is a known and well liked brand, like Blizzard.
Mythic is not so well known, and as such, the reasoning for the EA/ branding. Also, I am sure EA would love to be back on the MMO success bandwagon.
Pulling the EA/ now, and then news of issues and changes sounds suspiciously like EA distancing themselves from WAR as to not have it affect any other properties. EA already seems to have a name brand issue as it is, and is attempting to change that.
After AoC, WAR could have left a lasting impression on EA, as AoC is to Funcom. Because the game is not the issue for Funcom, it is Funcom itself.
Mythic has a hard road ahead and has a lot to prove.
Lets hope that happens.