Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Five Reasons Destruction is more popular than Order

The population imbalances that currently exist on many of Warhammer's servers seem to be the direct opposite of how players distributed themselves in World of Warcraft. It's a little weird that evil races would be so popular in one game over the other especially considering their similarity. Yet the trend does exist as most Destruction players have noticed long login queues and very few opponents in the RvR zones. As I mentioned a couple days ago, this probably has a lot to do with Order players taking advantage of the quick scenario timers to earn renown points. However, this doesn't explain why so many people initially decided to choose Destruction in the first place.

If you travel back in time you might remember the article from Terra Nova where a writer accused the Horde faction of being evil. This is laughable in the face of some of the Destruction quests in Warhammer, but back in 2005 the Horde were considered the "bad guy" faction. I believe the article was originally written to highlight moral choices in video games, but the author also hinted that it was the reason why the Horde were so unpopular. Other people also pointed out that their races tended to be ugly, especially the female versions. It was thought that this discouraged many players from choosing to play Horde. Also since battlegrounds weren't in the game at launch there was no queue advantage for being on the smaller side.

Warhammer Online launched with both scenarios and no traditional raid content. You would think this would discourage people from choosing the more populous faction. Unlike classic World of Warcraft there just aren't as many immediate advantages to being on the larger side. A numbers advantage may help in the RvR zones, but a lot of those depend on participation from both factions. In fact I believe a lot of quests located in the RvR zones require players to kill a certain number of enemy opponents. Trying to accomplish this on a server with a 2:1 population ratio is going to be impossible and I think most people realize it. So why are people stilling queueing up to play Destruction?

There are several theories out there.

1) Mythic really hyped the side of Destruction
I don't think Mythic favors one faction over another, but all the early promotional material focused on Destruction. It wasn't until a few months ago that I started getting more information on the Order classes. I think that Mythic started polishing the Destruction side first and it affected the availability of material to the marketing department.

2) Goblins are just plain cool
In general the short races tend to be less popular in most games. However, goblins seem to buck the trend with their gremlin like appearance and insane sense of humor. There was a very strong demand for goblins to become the new playable race in the Burning Crusade expansion. I remember several polls where they came out as the number one choice by players. In Warhammer Online they have two very well defined classes with a lot of information that was released early on.

3) Both sides have humans
One statistic that remains the same throughout almost every fantasy MMO is that humans are the favorite race. It seems in general that people are more comfortable playing a character that looks human. In World of Warcraft only the Alliance had humans and it probably contributed to their popularity over the Horde. In Warhammer since both sides have access to this most superior race it doesn't negatively affect the population balance.

4) Destruction really is Evil
An interesting theory is that the Horde weren't made evil enough. Starting with Warcraft III, it seems that Blizzard decided to portray the Horde as a collection of "noble savage" races who just wanted the freedom to form their own nation. Players who might like role playing as bloodthirsty monsters saw little difference between the Horde and the Alliance. Thus when one side had an obvious advantage in world combat they had no problems switching. Mythic has made it quite obvious that their is no moral ambiguity with Destruction, they are bloodthirsty monsters.

5) PvP fans like Destruction
In World of Warcraft the Horde quickly gained a reputation for being the better PvP faction. The quicker battleground queues and smaller number of raiding guilds made the faction focus more on player versus player combat. Also Blizzard had attempted to increase the faction's popularity by giving them superior racial abilities which gave them a slight advantage in the arenas. Since Warhammer Online is more PvP focused it make sense that it attracts more Horde players then Alliance. This unfortunately hints that more Order players will leave the game when Wrath of the Lich King comes out.


wilhelm2451 said...

How about the "sexy" factor? One theory about why Alliance outnumbered Horde in WoW was the fact that the Alliance had good looking characters, especially female characters.

In WAR if you want to make a "hawtie" you pretty much have to go down the dark elf path.

Cow Nose the 50 Pound Cat said...

Mm, good blog, I generally agree with a lot of your points.

Green Armadillo said...

My theory is that the NE hunter crowd heard how everyone refers to them as "huntards" and decided to roll something more bad-ass looking to be like the cool kids.

Crimson Starfire said...

I agree with wilhelm. A large majority of the male population (especially the teenagers) would have rolled dark elves purely for hawtie factor. Order really doesn't have an equivalent. The high elves just aren't promiscuous enough ;)

Sad but true.

Rhey said...

Female witch hunters have nice asses, too bad the higher level coats cover them up.

Danarchist said...

Well the simple fact of the matter is on the character creation screens the "epic geared" destruction lineup looks WAY better than the order one. If your a new player you will likely be drawn to the coolest looking group of three right? I am not sure how they can fix this other than pimping out the order models on the creation screen. I think another factor may be that the beta testers know which zones are annoying to get around as you level. Both the dwarf and high elf zones are a PITA to get through, whereas on destruction side just the dark elf zone is annoying.

Ed Colmar said...

You only have to go as far as the character creation screens to figure this out.

All of the chaos toons look great. nice gear, sexy, tough, dark.

All of the order toons are ugly, wimpy looking gear, and no hawtness. Even the female elves are impossible to make look pretty.

Thallian said...

Excellent reasons all. Thanks for the great breakdown.

Dunkelrot said...

Order's more prevalent on my server, even though in beta Destruction outnumbered them 2:1. I think we're seeing a shift bringing the numbers in line with the Wyatt Theory: Boring white people like to play boring white people.

Relmstein said...

Well you can always get an idea of how the population is being split by looking at the server selection screen. Mythic is generious enough to have a queue description for each faction on each server.

So far from what I've seen there are only a couple servers with a higher Order description.

We may see some balancing out over the course of the next month, but I worry that the release of Wrath of the Lich King could throw it off again.

Bryan said...

I been playing this game for over a month now, destruction looks cooler and overpowered that why alot of people choose it. I won most of my RvR during 1-10 level, but after that, order lose all the time, unless you don't go as a PuG.

Rhey said...

Also the mounts that destruction gets are hella cool, while order just gets the same old crap

William said...

thts all true good blog post i love how geared up destruction looks compared to order they suk also i love druids and marauder is closest u gonna get also witch hunter sexy factor lol and rvr capital crunching looks cool just waiting on the trial 2 play now

Anonymous said...

You said "Blizzard had attempted to increase the faction's popularity by giving them superior racial abilities which gave them a slight advantage in the arenas."

"[...] the only racial that actually improved a player’s average rating is Perception [...]" -Tom Chilton, Lead Game Designer, World of Warcraft.

Perception is a Human (Alliance) Racial, so how are Horde racials "superior"?

Giuseppe Nelva said...

Personally I doubt wrath of the lich king will offset the balance further in favor of destruction (if it will affect the balance at all, I think Warhammer Online has more than enough to keep it's players on november, and attract more, leaving mostly people that weren't interested in warhammer in the first place to play Wrath). WOTLK's major feature is the death knight, which isn't exactly the most attractive class to the ones leaning towards the "boy scout" side. Quite the contrary. Maybe we'll see a reduction of all the kids that flocked to chosen :P
As for the current situation in Warhammer, there will always be a population imbalance. 100% balance is impossible, but people will naturally go to the servers that better suit their playstyle (expecially when server transfers will be implemented, and something tells me that Mythic will allow them before WotLK launches. They are smart kids, and they aren't letting their userbase go without a good fight). I for one like the good balance that's on my server (Phoenix Throne). As of now the only imbalance is in tanks (destruction has more), but it just takes the implementation of an human knight class to balance that. The game is quite great (and IMHO superior to wow in too many aspects to count), so it's definately worth waiting for things to balance out.

Anonymous said...

"[...] the only racial that actually improved a player’s average rating is Perception [...]" -Tom Chilton, Lead Game Designer, World of Warcraft.

Perception is a Human (Alliance) Racial, so how are Horde racials "superior"?
Perception is a Human (Alliance) Racial, so how are Horde racials "superior"?

lol maybe Tom Chilton don't know Tauren Stomp Undead Cannibalize and the new BE racaial abilities :)

Obelisk said...

While the destruction classes do have more of a badass look some of the order does look pretty cool. Personally I think female warrior priests look awesome. They have the Final Fantasy Tactics kind of look which I always found to be pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious how many people play an 'Evil Tabletop Army' and that's why they decided to roll Destruction ... personally, I love my Beserkers of Khorne.