Return to the Promised Land

November 26, 2008

Because a lot of fret and worry has been spilled over the number of WAR players who (supposedly) returned to WoW for the expansion pack — including, it seems, the formerly WAR-only Casualties of WAR guild/blogger social network — I’ve tried to stay aware of what’s been going on over there in Blizzardtown. As far as I can tell, a majority of people are giving the following two reports:

  1. Wrath of the Lich King is very well-done, interesting, pretty and caters well to the casual player.
  2. And it’s very, very quick.

“Quick” not as in “someone hit level 80 within a day of launch”, which is the sort of insane goal that’s expected from hardcore geeks, but “quick” as in “the bulk of the pre-launch level 70s are now, or shortly hereafter will be, level 80.” The Burning Crusade wasn’t anywhere near this speedy with its population ascent — trust me, I was there.  It remains to be seen how much of the new end game Blizzard’s rolled out will retain the current crop of players, but this lightning-fast chow down of the new content gives me a gut feeling that after another month or two, gamers are going to get restless once more. Including and especially the ones who returned from WoW from WAR.

I mention this because this is a narrow time window that may be a blessing in disguise for Mythic. They have a few months of being able to blame Wrath of the Lich King for subscriber drops before the onus falls fully on them — and they have a few months before the famous game-hopping crowd could be searching once more, possibly looking to give WAR a second chance.

If WAR beefs up, shores up its weaknesses, incorporates the new tank classes, gets the ball rolling on serious oRvR fun, improves game performance, and really ups their PR — EA should be throwing a lot more muscle behind this property than I’ve witnessed — then, sure, it could be a second, “soft” launch of WAR, one to fully convince players that the title’s on the way up in the world, and is so much more worth playing now than ever before.

Of course, that’s a lot of “if’s”, including the presumption that WoW-WAR gamers will get bored with Lich King in that time period. In any case, the public profile of Lich King should die down enough to let the other MMOs regain their voice and slice of the journalistic pie — and that might just be the right time to begin trumpeting WAR anew.


  1. Ive heard the same thing about people going through Lich King very fast. But don’t forget, By the end of the year (supposedly) Darkfall (among others) will be out. It completely revolves around PvP, which is a big calling for WAR. It will make for some serious competition if half of Darkfall’s beta comments are true. MMORPG.com has listed Darkfall as top 3 most anticipated MMO for more than a year. For the most part, only relegating number 1 to whatever game that was about to go gold.)

  2. I think you’re right – there may be an opportunity for various games to pick up the bored Wrath players. It worked for LOTRO to some extent, though it also launched less than finished and didn’t do so well retaining them. Mythic may well have this in mind with their rapid push to fix as much of the game as they can as quickly as they can. If they roll out a free re-trial program of some sort in late spring/early summer, Mythic could make up some lost ground.

  3. That’s funny, because I was thinking the same thing about how fast people have done the content in World of Warcraft already. People have already cleared all of the new content (Nax) available in the expansion already. Which is pretty crazy I think.

    Our server noticed the slight hit after the release with the oRvR, and scenarios being quiet. However shortly afterwards, our server seems to have become alive in full force now. Kind of like the initial launch.

    Also what’s kind of amusing is that while I’m level 40 already. I’m still only renown rank 40. Which means I still need to get 40 more levels before I really reach the cap. The hardcore levelers will be a long while still before they reach that goal yet.

  4. It took me four days to get from 60-70 and double that for WoTLK. I wouldn’t say questing in Northrend is quicker at all. The zones are massive.

    As far as WAR, playing Wrath makes it much harder to go back. From the questing to the new PvP zone…this feels like advancement in MMO development. What innovations WAR offered just didn’t scale well. Many things I figured Blizz would take, I don’t think they will now.

    When I get bored of Wrath, and I will. I’ll check back with WAR. As long as it’s fun I’ll play it. But as it stands now, Wrath is just a much better product in every way.

  5. The whole time the blokes at Mythic are attempting to get their “soft” launch out the door, Blizzard is going to be constantly updating WoW too y’know.

    There is a LOT to like about the new expansion believe me, and I honestly think War might have a tough time getting those lost subs back.

    This is coming from someone who’s played both games now, and I’m trying to avoid being a generic ‘WoW fanboi’ here but seriously, I’m having more fun grinding my Death Knight through Outland (AGAIN *sigh*) than I ever did in War. I really wanted War to be fantastic, but it just didn’t have that special something that made me want me to log in and play, at all.

    People are going back to the better game I guess, because War doesn’t deliver. Sure War is new, but WoW has raised the standard for gaming now and people aren’t going to settle for less. It’s sad, but that’s how it works.

    P.S. Sorry about the slightly long and fanboy-ish rant, but the War vs WoW thing has been bugging me for a while. : /


  6. I agree with you – i see mythic looking to position themselves in 6 months as an alternative for WoW’s bored players – saying “yes we had problems but we ironed alot of them out – now you’ve played wrath to death come and give us a go”

    I just hope they merge some servers as mine has gone from Medium/High to low/low recently.

  7. I admit I am not currently playing WAR but am playing WoW, but not for the reasons you would think. I cancelled my WAR subscription because I am unemployed and can’t afford it, but a friend of mine really wanted me to join him occasionally. “Fine,” say I, “If you pay for it.” And he did.
    I had originally planned to play WoW for PvE and WAR for PvP so I’m thinking of reverting to that stratagem once I can afford it. WotLK is very, very well done insofar as I can tell compared to TBC, and the terrain brings memories of mt hyjal, easily my favourite “zone” in the game – but LOTRO still does it better, and PvP is still a shambles. I’ll be back to WAR soon enough, never fear! XD

  8. I wish they would add some variety in keep layout. It would be a lot more fun if every keep take wasn’t the exact same, and adding more doors doesn’t count.

  9. Excellent observation.

    Call me crazy (/crazy) but everyone who is screaming for faster leveling is a little off base. I like it slower (no pun intended) so that the game feels fuller and more substantial. If everyone hit 40 in WAR already the game would be just too fast and people would really be complaining big time. Sometimes a slower progression is better. Now, if we could just get some more/different gear choices. . .

  10. “…and they have a few months before the famous game-hopping crowd could be searching once more, possibly looking to give WAR a second chance.”

    Totally agree. My guesstimation is that the “big” Open RVR changes won’t be seen in the 1.1 patch. Instead we’ll probably only get 20% of them and the rest will come over the following few months. So by February or March, we could finally see some really engaging Open RVR combat with meaning and purpose to it.

    What’s interesting is that I think WoW players may be looking for something else at that point and not sooner. Why? Well yes you’re right that leveling is happening pretty quick but that’s more due to the mobs being fairly easy to drop (i.e. my 71st level warrior was taking down a 79th lvl mob or groups of 76th lvl mobs). But getting to 80th level doesn’t end the game, it only starts it for raiding which is why most of the hardcore guilds are leveling there characters so fast.

    Our WoW guild is more casual though but we do have people at 80th level. I’m guessing that by Christmas or just after it, we’ll start doing coordinated raid runs again which is the part of the game that we enjoy the most. That’s what I’m finding missing from WAR at this very moment. Keep combat is extremely simplistic and boring. They need to increase the complexity of it so there are a variety of ways to take over a keep and thus make it much more engaging (and of course meaningful in terms of capturing it).

  11. Hope you’re enjoying vaca!

    Lich King just came out a few weeks ago and folks have already finished it? That sounds like a console title not an MMO expansion.

    I agree with you that Mythic could use that as a springboard. Heavy Metal has been nice and the two new tanks will help. I wonder what live event they have planned for the month of December … perhaps some special Xmas thing.

    Enjoy the rest of your vaca and like you, I’m looking forward to the future of WAR.


  12. It was definitely felt, the launch of WoW. But I don’t think anyone needs to get panicky just yet. This kind of churn and post-launch fallout is normal of MMOs since their inception.

    It’s just more public now in the post-WoW world of online gaming.

    Me? I’ll happily bounce between both. 🙂

  13. Q1 of 2009 is going to very important. War/WoW players will have reached the point where WoW WoTLK fatigue should be settling in.

    The 1.1 needs to be a seriously progress patch. Since any returnees need to be hooked and landed for more than standard 1 month subscription period.

    Now the real trick with the returnees will be holding onto them if they left with characters in tier 2 and tier 3. Since now the tier 2 and 3s are alot emptier than when they left.

    Which is why Mark Jacobs referred to the lack of Tier 2 and Tier 3 ORvR action. It seems Mythic have recognised that without a hook at these lower tiers, then returnees will be faced with a grind upto Tier 4, which is probably exactley why they left in the 1st place. Those players need get back into Warhammer with a passion, and be enthusing about the vast improvement to their friends.

    GOA and EA need to pull there fingers out of there collective arses and be ready. Otherwise Warhammer will be referred to in the past tense.

  14. I’m not so sure they’ll get bored after only 2 months. More like 4-7 months if at all. There’s a lot to do, even for those of us who generally don’t do much of the raiding content. A lot of the WoWites that tried WAR were just flat out bored with months of stagnation. Another big factor will be how frustrating/painful the level 80 arena seasons will be. I think there’s also a significant number of players who simply can’t enjoy open rvr because of their slower computers, so WoW is their only real option.

  15. Yes, i agree WAR will get another chance to “take” players fon their side. I like WAR and i am waiting for some bugs/improves performance too. I think RvR is very FUN and it should be more fun, becouse ther prepere some changes. Waggghhh. Regards.

  16. […]This isn’t a bad thing, per se, but as Syp has noted, it does mean that people will expend the content much quicker […]

  17. Herbert!

    Jason (resident drunken idiot of Channel Massive)

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