The Warhammer Death Spiral

From the minute I started tracking Xfire statistics for MMOs, Warhammer Online was trending downward. I missed a few weeks and when I went to catch my numbers today I was taken aback by what I saw. Xfire users are spending a third the time in WAR that they were a mere two months ago. That’s not a slow leak of subscribers, that’s people fleeing with their hair on fire.

WAR’s numbers are still fairly decent – it’s ranked #48 today (For reference, Age of Conan is #52 and the numbers are very close.) But it won’t be if this trend continues. By the time Cataclysm comes out, we may find Warhammer at the bottom of that whirlpool between Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms.

I’m not for a minute suggesting that Warhammer is doomed or beyond saving – that would be grossly premature. But it’s increasingly looking like Mythic is going to need a major move in the next six months to halt the tsunami of departing players. I suspect that Aion is stealing, or will steal away many players for whom WAR’s PvP did not live up to its potential. Aion’s surge is inevitable at this point, but three or four months after it launches when all the shine has worn off… that will be when Mythic needs something decisive. Unless Mortal Online gets in the way.

10 responses to “The Warhammer Death Spiral

  1. WAR will struggle unless they pull something out the hat, Aion will probably steal some of their player base for a month or so (or maybe just 45 mins *wink* ) but I think they will get the majority of them back. WAR needs a strong finish to the year or perhaps even an announcement of a third faction.

    It will be interesting to see what happens thats for sure

  2. It’s unfortunate to see WAR’s decline. It’s a harsh lesson in how few mistakes you can make these days in the MMO space. With a king on the hill and lots of other choices to dabble in, it’s very easy for players to say, “Screw you guys, I’m going home!” You simply MUST deliver on your promises. It’s definitely better in this climate to promise less and deliver more than the reverse.

    These AAA titles are “pay for” entertainment and you just can’t F around with players anymore and think the masses will wait around while you get your act together because they won’t. Furthermore, fewer will return with each rabbit you pull out of hat to get them back. Ugh, it must suck to be them right now.

  3. MO won’t have any effect on WAR or Aion, just very different markets. It might have an effect on DF, but that’s only assuming MO gets 2-3 miracle patches and um… actually starts working.

    I do agree on WAR needing something very major a few months after Aion is released, when the pretty-dress glow is off and people start looking around again. They basically need to release a free expansion-worth of content, stuff that really changes WAR’s end-game and makes it something worth looking forward to, rather than something people dread. AoC was able to turn itself around, and I think WAR can as well, but only if they can do SOMETHING to fix end-game.

  4. I agree that the failure of WAR is a disappointment. But I also feel that Mythic made more than just a few missteps; I think their design, while very solid on the tactical level of players vs. player and group vs. group, fails at the levels above that – the metagame, if you will. I also think that, while it’s important to fix the endgame, it’s equally important to fix the rest of the game as well.

    I think I’ll get started on a post about that.

  5. How about making retrieving/sending in game mail less of a frustrating experience – hell steel Runes of Magics code – and the Auction House more easily sortable to find EXACTLY what you are looking for? Its amazing how much these little things will tip the scales towards unsubscribing when they go unaddressed a year into the game.

  6. I have to agree the in game mail and auction house were in the range of epic fail at launch. I didn’t think you could failed at those features in this day and age. I guess it goes to show what happens when teams purposefully re-invent the wheel just ‘cuz.

  7. Aion, unfortunately, is going to be the downfall of WAR. I am sad because WAR was the game I looked forward to more than any other MMO ever. Plus, I loved Mythic as a company. It is sad to see the game I had such high hopes for die a slow death.

    Mortal Online will have very little effect on WAR, the games are so dissimilar. However, entire guilds are leaving for Aion. These are guilds that have extensively played Aion beta and/or the Chinese servers, so they know what Aion is like and won’t be coming back to WAR. Rest in peace WAR, we hardly knew ye.