Why Warhammer hype works so well.

Aside from World of Warcraft, the most popular MMO in the US today is… The Lord of the Rings Online, which from what I understand, has about 500K subscribers — about what the original EverQuest had at its peak.

LotRO was clearly the breakout hit of 2007.

But all we hear about is WoW, all the time, WoW. Because as successful as LotRO has been, it’s nothing compared to the behemoth that is the World of Warcraft.

This year, we have two new shinies coming out — Age of Conan and Warhammer Online. AoC would be wildly happy, I imagine, if they got 100K subscribers. They’re going after a niche market, misogynists, and don’t expect WoW players to flock to their game. (Sorry, Bildo. I just can’t support a MMO whose big controversy recently was whether their women could both be decapitated and have visible nipples. In the US, that answer is “yes, the naked women you decapitate will have full nipples, proudly erect for your enjoyment”).

Warhammer has loftier goals. Since Mythic was bought out by Electronic Arts, simply making a more modern update to their groundbreaking Realm-vs-Realm MMO, Dark Age of Camelot, was taken from the table. EA/Mythic is just as large a company now as Activizard, and their goals are just as large to match. You may like pie, but why settle for a slice when you can open a pie shop? Your friend just opened a pie shop!

Microsoft, after all, killed its Marvel Online superhero game because it just wasn’t going to be WoW level. And we can look back a couple of years and wonder if that was the real reason they gave up on Vanguard — because it just wasn’t shaping up to be a WoW killer (among the obvious problems with the development team itself that we’ve all heard about).

So now, the hype machine is in full motion. People are slitting their wrists and selling their souls to be part of the beta. EA/Mythic is whipping people into a frenzy through skilled marketing. And people are buying into it so much, that even though EA/Mythic is quite upright and says, this is the game to play if you want to have the snot beaten repeatedly out of you, and in which you can do some aggressive snot removal of your own if you put enough time into it, make it your serious hobby, people everywhere are saying, finally, an alternative to WoW.

Let us, in our teaming millions, wave sadly to Orgrimmar and sell our farms in the Westfields. The Defias Smugglers have won. Let the fires of Ironforge be banked. Let the undead citizens of the Undercity return to their rest. Let the endless snows muffle the cacophony of sword and spell on the slopes of Mount Hyjal.

Because Warhammer is the promised land.

The question isn’t why people expect Warhammer to be anything like a WoW replacement or WoW 2.0 when, aside from a similarity of visual styles, they are very different. Rabid Warhammer fans will insist they look nothing alike and anyone who says otherwise is a doodoo head, but come on.

The question is, why are people so desperate for an alternative to the World of Warcraft, that can’t be satisfied by one of the many OTHER fine MMOs out there? LotRO and EQ2 are both absolutely fantastic, popular games with enough similarities to WoW to be easy for a WoW player to pick up, yet different enough to give a new experience.

It’s because these games are simply not popular enough. How can they take a chance on a game that only has 500K subscribers?

It is the best interest of every World of Warcraft player to buy into Warhammer and MAKE SURE it has millions of subscribers. Why? So they can finally quit WoW with good conscience. Get on WoW and tell someone you’re leaving WoW for EQ2 and you’ll be laughed from Ratchet to Gadgetzan. Get on and mention that you’re going to be heading to Warhammer when it comes out, and all you’ll see is a chorus of “me too!”.

Warhammer isn’t just a game. It’s being marketed to WoW players as step #1 in a 12 step program to help wean them from Warcraft. Finally, a way for them to stop playing WoW with a clear conscience. Look! Looks kinda WoW-ish, has all the battlegrounds you love so much, and you don’t even have to group up to do some quests!

And then when they find out that Warhammer really is quite different than WoW, they’ll be able to more easily move on.

People love Warhammer because it is the MMO world’s first self help program. And that’s all there is to it.

Published by


Web developer for a Connecticut-based insurance company that's over 200 years old! Also a bicycler, a blogger, a kayaker, and a hunter of bridges.

34 thoughts on “Why Warhammer hype works so well.”

  1. I don’t know whether or not you are. I don’t think you are, but I know you’re a huge advocate for the game, hence my apology in advance. You can read that, as I intended, that I didn’t mean any insult to you personally, but that I felt the game has a strong misogynist bent — something that shouldn’t surprise you, I’ve said that many times on your blog. The recent announcements breathlessly reporting that YES, the game is bloodier and more gory than ever, and YES, those naked women you ogle will have NIPPLES! WHEEE BOOBIES, are absolutely convincing arguments AGAINST playing the game for any potential female gamer. However, I expect teenage boys will be shut in their rooms playing it for hours at a time.

    (Should point out that the original stories were pretty misogynistic as well, which was okay, considering the target market for the pulps for which he wrote were Depression-era teenage boys, and that was clearly another time. They were also extremely racist, and I find it inconsistent that Funcom chose not to emphasize the naked black slaves used for arrow fodder in the stories. I think they could have taken both racism AND sexism out of the milieu and made it a fun game for everyone. This is not the 1930s.)

  2. I won’t be shut in my room… rather in my office. Does that make it better? :)

    Just a quick link to direct your attention somewhere awesome, Tipa: http://www.champions-online.com

    Spring of 2009 can hurry up now please… forget about WAR and even AoC… I want CO. But then again, it could be wretched like everything else… sigh.

  3. I don’t want WAR to be a WoW-replacement. I’m hoping WAR will be a real world PVP game that feels truly epic in scope.

    If Mythic puts out a game where I can work my way from Empire Soldier (and be expected to stand in ranks with a sword) to an Elite Empire Greatsword (still expected to work in ranks/formations), to unit champion, to hero, to general, while fighting against the flood of Chaos, with 100s of real people controlling the characters in a massive battlefield, then I’d be in it in a heartbeat.

    However, I don’t think that’s what we’ll get. I’m figuring we’ll get a game that’s built around PvP, but is mostly more of the same as far as the actual flow of how an MMO works. Mostly, because I don’t think a game that encourages you to be a cog in a giant PvP machine is something you can sell to the mass market.

  4. Heh…. well played.

    I was a big Champions fan back in the 80s and into the 90s. I wrote a cool character generator in BASIC that I wish I still had, it let people make their own abilities. I don’t know how they can possibly take the coolest things about the game and translate it into an MMO, since like most PnP games, the fun was all about being absolutely creative whereas MMOs send you down narrow little paths; and making your character was something that took a few days, usually, balancing the positives and negatives, keeping with your “theme”, making sure your origin and secret identity fit in with the game world, deciding which organizations you would be allied or opposed to, having people you cared for who could be put in danger… like most PnP RPGs, Champions was extremely heavy on story and role playing, since only by RPing and being creative could you possibly get another point for completing a mission. Yup. 1 point. MAYBE more if something extraordinary happened. No levels. No skillups. Just spending points to increase your power or to buy out drawbacks. Five points! I can lose my annoying boyfriend who is always in trouble! YAY!

    ANOTHER thing about Champions — you don’t start out weak! You’re strong! You just get STRONGER! You can buy initially as many or as few powers as you like, as long as you have the points and your drawbacks don’t nerf you out of the game (hence requiring GM approval) (oh, you are powerless when out of water? well, that’s going to keep you out of, say, 99% of your missions… and your power is that you can summon fish? I dunno Aquaman… I don’t think we can use you in this game.)

  5. Well put, Tip.

    I’m going to be watching it closely, and regardless of how it turns out… I’ll be trying it. I’m anxious for something more action-oriented as of late and this aims to feed that. But like you said, I hope the Hero System that is “inspiring” the char-gen is good.

  6. Er… rather, I hope the Hero System “inspired” char-gen system Cryptic makes up is good. Jack Emmert has always said that Champions was his inspiration behind CoH but that because of NCsoft they had to dumb down the gameplay and character creation… here’s hoping being that Cryptic is able to publish this one themselves they can do it right, or at least mostly right.

  7. @Hexx — I can’t imagine EA/Mythic is planning on forcing people into formations. Now, your GUILD might expect you to do formations, in which case, you’ll probably totally rule PvP. I think you’re correct when you say you don’t expect many radical differences from current MMOs. EA/Mythic has too much money in this to take chances. The more they spend, the more they will want a guaranteed hit. And that means, catering to WoW players, since if even a tenth of the ten million WoW players become WAR players, they will have a hit on their hands.

  8. Im eagerly awating WAR myself, but praying to everything holy in this world that 99% of WoW players stay in WoW. Only thing worse then the game itself is the community powering it. But im an old man, and prolly way outside of WoW’s target audience.

    WoW = Waiting On Warhammer.

  9. Ok first off it’s Westfall not Westfield and 2nd there is no snow in Mt Hyjal, so i can assume you’ve played alliance till level 40 quit and now your an expert. The real reason people are looking for a WoW alternative is because the game is cliche and filled with casual carebear children. As for WAR, i played Dark Age Of Camelot for 3 years so yes the PvP will be nice but the graphics look like WoW and from what Ive heard alot of other things. Im not interested in a WoW clone sorry. Aoc has me interested because of the blood, mounted combat and the M-rating to keep most children at bay. Aoc will have much more innovative ideas combined with action based PVP not just button mashing. So enjoy Daoc 2 with WoW graphics and ill be where the party is at.

  10. Well, 60 troll priestess, but you were close :) I haven’t played WoW for a couple of years. Mt Hyjal wasn’t in when I played, but the roads leading to it were snowy. Anyway, details, details.

    I find it interesting that you think the M rating will keep children away, though. That certainly has not been the case with the Grand Theft Auto series, which every teenager I knew (through my son) played. Since AoC is coming out for the Xbox 360 as well as the PC, I expect it to appeal MAINLY to teenagers — and the ‘M’ rating, sex and over-the-top violence will attract teenage boys like moths to an inferno. Have you caught the Funcom interviews at GDC? YOU may say you want to play for the innovative elements. FUNCOM is saying — we’re gonna splatter blood on your MONITOR! Sex everywhere!

    Sounds like teenager heaven to me :P

  11. [People love Warhammer because it is the MMO world’s first self help program. And that’s all there is to it.]
    Sorry to jump into the conversation a little late. But I’m afraid I have to disagree.
    People love Warhammer because it will be a game with MEANINGFUL PvP (the fabled RvR, that brings along such levels of involvement and pride that mere guild vs guild you find on most other games can’t even hope to reach), because it’s based on one of the most fascinating, coherent and deep fantasy worlds ever created, and ultimately because it’s the comeback of Mythic: a company that gave many of us old gamers what probably was the best MMORPG community to ever be born on the internet, and that ultimately gave us many good memories due to the involvement stated above.

    It has actually nothing to do with WoW, it’s shallow community tainted by thousands of lines of l33t sp33k, and it’s mechanics based on hundreds of hours of mindless grinding. Not to mention it’s IP, that managed to turn an already half copied (from Warhammer) and half assed one, into something even more messy and shallow.

    So people that come to warhammer from WoW will find themselves quite surprised, and since for most of them WoW has been the first MMORPG, will finally learn what a true MMORPG is. An experience, a community, a place in wich you can’t be an idiot to the one appearing on your side in the starting zone, because in a few levels you might find yourself having to rely on him to save your silly rear while you’re defending a fortress or trying to push trough a blockade.
    That’s how real communities are born, and a few legends between them.

  12. Well, Abriael, you’re pretty much agreeing with me, when you say people will give WAR a try and finally find a game worthy enough to tear them from WoW.

    However, I have to disagree that WAR will inspire camaraderie among players. People are loyal to their friends; often they are loyal to their guilds; but I have never been in any game where people were loyal to their faction. That’s just too nebulous and arbitrary. I imagine most of the people who come to WAR from WoW will be best motivated by what benefits them the most.

  13. I’m not sure how long and extensively you played Dark Age of Camelot, but there people were definately loyal to their realm. People didn’t invent the expression “Realm Pride” just to give Mythic a catchphrase to advertise on :D

    Of course in other games, where factions are nebulous and not actually involved in any meningful war between each other (like Wow for instance, in wich being part of the horde or the alliance just determines the kind of jokes one will be subject to, probably one of the worst and most anticlimatic flaws of the game), people won’t show any kind of loyalty to their faction.
    Camelot was different. Most probably Warhammer will be as well.

Comments are closed.