WAR, what was it good for?
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 26 September 2013, 7:54 am
I don't think the answer is "absolutely nothing!". There is a lot of Schadenfreude in the blogosphere following the announcement that Warhammer Online is closing down. People quote an ancient announcement that "WAR has 5 years of content", which sounds funny if you interpret it retroactively as "WAR will be closed down after 5 years". Many other bloggers mention the "bears, bears, bears" as prime example of what went wrong with the game: The game was over-hyped, and then under-delivered. And amid all that the contributions of Warhammer Online are forgotten.

I would say that the communication of the WAR developers to the community was exemplary. I wished that other game companies would be as open about their vision for their game. Of course then I would want a game in which that vision is also realized and works sufficiently well, which is where WAR failed in my opinion. But I don't think the solution should be to develop games only in secret and not reveal anything about them before release.

As a blogger, and related to the previous point, WAR also constituted the high water mark of MMORPG blogging. Never in the history of MMORPG were there as many blogs with as much activity as on the day before WAR was released. Unfortunately many of those blogs died in the weeks after release. A few changed from being "WAR blogs" to being "MMORPG blogs" and survived until today. But no other game since then has managed to launch a similar amount of blogging activity. Again, it is easy to dismiss that as false hope at the time, with WAR being a blog killer, not a blog starter. But just imagine how great the blogging community would have been if WAR actually had delivered on their promises!

I also appreciate very much the contribution of WAR to the MMORPG genre in the form of public quests. The implementation was flawed, but we wouldn't have the better implementation we now see in newer games if WAR hadn't dared to try this feature.

In all this I see a common theme of daring vision followed by failure to execute. But I am not really convinced that I prefer what came after in the industry: Good execution of the tried and trusted without much risk-taking, nor much of a vision. I guess some people blame WAR for making the rest of the industry so risk-averse. But I always considered it better to have tried and failed than to no have tried at all.
Tobold's Blog

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