We do not know the official release date of either Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, nor of the second World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King. But all crystal balls and other scrying devices point towards a scenario in which both of them come out before Christmas 2008. And odds are that WAR will be released a month or two before Wrath of the Lich King. End of September for WAR and end of November for WotLK is one plausible scenario. And although this scenario could still change, it now appears extremely likely that at some point in the next 6 months you will have to decide which of them you want to play. You could try to play both, but that is likely to not work very well. Or you could play neither, in which case you'll be considered a minority in the MMORPG demographic. So for millions of people decision time it is. Most of these millions will go for Wrath of the Lich King. Not even the Mythic guys themselves believe that they'll outsell WotLK. But that's just statistics and finances, and it doesn't really make your personal choice much easier. How will YOU decide?
Knowing myself, I'm aware that I take decisions like that by gut feeling on a day-by-day basis. I can't even tell you what game I'll play next weekend, because I simply haven't decided yet. But I know I'm not playing a lot of World of Warcraft right now, because I'm burned out and bored. So I am looking forward more towards WAR, because it is more different from WoW than WotLK is. There is more new content to explore in a new game than in an expansion of an old game. WAR has 20 new classes, WotLK has 1. WAR has 6 new races, each with a line of zones and quests leading them from level 1 to the level cap, WotLK has no new races, and only new zones from level 70 to 80. So I'm absolutely certain that I will buy Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning the day it comes out, and will play it as soon as possible.
But as I said, it is likely that a month or two after the WAR release there will be the WotLK release. Mike Morhaime recently mentioned that an unspecified number of players left World of Warcraft for Age of Conan, but two months later 40% of them were back. And that was *without* Blizzard releasing much extra content for WoW. So the really hard decision will come on the day that Wrath of the Lich King releases.
My prediction for myself, although I'm not absolutely sure, is that by the time Wrath of the Lich King has come out, the new game smell of Warhammer Online will have worn off a bit. There will be still new content to explore in WAR, but there also will be new content in WotLK. And then the two games offer two distinctively different promises for the endgame: The RvR PvP endgame of WAR vs. the dungeon and raid PvE of WoW. And personally I still don't like PvP. And I love dungeons. So I think that I'll put WAR on hiatus, play WotLK for several months to level up one or two characters to 80, and do all the dungeons and raids my heart desires. And at some point I'll be as bored of WotLK as I was bored of The Burning Crusade, and I might go back to WAR.
WotLK for me will probably have priority, because I don't want to miss the window in time in which WoW players will do normal difficulty level Northrend dungeons. If you tried to find a normal difficulty level Outlands dungeon group lately, you'll know what I'm talking about: At some point months after release most people have gear better than what they can earn in a normal difficulty dungeon, and then nobody wants to go there any more. Everyone just wants heroics and raids, with only the fact that the "daily heroic" is different every day bringing some diversion into an otherwise very repetitive schedule. Looking back I don't regret I took a 7-month break from TBC, I just wished I had taken that break a bit later, and still played a bit more while people were still doing normal dungeons. With WAR I don't have the feeling that I'll have to play it at some specific point in time or lose out. You don't get kicked out of a PvP group for not having the same gear level as the other players. First of all it's not even clear that there will be huge differences in gear level in the WAR endgame (I still hope that not). And then PvP is either scenarios (battlegrounds), where you simply can't get kicked out, or it is open world RvR in which the more the merrier, and any added members can at least serve as cannon fodder, even if they don't contribute much otherwise.
In the long term I really can't say whether I'll prefer WoW to WAR or the other way round, or some completely different game. But for 2008 I'm pretty sure I'll still go for World of Warcraft, and only play Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning while waiting for Wrath of the Lich King to be released. Mythic still has a hard job ahead to convince me that I secretly like PvP, I just haven't seen it done right yet. For now I still think I prefer group PvE, and that means WoW. How about you?