Saturday, November 29, 2008

WAR is shrinking

Yesterday I wrote in a post on a different subject about Warhammer Online that WAR was shrinking. Somebody with not a lot of reading skills read that as "WAR is sinking", and asked me what evidence I had for that. So, for the record, I don't think that WAR is sinking, but I do think it is shrinking. Evidence, besides servers being merged, is for example from XFire, where the hours of WAR played by XFire users is steadily declining.

Of course now somebody is going to say that this is again just evidence, not proof. Which opens up the question how you could possibly prove that a game has a decline in subscription numbers. The only one who has that information is the game company itself, and they aren't going to publish numbers unless they look good. An absence of press releases about growth is an indication, but not proof, of decline.

So the only thing one can do is look for indirect evidence: XFire numbers, number of servers and whether they are full or empty, and so on. This opens up ample opportunity for fans of the game for the first stage of grief in the K├╝bler-Ross model: Denial, usually quickly followed by Anger. So "you have no absolute proof" is followed by "you only report negative things about that game because you hate it". All perfectly natural.

I have no agenda, hidden or otherwise, whatsoever towards WAR. I would have liked it to succeed more than it did, for the simple reason that I think more competition in the MMORPG market would be a good thing. I do think Mythic and EA made a nice pile of money with WAR, so all is not lost. The "miracle patch" 1.1 looks promising, and even Wrath of the Lich King won't hold players forever in WoW. Having said all that, I will continue to report any news about WAR, positive or negative, as well as my opinion about WoW, positive and negative. You just can't reduce these incredibly complex games into simple formulas like "WAR good, WoW bad" or the other way round. They both have their good and bad sides, and their strengths and weaknesses appeal to different kinds of players.

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