Do you play MMOs? Do you – as MMO-related Youtube videos have jammed into our noggins on many occasions – also listen to fantasy-oriented power metal? Well, if you’re anything like us, the two tastes go great together until the vocalist starts belting, yet, when he speaks of glorious battle, fails to mention game-specific character classes, locations, and damage stats. Totally kills the immersion of downing the same legendary baddy for the hundredth time.
Well, while Blue Öyster Cult and Warhammer Online haven’t quite satisfied our rigorous demands, they’ve certainly come close. See, as it turns out, clamshell-themed rock and rollers Eric Bloom and Richie Castellano are both card-carrying WAR addicts, so they teamed up with Mythic to put their love into the form of a song, while also avoiding potential lawsuits!
The result, called “Kiss My Axe (While I Drink My Beer)"… doesn’t sound anything like vintage Blue Öyster Cult, but it’s still pretty good. It’s easily the best song about Warhammer Online’s brand new Dwarf Slayer class we’ve ever heard.
So, crank your speakers, put the horns in an upright position, and give it a listen. With any luck, it’ll wash away the taste of listening to DragonForce’s “Through the Fire and the Flames” for the – well, how many times have you downed that raid boss again?
Update: GM Mark Jacobs confirmed that Mythic has seen a rash of lay-offs. However, he didn't dig into the who's and why's of this sad state of affairs.
Looks like the Fat Lady and Porky Pig are eying Warhammer Online as a possible next gig, though no contracts have been inked just yet. EA surreptitiously tossed Warhammer’s subscriber numbers into its recent investor call, probably hoping no one would notice the compact number’s squeaks and squeals. Unfortunately, the little tyke mumbled its way into an avalanche.
After announcing that Warhammer Online’s subscriber base has dropped from its rapid rise to 750,000, all the way down to 300,000, developer Mythic apparently axed 60-130 of its employees. Even worse, senior designers have reportedly been told to take a hike as well. Granted, this is only a rumor for now, but we’re seeking confirmation from Electronic Arts.
Regardless, though, things are looking grim for Mythic’s incredibly promising MMO. Here’s hoping the game’s upcoming series of live expansions can save this raid from completely wiping, but to be honest, we’re not hopeful.
See, economy? This is why we can’t have nice things.
It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. We’ve spent a good deal of the last 12 months hunkered down at our PCs playing every game that’s come our way. The very best of them have pulled us into their imaginary, action-packed worlds and stolen hours of our valuable time—and we love ’em for it! Others, not so much. Here forth is our frank assessment of 2008’s most noteworthy games.
(Yes, PC gaming news has been kind of WAR-heavy lately. For those who don't play WAR, and can only wonder what it's good for, skip to the bottom of this article for something fun.)
Warhammer Online may be on a collision course with Blizzard's 18-wheeler, WoW: Wrath of the Lich King, but Mythic doesn't plan to flinch out of this game of information super highway chicken.
"Let’s start with what we know is some truly exciting news. I’m happy to announce that in December, the Black Guard and the Knight of the Blazing Sun will officially be part of WAR," said Mythic CEO Mark Jacobs in his first Warhammer State of The Game.
"When they were cut from the game launch plans earlier this year, I said that the Black Guard and the Knight would be part of WAR only when they were great and deserved their place alongside all of WAR’s other compelling classes."
"I also said that we would not charge any additional fees for this new content or put it in a separate expansion pack; that’s not how we operate. We’ve kept to that plan and with the introduction of these two classes, Mythic shows that once again we are happy to keep giving players more value for their subscription dollars than any other MMORPG developer."
New classes? For free? Sure, the classes were set to be in the original game, but we're pretty ok with this.
As per usual, the NPD Group kept its giant, cyclopian eye glued to videogame sales for the month of September*. However, as per never before, the Group also decided to compile its weekly retail PC game sales into a colossal monthly communion, full of surprises and intrigue.
Hot Wheels: Beat That set the standard for September, issuing forth a challenge to all other games. 17 games did, in fact, beat that, with at least two unquestionably better games also beating it, but in reverse.
Spore and Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning took top honors, selling 406,000 and 274,000 units respectively. NPD, sadly, did not divulge digits for any more of the 20 games listed.
It should also be noted that NPD only covers retail sales, so any sales generated by Steam, Direct 2 Drive, or other such outlets do not count.
PC Game Sales (September)
1. Spore / EA Maxis / $50 (Average) 2. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning / EA Mythic / $49 (Average) 3. The Sims 2 Apartment Life Expansion Pack / EA Maxis / $30 (Average) 4. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Collector's Edition / EA Mythic / $80 (Average) 5. Spore Galactic Edition / EA Maxis / $79 (Average) 6. World Of Warcraft: Battle Chest / Blizzard / $37 (Average) 7. Crysis Warhead / Crytek (Publisher: EA) / $29 (Average) 8. The Sims 2 Double Deluxe / EA Maxis / $30 (Average) 9. World Of Warcraft / Blizzard / $20 (Average) 10. Spore Creature Creator / EA Maxis / $10 (Average) 11. World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade / Blizzard / $28 (Average) 12. Civilization IV: Colonization / Firaxis / $29 (Average) 13. Warcraft III Battle Chest / Blizzard / $39 (Average) 14. Civilization IV / Firaxis / $27 (Average) 15. The Sims 2 IKEA Home Stuff Expansion / EA Maxis / $20 (Average) 16. Diablo Battle Chest / Blizzard / $39 (Average) 17. StarCraft Battle Chest / Blizzard / $20 (Average) 18. Hot Wheels: Beat That / Activision / $15 (Average) 19. Crysis / Crytek (Publisher: EA) / $38 (Average) 20. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky / GSC Game World / $39 (Average)
Jump past the break for overall software sales, with games included. (Exciting preview: Apple fails.)
Well, that was quick. Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz, Blizzard COO Paul Sams claimed that Warhammer Online was no 18-hour raid boss. The battle's over, and the spoils of waaaagh clutter Blizzard's side of the field.
"The good news is that we've seen a significant number of people, well over half, that cited Warhammer as their reason for leaving - they've already returned," Sams said over the deafening roars of BlizzCon.
But, regardless of whether the game's a direct competitor or merely Led Zep to Blizzard's Beatles, Sams handed out Warhammer Online's participation ribbon with an air of humility -- hedging his bets on the MMO's future success.
"I think Warhammer is best positioned to succeed out of the various products that have come out thus far since World of Warcraft has come out. It seems to be a good game, certainly a great company, Mythic and Mark [Jacobs] over there and his team, they're very, very talented," he explained.
"But I think without EA they would have struggled as well, because EA fortunately for them has a lot of money and so they were able to put forward a lot of marketing dollars and were able to support the huge infrastructure that they require for these kinds of games. It's a tough road and as I said, if we had not had the benefits of the trust of our customers because of the years of delivering for them, I think that we could have been in trouble a few times. There have been big challenges and mistakes that we've made and we've been fortunate enough to get by them."
So MPC readers, who's pocketing your subscription money at the end of each month? WoW or WAR?
Quality may not always happily skip hand-in-hand with sales (See: Psychonauts, and then go buy it, please), but when it does, we wear unnaturally large smiles, ecstatic that there's justice in this cold, depressing world. You can imagine, then, that our pearly whites are on the verge of breaking free from our unhinged jaws thanks to Mythic's announcement that Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning has lured 750,000 players into its overtly war-packed world.
"Thanks to our players, the war between the Realms continues to escalate at an incredible pace," said Mythic co-founder and general manager Mark Jacobs.
And he's not just spouting nonsense from his PR-approved book of hyperbole either; Warhammer's 750k sprint has topped those of both World of Warcraft and Age of Conan, who reached similar numbers within three months and two months, respectively.
But don't start ordering Waaaagh Kool-Aid as a refreshment for WoW's funeral just yet. It should be noted that boxed copies of Warhammer Online came with a free one month voucher, cancelling out the game's subscription fee for a limited time. With the game's money vacuum soon to be fully operational, will players stick around for another month?
We sure hope so. Warhammer seems genuinely different from other MMOs, and it'd be a shame to see it sink. Also, gaming just wouldn't be fun anymore if we couldn't constantly tell our friends "It's 'hammer time," before darting off for a play session.