Warhammer Online Releases Big/Small Numbers

Embedded in EA’s quarterly report this afternoon:

Warhammer® Online: Age of Reckoning®, an MMO from EA’s Mythic Entertainment studio, ended the quarter with over 300K paying subscribers in North America and Europe.

The good news is that 300,000 is not a shabby subscriber level to be at — probably well ahead of such competitors as Age of Conan and City of Heroes.

The bad news is that they needed 500,000.

For the number two spot, Jacobs reasoned that “Warhammer” would need at least a half-million subscribers, which he guessed was close to what “Final Fantasy” and “EverQuest 2” have now. “Let’s just say north of half a million would mean we’re successful. Now how a far north? I wouldn’t mind being a little bit cold.”

Well, given the drop from 750K to 300K, I suspect there have been some particularly arctic moments. And given the general state of the economy – and of Electronic Arts –  things will only get chillier.

The industry needs a hit from a company not named Blizzard, please.


40 Responses to Warhammer Online Releases Big/Small Numbers

  1. Iconic says:

    If they can maintain 300k, they’ll easily make all their money back and then more.

    I’m sure there’s a lot of disappointment at EA, but ultimately they’re not losing anything on WAR unless those numbers continue to drop.

  2. Mist says:

    I’m not surprised by those numbers. They’re really not that bad for 4.5 months in sonsidering the lack of advertising EA has put behind WAR.

  3. Chas says:

    I’m kinda puzzled by their estimages of numbers (EQ2 at over 500,000? Seriously? MMOGchart had them at PEAKING at 350,000 and estimates things at closer to 200,000. City of Heroes has a modest 140,000+.

    Granted, CoH was developed on a much smaller budget compared to Warhammer, from everything I’ve heard, so they’d NEED a bigger subscriber base to pay things off.

  4. Goedel says:

    Sure, 300k is good, but they started with 750k and LOST 450k! Of course, no one should be surprised they lost the majority of their initial subscribers.
    First, they released prematurely while the game was filled with performance issues and basic quality-of-life bugs. Then, they decided they could adopt a relaxed patching schedule like they were fucking Blizzard with over 10 million invested players. I’ve watched my server lose more and players as they get tired of waiting for Mythic to fix the damn game up.

  5. Apache says:

    I don’t think EQ2 is that high. Is it? Is he counting station passes?

  6. Queso says:

    Cough** Eve Online has more. Cough**

  7. Jiffy says:

    I’m looking at Bioware to release an A+ quality mmo (SW:ToR), but since they’re unproven in that area, I’ll remain wary until the beta tests start.

  8. Loredena says:

    I don’t know how many subscribers in total EQ2 has, but it would seem to be gaining them, surprisingly. My guild has doubled in the last few months, with a combination of both brand new to MMOs players, and the usual done w/WoW till the next expansion ones.

  9. jinstevens says:

    @Jiffy – Bioware = EA = Mythic, just FYI

    Honestly, I’m surprised Warhammer got 300k subscribers. Really. I was skeptical that there was enough room for yet another sword+spells+elf type MMO in this market. I guess people never get tired of dragons or chicks in chain mail bikinis.

    As for MMO hits, I think Cryptic has a chance with both Champions Online and Star Trek Online. Champions (“COH v2.0”) will probably release in late 2009. Star Trek Online – who knows?

  10. Grimjakk says:

    Honestly, that retention rate isn’t too shabby, considering the timing.
    I’m thinking a lot of those initial players were only killing time until the launch of WotLK. The drifting swarms of MMO tourists are going to have to be worked into any launch plan these days.

    hopefully we’ll see some (at least) moderate expansion on those numbers next quarter.

    EA does need to step up to the plate with marketting.

  11. HoHum says:

    EA slacking with the advertising of the game was really poor. Can you imagine how many more players they could of drawn in by running with some clips of their cinematic trailer on national tv. Thats an IWIN button there.

    300K isn’t too bad for only 4.5 mths.

  12. ubvman says:

    300K in 4.5 months, is not too bad IF you only sold 400k boxes, as it is – they sold 1.2 Million. 300K (and on a downward trend) is disastrous given the development costs of the game.

    With such a lousy retention rate, advertising won’t help WAR. Remember, what WAR had at release – with over 800K+ players, these being more knowledgeable and experienced MMO players; they abandoned the game in droves. With more advertising – you might get a big boost in box sales, BUT your retention rate turning trials into payers will be abysmal. This is NOT the type of game that will appeal to the masses you bring in with mass market advertising.

    More advertisements will not bring in the type of players that Mythic needs to turn into payers.

  13. Flimgoblin says:

    There is the ‘one month tourist’ effect from WoW to take into account unfortunately – your box sales will be massively boosted by bored WoW players who, unless you can somehow convince them in the first month that you’re way better…

    Expecially when a month after release their old character has new toys to play with 😉

    WAR’s good fun (imo) and with 300k they’ll be around for a while I’d hope.

  14. Jeff says:

    What did they initially sell, 1.2 million?

    You knew the ship was sinking when the first report was 750k “registered players.”

    Now they are left with 300k. 1.2 million people buy your game and a handful of months later, all that’s left is Survivor: Warhammer Fanboy Island. I would think they could still make money over time if they can stay in the 150k-300k range.

    I could go on and on about this game. The PvE was fun for the first 10 levels. Then it just got to be the same thing over and over with no low level dungeons to spice things up. The RvR was fun until you realized the large imbalances in the classes. I stayed for the first of the two new classes. I wanted this game to succeed. It was just a hollow broken experience at the end.

    The thing is, you WANT to root for Mythic. I’ve met some former Mythic employees back when they worked for Mythic, and they are some of the NICEST devs you will ever meet. Really cool people. I don’t know what went wrong here, but if I had to guess, it has a lot to do with “burning the heretics”. If you get that caught up in your Vision that anyone that disagrees becomes a heretic, you may have a galactic sized problem that a galaxy far far away needs to bail your parent company out of.

    The verdict: Please, do not release your game until it is truly done and polished. We had a lot of die hard Warhammer people in our guild, people that wanted to love this game. You had us at hello. Yet somehow the majority of the guild moved on, feeling immensely disapointed.

  15. Jiffy says:

    @jinstevens: Ah nuts. Man, what doesn’t EA have these days? :/
    Well, hopefully Bioware is able to put out something good, I’d hate to have another SWG, I was looking forward to playing something not-fantasy for a while.

  16. Jeff says:

    They SOLD 1.2 million boxes. 1.2 MILLION.

    Now I can’t speak intelligently on the amount of advertising EA spent, as I simply do not know. But when 1.2 MILLION people buy your game and a majority of those say “no thanks” your problem is not the advertising.

  17. EpicSquirt says:

    I am happy to see it going this way. When Warhammer launched I’ve said many times that it isn’t in any better shape than Tabula Rasa or Age of Conan were when they’ve launched: Warhammer had the same severity of bugs, same lack of balance and it was totally broken from mid range levels to the end. Many disagreed with me, but in my opinion players forgive that shitty UI Warhammer had or that odd look of those High Elves easier than game breaking behaviour which the 3 mentioned games all had.

    What astonished me most was that they’ve braught so many problems from DAoC into Warhammer: sloppy client (got slower and slower over time, decreasing FPS, memory leaks), broken line of sight, lag ghosts, defunct collision detection (DAoC had none), defunct range determination, etc.

    Marc Jacobs got so cocky when someone from Blizzard said that 50% of the players who left WoW for other games are back within a month and now their own numbers attest it. In my opinion EA should appoint a different Product Director for the game, it helped Age of Conan. The person who was responsible for sticking with GOA as the European provider for the game should be replaced too.

    There are some other games coming out with Games Workshops’ IP and those will take some players away from Warhammer Online.

    Despite of Mark Jacobs promise to put a lot of money into Warhammer after release to make it better, I don’t see Warhammer Online recovering.

    I guess Blizzard will score big with more of the same (Diablo 3, Starcraft 2).

    I’m interested in how Arena.net will break with current Guild Wars mechanics to make Guild Wars 2 more interesting, it seems that the people running Arena.net have designed the original Diablo and Starcraft anyway.

  18. Loredena says:

    I’m curious about one thing with the boxes sold versus the first round of registered users, and that is how much of it is people like me…. My husband and I both bought boxes because we were curious about the game, and a lot of the bloggers we read were getting ready to try it out — but while he fiddled around with it in beta, I never did. We were having too much fun in EQ2 just then, and it too had a new expansion coming out. We still have those unopened boxes….

  19. Talance says:

    jinstevens :@Jiffy – Bioware = EA = Mythic, just FYI
    As for MMO hits, I think Cryptic has a chance with both Champions Online and Star Trek Online. Champions (”COH v2.0″) will probably release in late 2009. Star Trek Online – who knows?

    I think Champions is still slated for a Q2 release. That might well get pushed back, but they haven’t announced it yet. As for Star Trek Online, it’s got a pretty hard date of May/June to coincide with (and ride the popularity of) the new movie. My guess is that it’s released, whether it’s 100% ready or not.

    I do think these are probably the only ones that have a good chance of succeeding this year. Maybe DCUO if it can generate enough buzz. I seriously doubt Darkfall is gonna make it. Then again, who would’ve imagined anyone would still be playing Horizons by now? Go figure.

  20. […] For the number two spot, Jacobs reasoned that “Warhammer” would need at least a half-million subscribers, which he guessed was close to what “Final Fantasy” and “EverQuest 2” have now. “Let’s just say north of half a million would mean we’re successful. Now how a far north? I wouldn’t mind being a little bit cold.” MTV Multiplayer

  21. Sneaky says:

    The 1,2mil sold number does not even take buddy-keys into account – so thre might have been quite a few people who tried the game without ever buying the box, too.

  22. Murgle says:

    Bring on WoW 2.0 already (or whatever their next gen is they’ve mentioned, WoSC?), I’ve given up on every other company out there.

    And that’s from someone who stopped playing WoW a year ago.

  23. Tmon says:

    I suspect the next quarter will be worse when the 2 and 3 month subs that expired in January are taken off the books.

  24. Mordiceius says:

    Murgle, they said the new MMO they’re making is a completely new IP.

  25. […] the big (or should I say little) news within the blogosphere today is how Warhammer is currently sitting around 300k subs (down from the 750k peak). […]

  26. cyberwiz says:

    300k is a great number, and I am pretty sure they wont drop any more, my RL friends that still play talk to me alot and for the most part the game is improving rapidly on all fronts.
    RVR is getting better, it is less about instanced PVP and alot more about open RVR now, bugs get fixed, new classes added, etc, etc.
    300k means the second biggest premium title in the West, surpassing EVE Online ( not by much ). Even tho MJ thought that EQ2 had around 400-500k subs ( that is waaay off ), and he is correct that Final Fantasy got 400k +, but that is not in the West, afaik.

  27. ixobelle says:


  28. Count Nerfedalot says:

    Mr. Jacobs pretty much forecast his own doom. He stated that $100 Million was necessary to compete, then proposed the metric for measuring real success (continuing to add servers after 6 weeks).

    Well, Mythic cut corners, spent less than $100 Million, and released their game unfinished. Mythic has always prided themselves, bragged even, about releasing games on the cheap. And the results have consistently been non-winners. Why on earth is anyone surprised that this round is not any different?

    Scott’s closing sentence will not come about until one of two things happens. Either someone puts together a good team with a good vision for a good MMO AND spends that $100 Million to actually finish and polish it BEFORE releasing it. Or someone puts together a good team with a good vision for a good MMO-lite core game and spends maybe only $50 Million to actually finish and polish it before releasing it. By MMO-lite I mean something with narrower focus and thus less overall content requirements than the currently “normal” 10-24 classes, 2-10 sides and/or races and their associated starting areas, races, capital cities, etc. But until one of those two things happens, the industry will continue to release flops or, at best, near misses.

    But nobody in the industry other than Blizzard seems willing to actually, you know, finish their damn game before releasing it.

  29. Baktru says:

    Not that WoW was actually finished when it was released… But it was pretty well polished.

    As for Warhammer… What I like MOST about it is still the likeness to the Warhammer Fantasy figurines. Which is not really enough to keep it fun. It’s one of the 4 MMO’s I have a subscription to, and it’s the one I play least (After LotRO, EvE and AoC).

    I still have my hopes up for the Bioware Star Wars thing though… It’s Bioware. They are way high up in my books…

  30. Rapewaffle says:

    At 300,000 they *are* number two. They’re ahead of everything except WoW (derp), Dofus and FFXI, neither of which really counts.

    I’ve been playing it since it came out. Best PvP in a MMOG so far, best balance, solid if uninspired PvE content, poor character customisation. Overall I’d say it’s the best mmog out there, and suggesting that it’s failing by having twice as many players as City of Heroes is just silly.

    I think a lot of people got their hopes up that this game would be Jesus, and when they instead got a decent PvP MMOG they felt betrayed. I OTOH was very dubious about it, and got to be pleasantly surprised.

    The classes aren’t significantly unbalanced. I’ve consistently managed to be near the top of the renown ranking in scenarios regardless of what class I play – except Engineer. So I figured Engineer was underpowered.

    Then the other day we met an Engineer who said “find a squishy target in a large group, fire off your AOE/DOTs, then hit unshakeable focus and spam rifle shot. You live and learn.

  31. EpicSquirt says:

    Yes, balance is when you meet 8+ Bright Wizards in a scenario. And balance is when you meet a single Marauder topping their damage.

    Balance is when as a melee class you can totally forget it to play, because people will get out of your body block or warp away or be out of range while you’re just behind them.

    Balance is when you get rooted 10 times in a row, because someone forgot to apply immunity to caster roots.

    You must be living on the moon. Many people felt indeed betrayed for above reasons, as cynical as it sounds: many are adults who can not be arsed with such bullshit anymore, they’ll rather spend the time with something else.

    Mythic and balanced classes, this is really fantastic, just wait for the arrival of a pre-nerf DAoC-Warlock in Warhammer.

  32. Rapewaffle says:

    I play as melee classes. One of the best things about the game is how hard it is to run away once you’re engaged in combat; every class has a way to slow the enemy and stop them from getting out of range.

    I don’t know what you mean about 8+ BWs. Are you saying that BWs are too weak because Marauders can do better than them? Shouldn’t how you play have more of an impact on your effectiveness than your class?

    I’ve never been rooted 10 times in a row. Most classes have a root-breaker on a 60 second timer, so you have to decide carefully whether it’s necessary to break out now or save the ability for when it’s really critical 15 seconds down the line.

    I reiterate: It’s a very well balanced game. The balance between classes isn’t perfect, but I’ve yet to find a class that either I, or the person I play with, cannot play effectively.

  33. EpicSquirt says:

    I know what a snare is, I also know what it is when you try to hit your enemy who is right in front of you to apply that snare and to read “target out of range”. That is Warhammer for me.

    No, I am not saying that BWs are too weak, I am saying they’re not balanced, they’re too strong in comparison to other classes or one wouldn’t see 8 of them in a scenario all day long.

    So you started to play scenarios after you’ve gotten your root breaker? What level is that again?

    I didn’t expect Jesus, but I expected simple stuff to work. It’s one thing to promise proper crowd control and an another one to get chain rooted by instant AoE roots and damaged while the root doesn’t break. It’s one thing to promise proper crowd control and an another one to get chain knocked off to god knows where. Maybe it’s fixed by now, but the people who didn’t have the patience to wait for the fixes aren’t there anymore.

    If you define balance by saying that no class in Warhammer is useless, I’ll have to agree, but that’s not how I define balance.

    I don’t see any balance when the game allows to pull enemies through concrete walls, have NPC entities like turrets and pets interrupt you without line of sight and when the game resolves about game breaking abilities and DoTs and HoTs.

    “Best PvP” and “best balance”, “smoothest MMO launch”, soon “best forums of any MMOG”: MJ’s bingo bullshit.

    Scenarios are one thing and even among scenarios there is no balance as players prefer to play the one with highest reward only, city sieges are still completely broken.

    No, thanks.

  34. Rapewaffle says:

    >“target out of range”.

    That was fixed pretty early.

    >they’re too strong in comparison to other classes or one wouldn’t see 8 of them in a scenario all day long.

    They were overpowered to start with, that’s been patched since.

    >What level is that again?

    A few levels after you get root, it’s not a big deal. Both sides have it, and you can still fight for the 10 seconds it takes to wear off.

    >I didn’t expect Jesus, but I expected simple stuff to work.

    In a MMOG? At launch? I think Jesus is more likely.

    What matters is that they fixed it promptly, and they focused their dev time on the issues that had the biggest impact on gameplay.

    I define balance as your ranking being determined by how you play and not what you play. It’s got that.

    DoTs & HoTs ‘game breaking’? Please. Any attack is game breaking if it does excessive damage, but DoTs and HoTs compared to their instant equivalent have the effect of slowing combat down and giving the players more time to react, the game becomes more about strategy and less about button mashing. That’s not something you want to hold up as an example of how badly designed the game is.

    So you’re complaining about things that have already been fixed, things that are par for the course in the MMOG industry (sadly) and things that are based on a lack of understanding of how the game works (scenarios with the ‘highest reward only’? What?)

    Did the game sleep with your sister or something?

  35. EpicSquirt says:

    Reading comprehension?

    I wrote that PvP in Warhammer resolves about game breaking abilities (like knock offs) [b]and[/b] DoTs and HoTs (many of them castable on the run, freaking boring point & click instant DoT and HoT game). I didn’t say that DoTs and HoTs are game breaking, they’re in the game so that the inferior players who don’t want to learn how to position their characters for maximum effectiveness can still get something done in the game. DoTs and HoTs in Warhammer are a result of the whole “we don’t want interrupts, we want slow-downs”-idea, where in other games like in DaoC for example it was just fine to have a dedicated interrupter and someone trying to make the life of the interrupter a hard one.

    They didn’t fix it quickly, as I’ve quit after 2 months of playing and the issues have still been in. The line of sight issues mentioned are still in there and will prolly remain there until the end of time. Or maybe, maybe Mythic developers actually start learning to code instead of just using Gamebryo with all of its flaws.

    On the scenarios:

    1. What is the most played Tier 2 scenario?
    2. What is the most played Tier 3 scenario?
    3. What is the most played Tier 4 scenario?
    4. How often do the other scenarios get played in comparison?

    At some point after the players figured out what would yield most experience/renown they mostly played just those scenarios. It doesn’t need a Jesus to fully randomize the scenario selection, nor does it take a Jesus to make scenarios for random groups and team scenarios for guild groups (see Guild Wars), so that a bunch of level 36 randoms doesn’t get farmed by 2 guild groups of 40’ies all the time. Balance? Not! The game doesn’t provide an environment for it.

    I don’t care about on what’s on par with the MMOG industry, nor do I have a sister.

    Warhammer is so flawed in its design and the few things being somehow good didn’t get implemented properly. I’m speaking for myself here, but way over the majority of the players who bought the game had reasons not to play it after the first month or 3 months depending on what they’ve subscribed for originally.

    I never agreed that DAoC had the best RvR/PvP as claimed by many of the DAoC players, but most of the UK/Scandinavian hardcore & veteran PvP players left Warhammer.

    Would have the game have “best PvP” and “best balance”, I am sure they would have stayed.

    Anyway, I am out of the discussion, what is a chair for you might be a table for me, so no point arguing. I just don’t like bold statements and superlatives, especially not when someone burned a lot of money on IP and development of such a game with such a medicore result.

    I just want to add that I don’t want to advertise a different game instead, it’s the same mess like it was with Tabula Rasa and Age of Conan though.

  36. Rapewaffle says:

    Is your problem with HoTs & DoTs or with instant cast abilities? Because they aren’t the same thing.

    I’m still playing and I tell you they’ve fixed BWs and ‘out of range’ bugs. I don’t know how to put it more plainly than that.

    The most played scenarios in every tier are the Empire/Chaos ones, because when people are looking for PvP they tend to gravitate toward the Empire/Chaos zones and do open PvP there in between scenarios.

    Since they enabled joining the queues for all scenarios in a tier, everyone I know has just been doing ‘join all’ anyway; it’s just Nordenwatch et al that trigger more often.

    You don’t have to like the game but your criticisms of it just aren’t accurate.

  37. Mel says:

    This is disturbing news indeed. I’m a bored WoW player and was keeping a close watch on Warhammer Online as a viable alternative to WoW. On paper its game design and ideas greatly surpass anything WoW has to offer. Why are people quitting WAR? Is it just the bugs and performance issues or is there something fundamentally lacking in game design? I hope this game lives.

  38. Brewtality says:


    The end game is not impressing at all, they just rolled out 1.2 a week ago and it didnt have the affect they wanted.

    Range became blatently OP with the resist nerf.
    Healers got a buff to their shield abilities increasing survivability.
    Tanks whine about range being able to kill them now.
    Melee << see tanks but even more so.

    I am on EU eltharion and we just got merged with Dragonbck mountain server and it has never been more laggy.

    All in all I am about to leave to I had almost made it to renown rank 80 which is the highest rank achieveable in the game, but I feel like its not worth it anymore.

    Its like they are slowing down the end game to make more by making it harder to get past the invader stage.

  39. gfunk says:

    I have to admit, at first play, you think you’re in something great.
    Public quests, easily accessed PVP, it seemed to have everything.

    Then it hit me:
    1. The graphics aren’t great, at all.
    2. The PVE element isn’t satisfying.
    3. It’s not “smooth”. Play WoW PVP and then go to
    War. It’s jerky, and not nearly as smooth. I have
    a fast computer, too, with FIOS internet. Go
    4. It doesn’t merit my $15.00 of hard earned money
    when I’m already paying 12.00 at WoW, which I’ve
    thoroughly been enjoying for going on 5 years.

    People, stop bitching that people compare it to WoW. And no, it’s
    not sad that people do it. We’re talking about our money here.
    That’s like someone saying, “Honda fuc*ed it up for everyone. I
    think KIA should have their fair shake!!” And imagine if KIA sold
    their Honda equivalent for the same price? LOL. It’s true people,
    and you know it. Everyone would laugh at that remark, but yet noone
    sees it that way in the WAR vs. Warcraft argument.

    I’m glad Mythic tried. DAOC is what got me off Everquest, and I
    loved it. I was sad to see where Warhammer is. I honestly felt
    embarrassed for it. I give it one more year, at best. EA won’t let
    their money crap out in that game, especially with times being tough.

    Seriously fanboys, I HOPE I’m wrong. I’d like to see someone else
    succeed, and seduce me into spending my hard-earned duckets.

    Gfunk =)

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