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Preparing for WAR: Mark Jacobs on Launching Warhammer Online
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Preparing for WAR: Mark Jacobs on Launching Warhammer Online

September 22, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 6 Next

So in terms of WoW, which you identified as the "one very, very successful game," it does seem like you guys more than most have been fairly aggressive in terms of going after it, or staking out your claim to challenge it.

MJ: Two things on the subject. Number one, we're not looking to get more subscribers than WoW. We've been very clear from the day we announced that WoW is a great game with great numbers. It was an industry-shaping game. Those don't come around very often.

I'm amused when I hear other developers talk about WoW or even games in the standalone space, saying, "We can top these guys, that's easy." Yeah, that hasn't worked out for just about any of them. So I'm not going to sit here and say, "Well, with EA behind us, we're going to beat WoW." I don't say that, never said it, won't say that today.

On the other hand, we're not afraid of WoW. If you look at what we did back in 2001 with Dark Age, we were facing a similar situation, and it's even more amusing because of the Funcom connection. The big guy on the block was of course EverQuest. Ultima was of course doing very well, as was Asheron's -- not as well as Ultima and certainly EverQuest, but it was a competitive game. It had over 100,000 players.

People were saying to us, "How can you take on EverQuest? They've got Sony behind them. And Ultima has -- hah! -- EA behind them. And Turbine has Microsoft behind them. And you're independent, Mythic. You got nobody behind you except your creditors." But we said, "Okay, fine. We'll do the best game that we can." We had a hook -- that hook was [realm versus realm combat], and we staked our entire company on it. Obviously, we did quite well. We didn't beat them; we never said we would. But if you look at our numbers, we did really, really well.

It's the same thing we hope will happen with WoW versus WAR. We're not saying we're going to beat them, but we're not afraid of them. We have our own hook; that's RvR, and we're pushing it and we're pushing it, just as we're pushing other innovations in the game. Blizzard is number one; we don't mind being number two, especially if it's a competitive number two. I can't worry about that.

The other thing is, we have a choice. If I'm going to go in this space, I better go in hard. What's the point going into something as competitive as the fantasy genre with WoW in it unless you're prepared for a fight, unless you're prepared to take on number one at some level? You don't have to say you're better than it; you don't have to be better in everything. We just want to be competitive, do a great game, and leave it up to the player to see which they like more. Or both.

What do you mean when you say, "the Funcom connection"?

MJ: Oh -- well, if you go back to the summer of 2001, there were three new MMOs being shown. Number one was Star Wars: Galaxies, number two was Anarchy Online, and number three was us. During [E3], and even after the show, reviewers liked Anarchy better: "Oh, look at the pretty graphics. Look at that different gameplay. This looks like the game to beat." They saw our game and went, "Eh, RvR is pretty cool, but people are going to be scared about it. It's PvP, nobody's going to play it unless you're hardcore. The graphics are okay, but they're not as good as Anarchy's."

So what happens? Anarchy launches that summer, has a very troubled launch. They did huge numbers day one, went down way fast after that because of technical problems. You couldn't play their game for hours and hours and hours at a time. Truly, one of the roughest launches of any MMO. We come out in October to one of the smoothest launches, and do very well.

Who would have thought that seven years later, those same two companies would be releasing their first new [MMO] in seven years, and both were coming out in the exact same timeframe that their previous MMOs launched in 2001? They came out during the summer, we're coming out again in the fall. How bizarre is that?

What do you think about Age of Conan's prospects? They just had the news about their director leaving.

MJ: Same thing I said about them before. I don't want to see any developer -- well, almost any developer -- fail, especially in the MMO space. We need to expand the market. I wanted Age of Conan to do well because it's an M-rated game. I thought, "Fabulous. If they can do well, and expand the market to M-rated products, we can get even more users into this space." It was Conan, it could have been cool, I thought when it was announced.

The [Funcom] guys I've met, they're good guys. I didn't want them to fail. Their prospects? They have a tough road. Just like when Anarchy launched, they have their issues. What they absolutely deserve a lot of credit for, was that they turned that around -- certainly, Anarchy Online two years after launch was a much better game. They could certainly try to do the same with Conan.

The difference is that in 2001, there was less competition. We were competitive, but they were the only game in the sci-fi space until Galaxies came out. The difference now is they're in the fantasy space, and the fantasy space has Blizzard, and Blizzard is going to keep working on their product. They're not going to do [Wrath of the] Lich King and say, "Okay guys, we're done now." And EA didn't invest this much money into buying Mythic to say the same thing. We're not going to say, "Okay, we're done now. Let's do another MMO." No. We're committed to Warhammer. We're going to spend a lot of time and money making this game better and better and better.

So, just from those two games, it's a different space than it was back in 2001. Then, you also have the other games that are in development, some of which look like they might actually come out.

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 6 Next

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