Peace Time: Warhammer Online Closes Its Doors

By Graham Smith on December 20th, 2013 at 8:00 am.

A Warhammer funeral.

Nathan reported back in September on coming demise of Warhammer Online. Now it’s happened. Due to the end of EA’s licensing agreement with Games Workshop, as of Wedneday 18th Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning has put the hammer down for good.

Originally launched in September of 2008, Warhammer Online set itself apart from other MMOs of the time by focusing on group PvP. It didn’t exactly make sense that Warhammer’s angry races would spend their time fishing and crafting, after all.

Five years obviously isn’t a particularly long time for a game to exist, but it’s better than a lot of other modern MMOs have managed. The game found an audience, and while it was never as large as World of Warcraft, I can’t help but wonder how long it would have continued if not for the end of a contract.

When the shut down was announced back in September, the official dev blog hosted some rememberances of the game. More eulogies are being written now. If you want to feel sad at your desk about a fantasy universe blinking out of existence, it’s worth taking a look at this post by developer Josh Drescher:

If you look around the industry today at pretty much any major MMO being developed in the Western market, you will find WAR there. Sometimes, it will be in the games themselves where concepts and ideas that first showed up in WAR have been “gently borrowed”. Mostly, however, it’s in the people making those games. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a major MMORPG team whose leadership doesn’t feature someone who cut their teeth as a developer on WAR. In some cases, HUGE chunks of the WAR team simply set up shop in a new project – old comrades in a new home.

That hasn’t happened by accident. We didn’t miraculously recruit a team of people who were already the Best There Is At What They Do. The WAR project helped MAKE them that. It gave people an opportunity to learn and struggle and grow. Oddly enough, I suspect that – had WAR been a run-away success – a lot of those people WOULDN’T have become the industry leaders they are today. It’s hard to toughen up and get stronger in a comfortable environment. It’s even harder to grow if you never leave the nest.

When those people walked away from Mythic, regardless of why, many found an industry that respected their experience, their talent and their hard work. More importantly, they found an industry that WANTED that experience and talent and hard work for new projects.

Which sounds rather hopeful, and proves true. The Elder Scrolls Online’s lead PvP designer is Brian Wheeler, who once worked on WAR, and Bethesda’s hopeful MMO carries with it many of the same ideas about three-way group PvP combat.

Warhammer Online happened to launch around the same time as this site, so the early days of RPS were filled with much excitable chatter about the game. It’s almost like a lot of the people who write RPS grew up painting skaven to become adults who paint skaven. Check out this post for Jim, John, Alec and Kieron’s thoughts of the game in its prime. Man!

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37 Comments »

  1. GeminiathXL says:

    R.I.P. May you one day reincarnate as a successfull MMO once again.

  2. Erinduck says:

    “The game found an audience, and while it was never as large as World of Warcraft, I can’t help but wonder how long it would have continued if not for the end of a contract.”

    No, it wouldn’t. The Warhammer Online community was almost non-existent a year after launch and it kept declining from then on. When they started desperately shutting down/merging servers and the game was still a complete ghost town everyone saw the writing on the wall. The unfortunate truth of a game with a focus almost entirely on PvP is that you NEED players to sustain it, and player retention in the game was absolutely awful.

  3. Kurskovole says:

    It was a neat MMO in my opinion, but it had a horrible release in my area with the launcher/patcher being broken and needing a fix that was difficult to find on their website.

    I was baffled that WoW was able to do so much better than it, I will never understand how a focus on fighting mindless mobs can trump PvP.

    • Erinduck says:

      Because PvP MMOs almost immediately fall into the trap of “whoever has been playing longest is the only group that will be able to get any enjoyment out of the game. This happened with Darkfall, it happened with Warhammer Online, and it happens with EVE Online too. As a genre, they are incredibly top-heavy, but WoW succeeds because you can play at any skill level and still enjoy yourself.

      • davemaster says:

        WoW succeeds because it caters to everyone. It doesn’t care about purity of “lore” or dignity. You can ride a harley through a jungle being chased by a T-Rex on your way to talk to a talking panda in a tutu. That’s not genius, it’s not even trying. It’s pumping money into catering to everyone at the cost of quality. It’s sparkles and fluff.

  4. Gap Gen says:

    Washammer.

  5. SominiTheCommenter says:

    WARFACE! Wait…

  6. Maxheadroom says:

    Of all the post-WoW MMOs this one I really enjoyed.
    Played it for about 4 months on launch and only quit because all the WoW buddies I moved over with gradually migrated back there and I was left with no one to play with.

    Still, sad to see it go though.

  7. Chris says:

    It was just a WoW clone that wasn’t as good as WoW.

    A WoW clone that lacks wow. Now that’s a sad ironic pun.

    • Bull0 says:

      Nah. Launched with a ton of features that made it unique/set it apart, WoW quietly thieved them and did them better. It’s difficult beating the guy with the most money at his own game.

      • GeminiathXL says:

        I remember WAR incorporating the “join the WAR from anywhere in the world”, and then WoW putting that in after a little while as well. No more running to the BG’s themselves.

    • Oasx says:

      It was no more a WOW clone, than WOW was an Everquest clone.

    • davemaster says:

      Well WOW wouldn’t exist without Warhammer, and Warhammer Online was a better game.

  8. Commissar Choy says:

    I enjoyed WAR immensely :c but I can’t say I’m surprised to see it go; the questing was fairly uninteresting and the cities/dungeons were confusing as all hell. But a great Public Event system, physical PvP where positioning was semi-important, making the Orks fun and featuring Tzeentch (<3) has earned WAR a place in my heart.

    • Kurskovole says:

      Hehe, the RP servers were pretty much just people playing Orks. Good fun.

    • neolith says:

      Waaagh!

      WAR had many, many flaws and saw a lot of patches that are hard to describe without swearing, but boy did I have fun in its early days playing my chosen in PvP battlegrounds.
      God times, really good times. :)

    • Koozer says:

      WAR had incredibly strong design, both in the world and the classes. The PvP ranking and levelling system was nice, and the battgrounds- sorry, warfronts, were great designs that put WoW to shame even today. Very sad to see it go. I say this as someone who played it for a couple of months before getting bored of the parts most similar to WoW.

  9. Zelos says:

    I might be wrong, but as far as I know WAR was the first MMO with a fully realized public quest system, that would later go on to be core features basically every theme-park MMO since.

    Despite its failure, it’s had a gigantic impact on the MMO scene. It was a brilliant game, if a bit poorly executed. Had they focused more on PvE and launched the game in a slightly better state it might be been a huge success.

    • Moraven says:

      I believe so. GW2 did it quite a bit. Pandas in WoW had light versions of it, but public quests are looking to be a big part in the next expansion as a part of dynamic world content.

    • GettCouped says:

      Ultima Online had public quests, but not the refined shared loot system that WAR had.
      The things about public quests, there was also a conventional quest system where you could power farm through. Furthermore, there was no incentive to come back and do PQs, so it eventually became barren content.

      I loved WAR. It was the best PvP/RvR experience I have ever had. Which makes it so sad that the terrible release doomed the game from the beginning.

      EA was having that financial issue during the recession and forced the release so they could cash in on boxed sales. Tons of money was made on WAR, but a chance at something great was lost in the process.

  10. Tei says:

    I liked the public quest, and I think it was a good addition to the genre. I liked the open pvp, but I wonder if it would be better with 3 factions, instead of the subretarded “evil vs good” that we played. I like the starting areas, playing as a goblins had a lot of hilarity. I think the game scored success in many areas. It was not DAOC2, but nothing is, it was not WoW, but nothing is.

  11. Aikei says:

    I also played WAR when it was released and it was pretty fun… But it lagged pretty bad on my PC at that time, so I had to switch to WOW. I wanted to be back to WAR several times, but never did. It’s a sad day, I liked that game, anyway.

    BTW, I love how RPS creates a unique avatar for everyone :D

    • DatonKallandor says:

      It had downright insane hardware requirements considering just how bad the game looked. It’s spell effects, which were the thing that caused the most slowdown (a huge problem when your focus is PvP where those effects will vomit out of 20 players at the same time) were basic sprites not particles. Yet somehow they managed to make it run not just badly but atrociously.

      Old Republic has the same problem, and it’s really something that you simply cannot do in an MMO. It has to run well for everyone. It has to look prettier than what it requires in terms of hardware, not the other way around. That more than anything else is why WoW and GW2 are so much more successful than others.

  12. Tayh says:

    R.I.P. WAR Online.
    R.I.P. Nipple Man: http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z280/The_Tayh/WAR/nipple-man.jpg
    I’ve never had as much fun in PVP as I had in WAR.

  13. bill says:

    We didn’t go with ‘WAR is over…’??

  14. briktal says:

    “Five years obviously isn’t a particularly long time for a game to exist, but it’s better than a lot of other modern MMOs have managed.”

    There really haven’t been all that many MMOs that have shut down, at least if you look at AAA-ish games. If you look at games launched in the last 10 years, you basically have City of Heroes, Shadowbane, Auto Assault, The Matrix Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Tabula Rasa and now Warhammer Online. And apart from AA and Tabula Rasa, I believe TMO had the shortest run at just under 5 years.

  15. HAdr55 says:

    just before I looked at the check for $8124, I have faith that…my… mom in-law was trully bringing in money in their spare time from there pretty old laptop.. there friend brother haz done this less than eleven months and by now paid for the depts on there home and purchased a great new McLaren F1. visit homepage http://Buzz95.com

  16. Oasx says:

    One of my favourite things about it, was that each race has their own zones, you could play the entire game PvE as each race, and have unique quests each time, and when i played earlier this year there were still active Realm PvP going on.
    I think the main problem was that Realm PvP had problems where it was easier to take castles in another zone, than stay and defend them, so there was almost never any real PvP going on. And during the last 8 levels, you had to PvP in the last tier, but that was filled with players who were maxed, and didn’t want anyone lower level to tag along.

  17. JohnnyPanzer says:

    I’m gonna miss it. In my opinion, it had more balls than any other MMO out there barring EVE.

    Pretty much every single new concept that’s somehow revitalized the MMO genre the last couple of years came from WO. Public Quests, the Log Book, Sieges, RvR lakes, PvP from level one, the list goes on. It all came from this game.

    I had such a blast in the sieges it’s almost silly. Defending as a black orc tank was awesome, thanks to the simple fact that they had player collision. Being able to stop someone in their tracks by simply standing in their way opened up soooooo many new tactics during sieges and battles, I can’t believe no other MMO has picked it up (as far as I know).

    The game was a huge innovator, but it suffered from poor execution. Sad…

    • Viceroy Choy says:

      Ahh! Finding secrets for the Logbook and getting unique items/xp for it was so awesome, made exploration actually rewarding!

  18. aircool says:

    WAR captured the spirit of The Old World perfectly.

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