Edit: As confirmed by GOA in the comments below, the prices for Warhammer ARE lowering in the UK as we printed last week, and their statements contradicting this and poo-pooing our reporting seem to have been somewhat erroneous. The lesson: RPS is always right, and handsome.
After astonishing amounts of confusion, GOA has finally made what appears to be the definitive statement regarding Open Beta access for those who pre-order Warhammer Online from the EA Store, and Direct2Drive.
It seems their plan was to not announce which of their partners would be offering customers OB access until the day the game becomes officially available for pre-order sale - this Thursday. However, EA and D2D, who it turns out will be amongst those partners, put the information up early. GOA then responded to this by, er, denying it. Now they have said they intended Open Beta to be available via certain pre-order outlets all along.
Despite GOA's Community Manager, MagnusK, rather unambiguously responding to the question, "Will EU SE pre-order customers get into WAR Open Beta?" with, "No," it seems the answer was rather, "Yes."
Today's response from IanC on the Warhammer Alliance forum:
"Pre-ordering a standard edition from most of our partners will not automatically give you Open Beta access as we have said previously. We will however be announcing a list of 'preferred partners' who will be selling the pre-order with Open Beta access. A full list of these partners will be included with the main announcement this week, I can confirm that both the EA Store and D2D are preferred partners and so those of you who have already placed an order need not worry that you won't get what you were offered."
So that's good news: EA Store and D2D customers will get their Open Beta. What's strange is that GOA didn't just say what was going on immediately, leading many players to try and cancel their pre-orders, or approach outlets for refunds.
What's most bemusing is that all of this has played out on at least two unofficial forums. The official EU site contains not a jot of this information, the only possible way of finding it being to scour through the "Fansite" section in the "Community" drop-down, and then spot the links two-thirds of the way down the page.
Meanwhile, our continued enquiries regarding the perhaps-maybe price drop have yet to receive a response, and the subject has so far been avoided on the various forums. As it stands, GOA has made this comment:
"As far as I know, these rumours origin from a blogger (forgot which) who called EA to ask about the UK prices, only to be told that they were lower than those announced in our Press Release last week.
As of now, the information we have at hand is those stated in named PR document. If there are any changes to the UK pricing, we will announce this. I’ve made enquiries about the truth behind these rumours, but I’m afraid I have nothing solid to go on so far."
We (the "a blogger" in question) never spoke to EA, but rather to GOA through their PR company, who returned us the figures. We find it very strange that GOA made the above statement, based in no fact, and that they have so far chosen not to reply to our requests for clarity.
Astonishingly, as I write this another press release arrives, announcing that yes, we were right, and the RRP for the boxed game has lowered.
"GET READY FOR THE WORLDWIDE WAAAGH! GOA, Orange’s games and Mythic Entertainment, an Electronic Arts Inc. studio, today announced that the highly-anticipated MMORPG, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, has gone gold and will open its servers on September 18, 2008 with an MSRP of £34.99."
This is a significant drop from 6th August's press release stating,
"The regular edition of the game will be priced at 49.99€ (£39.69) RRP with a 30-day subscription included."
No mention of monthly subs prices in that release, however.