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Peace Time: Warhammer Online Closes Its Doors

Put the hammer down

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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