Thursday, August 21, 2008

Badly Organized Poll: 9 out of 10 WoW players never heard of WAR

I continue to be a pretty active WoW player despite a lot of the burnout I’ve experienced over the past year. One question I keep asking other players the last couple of weeks is: Do you plan to play Warhammer?

The far majority of players I have queried have never even heard of Warhammer, let alone have an opinion about whether or not they would play it. In fact, upon learning that it’s another game, the response always has an underlying tone of “I am playing WoW, why would I play something else?” And it’s not because the people I am asking are PvE raiders – I play on a PvP server, I am in a PvP guild, and many of the people I have asked have been Arena players.

Among bloggers, the Warhammer topic has been covered at length, so it came as a surprise to me that so few current WoW players seem to be “in the know” about the game. Almost two weeks ago, Tobold asked us to guess how many copies WAR will sell. The answers ranged from a few hundred thousand to millions, but almost universally every single guesstimate mentioned the WoW subscription numbers. In fact, the most common formulas included some type of logic that Warhammer would cannibalize most of their subscriptions from Warcraft.

However, in light of the ignorance about Warhammer that seems to exist in the Warcraft community, I have to wonder if the blogging community isn’t just making the mistake of thinking that everyone else is just like them. The whole thought reminded me of an article Cameron Sorden wrote called When will players leave WoW? in which he said:

“Your first MMOG is kind of like your first love. […] I'm not convinced that any game will persuade first time MMOG players who enjoy WoW to leave it. Those people who are hunting for new games, who are tired of the old, who want something new... they tend to be people who already have hopped games once or more. When players find a game they like, a game that really grabs them, a game that defines the MMO genre in their minds and lays out what an MMOG should be for them, it's going to take either a serious blow to their game (Blizzard announces that they're done making expansions) or a serious improvement to the game style (on the EverQuest --> WoW level) to lure them away.” (Cameron Sorden writing for Massively)

So if current WoW players are not at the top of the line to buy Warhammer, then who is?
  • People who “hopped games once or more”
  • Ex-WoW players who have already quit (or are ready to quit)
  • Games Workshop fans
  • Existing Mythic fans who played RvR in DAoC
  • Friends of anyone who fits into any of the above
Now – I still think the above is a big group of people, particularly the “ex-WoW players who have already quit” group. I’m not privy to internal Blizzard numbers, but I highly suspect that the two million US subscribers playing WoW today are NOT the same two million US subscribers they had two years ago. I think a lot of people have left WoW, but subscriber numbers have held steady with new people coming in and old players buying second or third accounts.

If you are a Warhammer fan, please don’t take this as an attack on the Holy Temple. I mention this only from the perspective that we should expect modest success early on, possibly followed by a lot more players as word-of-mouth grows. WoW is, for what it’s worth, a cultural phenomenon and it’s unfair to hold WAR to the same measuring stick.

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