Another week goes by and along comes another announcement about layoffs within the industry. The team who brought you Warhammer Online got a post-launch downsize, I have a special announcement regarding LOTRO, and there’s a new MMO-based off of the Disney movie Cars, plus a lot more. Don’t forget to comment! Any criticism is good criticism.
Warhammer 40,000 MMO Game
Did you know that there was a Warhammer 40K MMO game in development? Well, just to clarify the current Warhammer Online game is published by Electronic Arts and the Warhammer 40K game will be published by THQ.
Vigil Studios are the guys that are working on the game and in the official THQ quarterly financial report it mentioned that the game is still in production and to quote them…
Our other initiatives include our WWE online game being developed in Asia and our Warhammer 40,000 MMO game being developed at our Vigil Studio.
We think the popular Warhammer 40,000 Sci-fi universe is a great fit for PC MMO gaming.
Lord of the Rings Online
No news about Lord of the Rings Online this week, kids. I do have an announcement to make. I’m working on something that will bring a new side to MMO Weekly. Have you ever wanted to get into an MMO, but felt intimidated by the idea of a huge open world where you can go anywhere? Well, along with news I will be writing about my "adventures" in Lord of the Rings Online. What I mean is I’m starting a character in LOTRO from level one. Each week I will talk about the stuff I did in-game that week and if you play LOTRO I will mention what server I’m playing on if you want to tag along. Soon Mordor will feel the wrath of The Game Reviews community. /nerd off
This week was the first "Ask Cryptic" for their upcoming superhero MMO Champions Online. Cryptic fielded a few questions from the community and revealed some interesting bits about their game. In City of Heroes (Cryptics previous MMO) there weren’t many travel powers, powers that allowed you to travel to places within a zone faster, for natural origin superheroes (think Rorschach from The Watchmen comic). This time around, the developers are including an acrobatic talent that will allow you to run faster and leap further. If this game plays anything like the Xbox 360 game Crackdown I am sold from day one.
Last week was the biggest for Warhammer Online since their game shipped. This week we have good and bad news from EA and developer Mythic Entertainment. First, in EA’s third quarter fiscal year earnings report they mentioned that the game has exceeded the 300,000 paying subscriber mark; the figure includes players from both North America and Europe. Initially, Warhammer Online had around 500,000 subscribers when they launched, but the release of both the World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings Online expansions likely had a factor in the drop of subscribers for Mythic’s game.
The bad news is that Mythic is cutting half of its QA team and twenty-one customer service employees. While layoffs are never good, Mythic’s head honcho Mark Jacobs mentions that this is just a resizing of the team from a pre-launch staff to a post-launch. Mark Jacobs also blogged about the recent layoffs of his team and about Warhammer in general.
Mythic has always been committed to maintaining a high level of development and customer service to our MMO players. In anticipation of rumors regarding staff reductions here at Mythic today, this seems like a good time to provide some insight into the future of development, customer service, quality assurance and play testing at Mythic. Though we are resizing the team to move from a pre-launch to a post-launch size, we remain fully committed to creating and delivering the best WAR experience.
We have a very exciting schedule planned for new WAR content and that schedule is unchanged. Over the next few months, the announced "Call to Arms" live expansion events, new careers, new Tomb King themed area and RvR dungeon will be made available to our players as planned.
With respect to customer service, quality assurance and play testing, prior to the launch of WAR, we hired additional people to deal with the rush of demand associated with an MMO launch and to insure the best possible experience for our players. We accomplished that goal and as a result we had the smoothest-ever launch of a major MMO. Since the launch last year, the demand for customer service has gone down as players become more familiar with the game. Obviously, demand for a large QA and play-testing staff also falls after launch. As a result, we saw a staff reduction which is in line with the company-wide initiative. In no way does this conflict with our commitment to customer service. Staffing numbers will always map to consumer needs – it goes up when we launch new products and expand popular ones, and comes back down as players become familiar with the game.
Although we now have fewer developers on the game than we did leading up to the launch, WAR still has a larger dev team today than we ever had for Dark Age of Camelot. At Mythic, we’re committed to maintaining the trust of WAR players – we’re going to deliver the content and service that keeps you playing.
World of Warcraft
It seemed like a slow week for WoW. The only things going on are the Lunar Festival, announcing that they need to nerf hunters, and the release of episode 7 of their "BlizzCast" podcast.
Blizzard’s BlizzCast Episode 7 is now available for the community to listen to. The latest BlizzCast covers the lore and content of the second World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King. Joining Nethaera for the BlizzCast discussion is Production Director, J. Allen Brack and Lead Game Designer, Jeffrey Kaplan. Later in the BlizzCast Nethaera sits down with Senior Vice President of Creative Development Chris Metzen for more discussion on Wrath of the Lich King. This BlizzCast has plenty of information for lore junkies and Blizzard fans to wet their appetite on so tune into BlizzCast Episode 7 now!
World of Cars
Before today I had never heard of World of Cars. WoC is based off of the popular Disney movie and franchise Cars. This would be Disney’s third game with the others being ToonTown and the Pirates of the Caribbean MMO. From watching the trailer, the racing bits look a lot like the Nintendo game R.C. Pro Am. It also appears to feature robust car creation. You can check out the trailer at WorldofCars.com, and the list of all the features announced so far following this text.
This summer, Disney Online will launch World of Cars Online, a 3D online world based on the hit movie CARS. Players will be able to take an amazing ride into a wacky world full of fun and adventure by designing their own car, becoming a racing legend, making new friends, and playing mini-games with Lightning McQueen and the rest of the cast. Just some of the features World of Cars Online will include are:
– Create a Car – Players can pick the body style, color, wheels and name to trick out their own ride
– Race for the Cup – Players start on local dirt tracks and work their way up to the national circuit to become a Piston Cup Champ
– Explore the Open Road: Starting in Radiator Springs and driving beyond Carburetor County, players can explore a whole new world of snow racing, dune jumping, and beach wheelies
– Build Your Own Race Track and Garage: Players can expand and decorate their Garage as well as build their own racetracks and invite friends over to race on it
– Play Fun Mini-Games: There are awesome mini-games like tow truck driving, tractor tipping, stunt shows, and more
– Cool Car Add-Ons: Players can earn coins to upgrade their Car with new paint colors, spoilers, rims, fins, bigger engines, and more one-of-a-kind items
– Make New Friends: Players can meet and chat with Mater, Guido and Luigi, and other wacky characters from the movie as well as thousands of other players
– Become a Legend: Players can steer their way to earning fans, sponsors and winning the Piston Cup, joining Doc, Lightning McQueen, and other elite racers!
To provide players with a sneak peek into The World of Cars Online, Disney Online recently launched The World of Cars Online TEST TRACK at www.WorldofCars.com. Now live for PC and Mac users, the TEST TRACK allows players to create their own Car and race it on test tracks, which earns players Car Coins that they can spend when The World of Cars Online launches this Summer. Features of The World of Cars TEST TRACK include:
– Car Creator – Three simple steps to creating a player’s own Car, including a Garage where they can customize their ride
– 2 Tracks: Training Track and Carburetor County Speedway
– Leaderboards: Players can compare their track times against other players on the Racing Sports Network leaderboard
– Unlock Collectibles including a Bonus Track – Race Codes are located inside specially marked Cars die-cast toys from Mattel