The Warhammer franchise, based on the popular tabletop miniatures game by the Nottingham-based company Games Workshop, has always struggled to get a foothold in online-gaming. Now, on March 29th, 2013, Mythic Entertainment will be shutting down all online services associated with the play-4-free Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes (WOH), which is itself a spin-off from the failed Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MORG).
The End of Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes
Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes
Here is the official press statement from WOH producer James Casey of Mythic Games:
My Thoughts – James Casey, Producer
Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes
Launched in Beta just over a year ago, the free-to-play battle arena version of Warhammer Online was a grand experiment. We were able to test new server technology, learn more about the free-to-play market, and engage in endless quick, down and dirty, three-way battles any time of day or night. On all of these fronts, we were able to make great inroads and insights and deliver a fast and frenetic game.
As a producer for this game from the start, I am proud of the hard work and effort that made the game possible and I feel sad that it is not able to carry on. I think we created something special and I would not trade the time creating it or playing it (on all those Friday Fight Fests and anonymously almost every day) for anything.
I hope that those who have played it at any time in the past will stick through to the end, enjoy the special pricing so you can try out everything before it goes, and try out a few of the special things that were still in our pipeline.
Warhammer Online – A Difficult History
The Warhammer franchise remains a strong IP in everything but computer gaming. The Black Library novels associated with the Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40K games frequently top the New York Bestseller Lists. Games Workshop, the company behind the miniatures games themselves, reported record profits for the six months leading up to December 2012 in their most recent half-yearly financial report.
Yet, for all its popularity, it appear the Warhammer games cannot gain a foothold in computer gaming.
- Warhammer 40.000: Dark Millenium, an MORG based on Warhammer 40.000, the sci-fi counterpart to Warhammer Fantasy, originally developed by THQ, was first down-sized to a simple single-player game and later auctioned off when THQ declared bankruptcy. Current status: Unknown.
- Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, the full-fledged MORPG developed by Mythic Entertainment (currently known as BioWare Mythic) was released in September 2008. Though it received mostly good reviews, it bombed commercially and was unable to attract enough players from competitors, including the (in 2008 still fresh) World of Warcraft.
- Now, even the free-4-play Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes is about to go offline?
Why is this popular franchise, which seems perfectly made for gaming and online-gaming in particular, struggling so hard?
After all, the very first Warcraft, which started Blizzard’s rise, way back in 1994, was once meant to be a Warhammer RTS. It was only re-branded after Games Workshop backed out and Blizzard went at it on their own!
- Is the competition simply too strong?
- Are the developers working on the various Warhammer and Warhammer 40.000 games not up to the task?
- Are the many fans of the tabletop game and the novels not interested to experience the worlds of Warhammer and Warhammer 40K online?
Personally, I am still holding out for a good, successful adaptation of Warhammer and Warhammer 40.000 for online gaming. As it stands, I will have to make due with older single-player titles or the tabletop miniatures game for the moment.