November 10, 2009

The End WAR

Disheartening news has leaked out that a chunk of the recent EA job cutting spree has hit EA Mythic hard:
Mythic laid off 80 people today, which is about 40% of the company and responsible for 90% of the content. According to a friend of mine who left before this happened, they're putting Warhammer into "maintenance mode."

I am not sure if there's been an official announcement, but my friend said that I was free to mention it, because it's surprising it's not out already. (I actually knew about it on Friday but not the numbers.)
There is no hiding it. Many of us (me included) were wrong about WAR. The game has floundered since launch and performed misstep after misstep the entire way. Its only logical that the game's development would be scaled back.

The laundry list of canceled, dieing, or dead MMOGs at the feet of EA is legendary: Earth and Beyond, Motor City Online, The Sims Online, Ultima Online's sequals, etc. It makes one wonder how much the EA merger affected the Mythic office.

Currently, I am part of a company undergoing a similar assimilation by a much larger company and player in our industry. Even with a positive attitude overall in the office, constant commentary from customers about the merger and half-assed quotes from officers of the company easily put people on edge. An environment of mistrust is being born and people rightfully question whether project A or B will exist next week.

In the case of Myhic merging with EA, it should have resulted in a better game. More resources, more manpower, and probably more marketing. However, if the merger created any doubts about the direction of the project, more of everything would have been needed just to keep the ship sailing straight, effectively nullifying any positive gains.

The question now is whether Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is going to be around much longer. Will EA cancel a game that may be costing too much to keep alive or will they dramatically change the way it is managed? Maybe to a point where the game has no chance to do anything other than float on by for a another year before being canceled.

Is there any truth into the "EA = poison" mythos that has been created around MMOG projects they've acquired? Do we need to fear for Star Wars: The Old Republic? IMHO, yes.