The Downward Spiral Continues

Hot on the heels of last week’s editorial regarding the decline of a few top-shelf MMO titles, more depressing news is surfacing from our well-known culprits, as well as another title that is beginning to circle the drain.

Let me get the headline out of the way:  Warhammer Online‘s European distributor, GOA, has handed the management rights back to Mythic, and gotten out of the game.  There really is no good that can come of this.  First of all, migrating all of your European players’ data and connections to US-based servers is not going to win you any friends, even if its done flawlessly.  And secondly, and most obviously, this is a clear indication that GOA considered the continued operation of WAR to be financially inviable.  After all, they weren’t the developers — their obligation to this game was strictly customer service, retail management, and infrastructure.  The only reason to give up on those operations, is when they cost more than they are worth.

Smell like a downward spiral to you?  It certainly does from this angle.  Our guess is that WAR has under a year before either closing their doors, or being sold off to a larger MMO conglomerate like SOE or NCSoft.  Either ending is not a good one for fans of this title, and it might not be long before we have to publish a final Death Certificate on this MMO.

Not to be outdone by this bleak news, Aion has recently announced their own series of server mergers.  Although the game was frequently hyped up as the “WoW-Killer” before it’s North American release last year, it has fallen quite short of that potential.  The title is still relatively strong in the MMO market, but this announcement has made it clear that NCSoft vastly overestimated the game’s market appeal in the Western MMO scene.  After all, it’s been under a year since Aion launched in this market, and already the population has dwindled enough to warrant a major restructure of their server architecture.  According to their FAQ, the current line-up of 31 servers across North America and Europe will be reduced to a mere 13 — gutted by almost 60%.  Ouch.


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