Rivalry is the life of trade, and the death of the trader.

Looking at release schedules you’d think that World of Warcraft was the younger sibling to Warhammer Online and not the other way around, as soon as WAR got a chance to be front and centre with their initial game release, WoW came bursting in to the room and shoved WAR aside with its Wrath of the Lich King “Look at me, look at me, I’m the special one! Look at me!” routine.

So WAR patiently takes a back seat as bemused parents watch WoW perform its new expansion routine, in that sickeningly over-cutesy way that only younger siblings can. Once WoW has burned itself out on being the entertaining centre of attention and crawled off to the corner for a nap, WAR steps forward again to gentle smiles from the adoring parental audience and announces that it will now perform patch 1.2 for them. But just as WAR opens its mouth to begin a delightful recital of new classes and dungeons and such, WoW wakes from its slumber, realises that someone else might be getting some attention and charges back in front of everyone, shoving WAR out of the way yet again and announces with puffed-out chest that it is now going to perform patch 3.1 for all and sundry.

Once or twice is a coincidence, but Blizzard’s uncanny ability to release next to no content until one of its competitors does is coming across as quite childish to my mind. Not only that but it shows their lack of respect for their customer base, because we all know that one uses ‘competition’ with respect to World of Warcraft in the very loosest sense of the word because nothing can really compete at this stage of the game, so while their player base clamours for more content for their subscription fee, Blizzard seem to be holding it back until such a time as it is useful to stamp on the release schedules of other companies.

Quite frankly Blizzard you won this generation of gaming a long, long time ago, and one would expect a more mature and perhaps even benevolent attitude from such an unsurpassable behemoth as yourselves.

10 thoughts on “Rivalry is the life of trade, and the death of the trader.

  1. arbitrary

    I agree, 100%. I’m sick of the back and forth between games at all really. We all soon learn which we prefer and it seems the current trend is to play a few anyway.

  2. unwise

    You can’t blame Activision Blizzard for doing everything in their power to maximise their profits. That’s what corporations do, as naturally as breathing.

    Ironically, it was likely the demands of EA’s shareholders, and not Blizzard’s, that did the most to hurt WAR. They weren’t prepared to give the game the extra 6 months of development it obviously needed, and consequently it was launched in an unfinished state two months before WotLK inevitably came along and crushed it.

    And after all that, EA’s financial report *still* sucked.

  3. Melmoth

    @arbitrary The end of MMOnogamous gaming has arrived, or so it seems.

    @unwise It’s not so much the attempt to maximise their profits, that’s perfectly understandable, it’s more the fact that they seem to be doing so at the expense of their consumers by concentrating on interfering with the opposition rather than following their own internal plan. I would say Wrath of the Lich King was a more technically impressive expansion than The Burning Crusade, but it felt a lot less substantial, for the same price.

    Perhaps it is all just a major coincidence, but it seems suspect to me, and if so, to my mind it indicates a Microsoftian contempt for their customers.

    And I agree, EA is EA and always will be. They thank John Madden every day for their continued existence.

    I’m just sad because I think Blizzard could easily afford to be the ‘bigger’ company and not try to entirely squash other competition in the MMO market. Stifling the competition worked for Microsoft in so far as it generated lots of revenue, but I would say that it backfired in the amount of ill will it generated.

    Anyway, this is all a bit too morose really, it’s back to the more light-hearted posts for me!

  4. pjharvey

    Let’s also consider that many of the UI changes in WoW have been taken from the mod community. It is quite possible that if Blizzard let the MMOG market grow naturally they could reap the benefits of better UI and game design that comes from a more varied base.

  5. Melmoth

    Blizzard are so strange when it comes to adopting other technologies, it’s almost as if they refuse to acknowledge anything outside their game unless it was home grown. They seem to cherry pick a few elements such as achievements, while leaving others that also seem to be desirable to players, e.g. mentoring systems, player housing or cosmetic armour.

    Maybe they want the game to remain their own, whatever that may mean, considering that it’s just a very tidy evolution of the DikuMUD framework. I’m not saying that they’re doing anything wrong, all the subscription numbers point to something very right, I’m just not sure I understand or like their methodology. I’m probably not meant to though, I’m just supposed to enjoy their game and pay them their fee.

    I certainly can’t expect to understand a company that implements something as technically excellent as phasing, and then uses it so little in their expansion.

    Unless of course WoW is now just a paid-for testbed for another MMO…

    Lordy, ’tis hot under this tinfoil hat.

  6. GreenArmadillo

    So, in the interest of being fair to the market, Blizzard should not be allowed to announce or release any new content for its customers if the timing might overshadow a competitor’s patch? When will it be acceptable for Blizzard to test content and release content, given that installments of the heavily hyped “live expansion” for Warhammer will be appearing on a monthly basis? If they had waited until after 1.2 went live, wouldn’t they get accused of taking advantage of the lull before 1.3?

    I’m not saying that Blizzard doesn’t consider its competitors’ (remember, the 11 million number includes many Asian customers who don’t pay very much, so Warhammer’s over 750K registered accounts could easily have represented 10-20% of the most lucrative North American and European markets), I’m just saying that there isn’t really a good time for your competitors to be announcing good news.

  7. ThatsSkarWithAK

    This whole blizzard thing, started before the WotLK. Their 3.02 patch arrived 2/3 weeks after Warhammer launched. This was a significant patch in it’s own right, since it include the opportunity to level up inscription up to 375.

    It was timed to arrive just as the initial Warhammer burnout was happening.

    Then WotLK arrived, this was I think 6 weeks after. If I remember correctly, the additional download that came with this addon when it was installed was minimal. Which implied the bulk of the download was 3 weeks earlier.

    Blizzard had WotLK in the bag and basically could release it when they wanted to. Which strategically was in November, when it would grab the most returnees.

  8. Psy

    It’s called marketing strategies, can the hell over it. I actually stopped playing World of Warcraft to try out Warhammer Online (so far so good) but all the slander towards BOTH games is just complete BULL.

    Blizzard will ALWAYS do this to WAR and ANY OTHER MMORPG. Why? Because it’s good marketing, it’s proven to work on many occasions and if it works, why would they stop doing it? It’s not illegal, so EA Mythic can’t stop them. At all.

    All the slander towards WoW is absolute bull, as is all the slander towards WAR. You either like the games or you hate them. You can like both, or none at all. It’s your choice, but regardless of what you say or think people will always like WoW over WAR and some will prefer WAR over WoW. Same thing happened (and still happens) with AoC.

    And, in the grand scheme of things. Blizzard can do what they like really. They have over 11 million subscribers backing them up. I hate to say it, but MMOs are indeed hard pressed to shove WoW off it’s attention-whoring streak. Hopefully WAR can do it, I’m also waiting around for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

    Will both compete with WoW? I don’t think we can tell right now. WoW has been out for four years, WAR has been out for not even one. If it lasts a year or two, I’ll say it’s done pretty damn good.

  9. GreenArmadillo

    @Skar: You’re absolutey right on WoW’s patch 3.0.2, and I wrote as much at the time. The timing could not have been more deliberate – the 3.0 PTR’s was carefully timed for the week Warhammer launched, and the actual patch carefully went live just before Warhammer’s first monthly bill came due, even though it could have used a little bit more testing and had to be followed by a number of emergency balance fixes. The expansion itself followed almost exactly a month later, right before Warhammer’s second monthly fee.

    As to the suggestion that Blizzard had “WotLK in the bag” in October and delayed it to wait for more Warhammer burnout? As a beta tester I can tell you that the beta continued and substantial changes were made during that “extra” month, without which the final product would have been substantially worse. If anything, you could argue that the game launched too soon given the scope of changes that had to be made since, but that was motivated far more by having it on shelves for the holidays than by any need to stick it to poor little old Warhammer. The size of the download has nothing whatsoever to do with the quantity of changes – the size comes from art and zone geography, which has to be done months in advance so that it can be pressed onto the DVD that gets sold in stores.

    My point being that, when Blizzard wants to screw their competitors, you’re not sitting here wondering whether they’re messing with you, you’re buried in hype. Right now, Blizzard is so unconcerned with where its competition sits that the guy in charge of class balance actually posted in public that it’s worth trying out other games, which is absolutely and categorically not what they were doing back in October.

    But hey, if Mythic is the mature elder sibling who just wants more successful games for the good of the industry, surely you all won’t mind delaying the 1.2 patch so that Darkfall can have its moment in the sun, right?

  10. ThatsSkarWithAK


    Fair enough about not being in the bag. So it was even more focused a counter strike from blizzard.


    I appreciate that it’s all about marketing, however a semi successful competitor would do more to galvanise Blizzard than sitting back on their laurels, which they have done for the last couple of years. Blizzard have been more proactive/reactive in the last 4/5 months than I have seen for the last 4 years, since they became the only game in town. I mean that merely from a subscriber base, than literally.

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