WAR vs. WoW mathematics

There’s no shortage of online opinion about Warhammer: Age of Reckoing and how it’s going to perform against World of Warcraft. After listening to podcasts on my daily commute, though, something occurred to me.

I was surprised to hear that Van Hemlock didn’t play Dark Age of Camelot (noted on his very fine podcast, episode 11. Don’t worry about being late putting out your episodes, sir. I’m behind listening to them!). DAoC was a very early MMO, and perhaps easy to overlook. In a way, DAoC was compared to EQ in the same way WAR is being compared to WoW; an underdog competing against the reigning MMO heavyweight champion. Maybe, in the resulting fanboy heavyweight champion buzz, people heard all sorts of things that were “wrong” with DAoC, and didn’t get a chance to discover first-hand everything right about it.

I was mulling over the fact that one of the more prolific MMO game players/bloggers hadn’t experienced everything that was brilliant about the DAoC end game. Van Hemlock knew DAoC’s reputation. He understood on a theoretical level what it was that Mythic had accomplished, but there was no direct experience of the game. It made me wonder how many other MMO players are really in the dark when it comes to what Mythic offers to the genre.

I hope he doesn’t mind me using him as an example. I’m not attempting to critique him specifically; not at all, in fact. He handled his lack of DAoC experience with the grace and aplomb I’d like to see in other internet MMO message board posters. What intrigued me about his revelation was simple math.

Dark Age of Camelot probably hit their subscriber peak at somewhere around 250,000 players. That’s a rough estimate, I haven’t traced the lines on Sir Bruce’s chart to find the precise number. I’m going to compare it to WoW’s numbers, so perhaps you can understand why I don’t feel the need to research the exact number ๐Ÿ™‚ WoW’s peak is above 10 million subscribers.

Given DAoC’s 250k subscribers, let’s be generous and say that 75% of them spent significant time in RvR, the concept that Warhammer Online is built around. 75% of 250k is about 185k. Don’t make me do exact math, it makes me sad. Since I’m comparing it to WoW, so I could use the entire subscriber base, or just half, and it wouldn’t affect the numbers too much.

Let’s take those 185k users, with direct personal experience of RvR, and speculate whether those individuals are being taken at their word regarding what’s different between WAR and WoW in the various forum debates in the MMO world. For the other 9, 815,000 WoW players, how would they know if WAR’s a clone? If they’ve never played an MMO with an endgame like DAoC’s (and DAoC was the only one so far), how can they dismiss what they don’t know? How do you have the nerve to make the clone claim, when you’re talking out of your arse? (For the record, I’ve moved far away from Van Hemlock here!)

I know the answer, of course. Discussion forums encourage stupid, unfounded, strident posts. I guess ignorance of what made DAoC unique, and posting that ignorance, isn’t the real story here. For Mythic, the real story becomes how many of the 9,815,000 WoW players who didn’t play DAoC can play WAR with an open mind. Is it any wonder we’ve got Paul Barnett grinding the WAR organ while the monkey dances?

13 Responses

  1. I never played Daoc myself – I was always against pay to play till I was ‘forced’ to purchase WoW to continue playing with online friends. I would play simple MMORPGs that were free to play and didn’t have the name ‘Runescape’ attached to them.

    It’s only really now (talking 2-3 years onwards) that I’ve spent a large portion of time really getting involved in MMORPGs that are produced by big companies and charge money for them, that I’ve seen the difference between the big, big companies and the lil ones and how much effort and work is put into them, along with the thinking behind it all.

    So in many ways, WARs RvR system will be 100% new to me, yet I actually can’t wait for it. It’s just what I want to do, it’s how I want to play, it’s exactly the sort of avenue I’m looking for in MMORPGs and have been for a long while.

    When I first joined WoW, the first bit of the AQ event was happening on my server (gathering resources etc.) and I loved the whole feel/look of it. Hoping to get the same buzz when I play WAR.

  2. Example away! I freely admit my ignorance of what WAR might or might not be when the day comes.

    Mildly curious about it all myself, and on the whole, reserving judgement until I get round to giving it a go for myself. From what I’m reading so far through, the whole ‘WAR is to DaoC what WoW is to EQ’ comparison might be one of the *least* inaccurate wrong-ends-of-the-stick to grab hold of.

    Looking forward to seeing some post-NDA thoughts in due course!

  3. Van Hemlock, I’ve taken to reading your blog posts and comments in your own voice. It’s so distinctive to our heathen ears on this side of the pond.

    “Least Inaccurate” is the type of award I would have won in school. I like it! I think I was aiming for “WAR is to WoW as DAoC was to EQ”, though.

    Man, that’s almost a 1 to 1 ration on words to acronyms.

  4. Interesting math and a good whack on the side of the head for me, since all my old MMO friends were in DAoC, so I get in the mindset that, well, OF COURSE everyone has played DAoC.

    But y’know, every new game that fits into the broadest of categories gets this. Right now the “root” game seems to be WoW to most people. In the old days, as you suggest, EQ was the “root” game.

    Root as in “{Insert new game title here} is just a clone/rip-off of {root} game.” The irony of course being that WOW was derided as being a clone/rip-off of EQ.

    I think in this case its even easier for uninformed users to make this jump since Blizzard used Warhammer as inspiration for its art style, and of course now WAR is using it. So stylistically the games are somewhat similar, particularly if you, for instance, line of WOW, WAR & AoC.

    Of course few of the deriders stop to think about why the style is the way it is. Maybe they’ll think differently when they’re in a huge raid in a city with 75 players on screen. They’ll be happy for the lower polygon counts then!

    I’m rambling and not really making any lucid points, so I’ll just throw in a /random fist-pump and sign off.

  5. Hey, it made sense to me ๐Ÿ™‚

    I wonder if people will understand the lower poly counts. I really think Mythic’s going to take a beating on the way the game “looks”. I fear that players won’t take the time to consider why the game doesn’t look like Gears of War, or even like LoTRO.

    The game performs well with 75 people on screen though ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. I don’t know that it’s fair to entirely dismiss the opinions of everyone who has not played DAoC. I’ve never tried extreme body piercing, but I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t be a big fan of Pierceneedle: Age of Piercings (in which your character gets gear when you get your real body pierced), even if it turns out not to be a knockoff of World of Piercingcraft. ๐Ÿ˜› (I do appreciate the DAoC perspective, incidentally, I cited it on my blog while discussing the sad state of “PVP” in WoW earlier this week.)

    A bigger, and more valid point is that there is no substitute for playing the actual game before passing judgment. I think Mythic’s decision to continue to gag the only unbiased observers who have actually played the game with an NDA may actually be hurting them in that department. People who COULD be promoting and defending their game for them aren’t being allowed to speak because Paul Burnett would like to fix a few more things before he lifts the curtain. (Except, of course, if you happen to be a major news site that is in no way dependent on gaming studios for the content that brings you your traffic, in which case you may be allowed to give your “unbiased” opinion in advance… this time). As a result, what passes for discussion on this topic is between uninformed people who haven’t played the game and other uninformed people who haven’t played the game, and the resulting exchange is uninformed for some strange reason.

    (I also think that the planned closed “open” beta is a mistake; unless you’re convinced that anyone who tries your game is going to quit and you want to pocket their $50 before they go, you’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to gain by letting interested players try your game for themselves. Then again, maybe they’re waiting to launch a free trial program until whenever the week before Blizzard launches Wrath is.)

    Personally, I’m looking forward to the end of the NDA. Reading blog posts is still no substitute for trying the game, but it’s a huge step forward from only hearing from people who work for Mythic, people who work for people who don’t want to piss off EA’s PR department, and people who don’t actually know anything.

  7. I think you’re right about the NDA, it should be dropped now. I don’t know what they’re going to gain by waiting until the start of Open Beta…well, actually, I know one thing, which I can’t talk about because it’s still closed beta…let’s just say they’re working on making sure some stuff doesn’t happen in Open Beta ๐Ÿ™‚

    I also agree that I can’t dismiss the opinion of everyone who hasn’t played DAoC. I just want to dismiss the “WAR suxorz, WoW rulez!” portion of the population ๐Ÿ™‚ I welcome well-considered comments like yours!

  8. I like the ‘daoc is to eq what war is to wow’ comparison because when I first started playing daoc I was constantly reminded how daoc improved so many of the issues eq had.

    But what no mmo has had since daoc is pvp that matters. Wow may have nearly perfected the pve aspect of mmo-dom, but it’s pvp experience doesn’t hold a candle to 7yr old daoc. So I am excited that thousands of new players will get be part of compelling pvp, even if the pve isn’t an evolutionary step.

  9. You’re right. There were things that Blizzard just didn’t attempt with WoW. Meaningful PvP, housing, serious crafting, building community. It’s a very stripped down version of an MMO, built with incredible care and precision. The PvE really is fantastic; the raiding might only have the original EQ as an equal.

    I do hope that thousands of new players are gently introduced to WAR RvR the way I slowly discovered DAoC’s RvR. I wasn’t a PvP fan when I started, but I grew to love Mythic’s interpretation.

  10. “If theyโ€™ve never played an MMO with an endgame like DAoCโ€™s (and DAoC was the only one so far), how can they dismiss what they donโ€™t know?”

    Eve and Planetside have end game PvP\RvR\GvG. Its not only DAoC.

    History, especially military, and sports have lots of end game just like DAoC. It a group of people verse a group of people in the end. So rule system are narrower then others.

    Ones does not need to have played something to know about something.


  11. True, but you need to know something about that type of endgame before you claim it’s a WoW clone ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also, Eve and Planetside subscriptions numbers added together don’t make much of a dent in the percentage of people who have played WoW.

    If the history and sports analogy applied at all, we wouldn’t be seeing the “it’s a clone” argument. There’s no nuance in those discussions, which I’d expect from someone who’d reference history.

  12. I think that although there aren’t that many ex-DaoC players, they may turn out to be quite influential. I mean, a lot of people will know that DaoC had a reputation for the best PvP endgame ever without ever having played it themselves.

    But yeah, I agree totally with Green Armadillo, people are going to have to try the game and see if they find it compelling or not. See if the things it does well are things they care about. I think Mythic should be lavish with the free trials and invite-a-friend promotions because that’s the best way to convince people who have never tried any PvP except for WoW.

  13. At the risk of straying into the World of Bad Analogy, I used to be something of a military enthusiast and had a brief flashback when watching the news from Georgia, with the reporter talking about “destroyed tanks” as the camera panned over a bunch of trucks and BTR-60s, of the days when I’d fume over the ignorance of people who couldn’t tell the most elementary difference between tanks and APCs and IFVs and SPGs and other AFV TLAs. I’ve since calmed down about that sort of thing; the majority of the time, for the majority of people, anything a bit military looking with a gun is a “tank” and there isn’t really any need to be any more specific, it’s just a shorthand (see also slashdot comment threads if the news talks about a “hacker” breaking into computer systems). Course there are also times when it’s really, really important to know the precise differences between a ZSU-23-4 and a 2K22M.

    By a similar token, games with a bunch of players and levels and health and mana and character classes and yada yada should probably be classified as something like “DikuMUD inspired MMORPG”, but “WoW clone” is an easier and more convenient shorthand (I think “Doom clone” was equally prevalent until “FPS” really took hold, and sandbox-type games have to be described as “like Grand Theft Auto” at least once), I dunno if it’s something worth getting too annoyed about. Like you mentioned in a previous post, though, the blog/forum communities tend more towards the extremist views, so I think there was a general reaction to the idea of “WAR is a WoW-clone” which probably went a bit too far in trying to suggest WAR is totally and utterly different to WoW, which in turn caused a revival of the “WAR is a WoW-clone” crowd pointing out the similarities, and the cycle continues. As other comments point out, it’s only in actually getting in and playing that it really matters, when you’ll find out if it’s the general similarities or key differences that really stick out for you, and whether that’s a good or a bad thing. Still, gives us all something to do ’til the NDA’s lifted…

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