With the Warhammer 40K MMO from Vigil Games debuting at E3 this year, I’m sure that publisher THQ wanted a nice clear run at building some heat for this title. Warhammer Online from Mythic is dying a slow death – WAR is shutting down in parts of Asia and there is plenty of consolidation on the main North America servers, with more expected (players being able to play Order and Destruction on the same servers is a big sign) – and having ‘Warhammer’ in the title kind of links the two titles, which isn’t what THQ / Vigil wants.
It wasn’t to be. Three things have popped up to punch the Warhammer 40K appearance in the eyes, PR-wise:
- THQ CEO Brian Farrell indicated that Warhammer 40K is being developed by a small studio on a tight budget and with potentially limited revenue expectations. I fully support the intent of tight and focused budgets on MMOs that will hopefully see the release of tight and focused MMO titles, but the discussion of getting moderate returns from W40K and that it will be “we’ll be making a lot of money” if they get anywhere near 1m active accounts was poorly phrased. In those statements THQ ended up pitching W40K almost as a budget MMO which, given the lack of other information about the title, wouldn’t really be what they’d want coming to mind.
- Games Workshop, owner of the Warhammer and Warhammer 40K IP, issues a lawsuit against Warhammer Alliance (a WAR fansite now owned by the much bigger Curse Network). It looks like GW now considers Warhammer Alliance to be less the non-profit fansite they agreed to let use the IP and now a profit-driven enterprise that requires a licensing fee to keep the name. For outside observers, it looks more like GW is taking legal action against Warhammer Alliance years after it was established. The funny thing is that given how poorly WAR has done, it is likely that all this is going to do is see Warhammer Alliance close while also throwing the scare into potential W40K fansites that they could be on the block if they try to establish something. (Side note: the extreme cynic in me wonders if GW knows that WAR is going to be shut down in the near future and is just trying to get some more licensing dollars before it does. No evidence of that, but time will tell.)
- Vigil is currently seeing a bit of an outflow of people, according to its own LinkedIn profile. In the past month, several highly experienced staff have left Vigil, including Neal Kettler (listed as Lead Programmer, also seen it as Lead Server Programmer), Colin Post (Senior UI Artist), Chuck Suong (Senior Animator) and Ryan Verne (Environment Artist). (Sorry Capen Apple – cool name aside, QA people move around too much to consider it noteworthy.) It could just be a coincidence, or Vigil has just killed off another project that these people were working on, but you’d expect there still to be room on a MMO development team given that it is Vigil’s sole announced title (Darksiders 2 is announced but doesn’t feature on Vigil’s website, so let’s leave that in the ether for the moment). Chuck Suong is the only one I can see that has been linked to W40K, though.
It’s probably not the kind of E3 launch build up that THQ would have wanted.