If you selected this option, congratulations – you decided to back Mythic Entertainment!
- Game That Destroyed Them: Warhammer Online (WAR)
- Studio Launch Date: 1997 (when it took the Mythic name)
- Studio Closure Date: 24 June 2009, when it became BioWare Mythic
- Invested In By: EA
- Estimated Money Blown: “south of US$100m” on WAR
- Cause of Death: Costing too much for what it delivered, not checking that the whole of WAR was equal or better than the sum of its parts, second systems effect
Mythic had built up a bit of a reputation in MMO circles following its launch and development of Dark Ages of Camelot. Expectations were solid for Mythic’s follow-up title, which at one point was going to be space Roman alt-history game Imperator, but that game was cancelled in 2005 in favour of Warhammer Online, aka Warhammer: Age of Reckoning.
Expectations of success was high enough that EA bought Mythic so as to best reap the rewards of WAR’s success.
On the surface, this seemed like a home run for Mythic. They had MMO experience, they had fantasy games experience, the Warhammer IP gave them a solid foundation for game concepts and EA was bankrolling them to make a hit. However, it seems like WAR became hostage to the second system effect, where the ‘second system’ (in this case WAR) tries to improve its ‘first system’ (DAoC) in all ways, but just ends up blowing out the budget, ends up over-designed and lacking in focus.
Systems that players loved in beta when tested on their own – such as RvR fortress capture – didn’t fit with player behaviour when added to the full game. But by then too much money had been spent and the game had to launch. Plus performance issues meant that the big RvR combat just couldn’t happen without crashing the client.
Within 3 months of launch (September 2008), WAR had lost about 62% of its active subscriber base. Within 9 months of WAR’s launch Mark Jacobs, the head of Mythic, was let go and the rest of Mythic was folded into BioWare by EA. Large numbers of WAR servers were
closed consolidated and today the game limps on with perhaps two operational servers out of the over 100 they had open at one point. WAR is now permanently F2P for the early part of the game in an attempt to obviously keep somebody, anybody, in the game.
Sure, Mythic might still technically exist as an entity within EA, but its days as a company in its own right are long gone – and that’s thanks to how badly WAR tanked.