Home > Uncategorized > WAR’s Population – Then & Now

WAR’s Population – Then & Now

As Warhammer Online turns the page in the third chapter of its existence, we can take a step back to see where the game has been thus far. The chief measure people use to gauge the success of an MMO is generally population, which in turn equals revenue; by this measure it has certainly been a bumpy road for WAR. How many people can proudly claim the badge of having been subbed [and playing] WAR for 3 years? How many people can proudly boast of having been on the same server since launch? The list of people who have been with WAR and been ‘actively’ playing since launch seems rather meager. What’s WAR left with? The ‘hardcores’, as we’ve been christened.

If we look back at September 18th 2008 when WAR went live, we had a reported 800,000 subs and saw a list of servers balloon to the dozens (number I saw was 60 for NA/Oceanic, don’t know EU) with servers stretching across Europe, North America, and Oceania. Now while we can say that many of these subs were ‘ooh look at the new shiney’-subs and could naturally assume that not all would be retained, the level of attrition was a bit extreme. By December of 2008 the subs had dropped to 300,000. But even in December and early 2009 the PvE lakes were still living and teeming with new players. WAR was new, it was a huge world to explore, and it was full of plenty of people who wanted to explore it. I remember doing the Shattered Beach PQ in Chrace and we literally had almost a warband trying to do that thing – a warband of people doing PvE! I was an elf so I stayed in the Elf pairing until T3, but given the greater popularity of the Dwarf v Greenskin and Empire v Chaos pairings I can imagine their PvE lakes were more populated. But alas the remaining 300,000 players were still scattered across dozens of servers, some completely dead – not a great prospect for players.

Come 2009 Mythic started cleaning out the servers. In March the North American/Oceanic contingent went from 60 servers to 17 (I’m going to say 18 since Phoenix Throne isn’t listed… but then later that month Ostermark was merged so 17 it is). Come summer two big events happened to address server and game populations. First of all Land of the Dead was released; think of it as what you will, but many perceived it as an ‘expansion’. Needless to say it didn’t sit too well with many players, and I saw on my server many people un-sub shortly after LotD launched. Secondly we had our second major server mergers in July which condensed the North American and Oceanic servers down to 12 – these server mergers helped conceal the drop in population from the LotD launch. In August we lost 3 more (somewhere along the line Ungrim, Magnus, and Monolith disappeared too… who knows when, the players from those servers weren’t people anyway =P) bringing us down to 6. And so WAR ended its first year.

In December of 2009 the club was trimmed to 4 with the loss of Phoenix Throne and Dark Crag; the Oceanic servers were completely wiped out. July of 2010, just before the 2nd year anniversary, Mythic took in the GOA European orphans, which ‘bumped’ up the list of servers to 9 – 4 NA, 1 EU French, 2 EU German, and 2 EU English. WAR’s 2nd year ended in a state of stability, though unease and unrest with the lack of new content, something soon to change.

With the third year of WAR kicking off in September of 2010, we quickly got our ‘2nd expansion’ with 1.4 in November. As quickly as the masses flooded in to play the new Skaven ‘classes’, they flooded back out. However no flood leaves the surrounding countryside unscathed, and it swept away more players. In February it became necessary to merge two NA servers into Badlands and Gorfang (my home since 2008!), and one of the German servers into Drakenwald; and in April the last French server, Athel Loren, was merged as well.  And so WAR ended its 3rd year with 5 servers left.

As WAR enters its 4th year, already the community of Badlands is asking to be merged, and for the most part already jumping ship rather than wait. Somewhere out there there are Asian and Russian servers, but I don’t know how many. Perhaps one day they will be brought into the fold (if they already haven’t?)

Why did WAR’s population decrease? Initially for two reasons which attribute for the first major losses of subs – the game was released horribly buggy, and the game had a strong PvP focus which many MMO players didn’t like. This left a more PvP driven population, and subsequent drops reflected a lack of new content/new ways to experience the PvP. WAR still has the best PvP for an MMO, but its been the same PvP for 3 years. Yay now you can hit RR100… fighting in the same damn zones, same damn scenarios, and same damn cities. Enjoy.

Mythic is banking on WoH to increase WAR subs, but will people just sub for WAR to receive WoH benefits or will they actually play WAR? How many people currently playing WAR will jump ship to play WoH for the faster scenario-play? The herald teases us with ‘more bloodshed’ next year, but at what cost? Last two ‘expansions’ served only to decrease the game’s population. People have been prophesying WAR’s demise since early 2009, and it still goes on, but one cannot help but ask ‘for how much longer?’ The trend in population I’ve written about above isn’t very hopeful. I have long defended WAR and told the nay-sayers that WAR will still go on even when they un-sub, but at some point even I begin to lose hope.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. September 22, 2011 at 11:54 PM

    I am curious to see how many European servers there were with launch. I saw a list of 22 English ones. If anyone knows, please share =P

  2. Karic
    September 23, 2011 at 5:35 AM

    Afaik you can see the old server list, when you expand the “server select window” at least when the servers are down you see a complete list of all Mythic and GOA servers (this may be even seen when you try to log on the test-server, but I’m not sure).

    I think there were about 10-12 German Server at release of WAR, 2 RP, 2 ORvR, 2 ORvR-RP and a handful of normal servers.

  3. Tatler
    September 23, 2011 at 7:54 AM

    Asian servers all closed over a year ago I believe.

  4. September 23, 2011 at 8:04 AM

    I still get that great tingly feeling of nostalgia when I think back to launch. When you said you can remember using a full warband in Chrace to finish a PQ in T1 it just brought back great memories of the exploring I did on my WL and doing practically every storyline and PQ there was, despite the fact I would outlevel and be wasting my time doing so.

    I still remember doing the T3 Epic quest line for my ‘Super’ Weapon. I was the greatest thing since sliced bread for all of 2 weeks as I stood around in Altdorf letting those slow pokes examine me. I remember when even our guild warband couldn’t handle the roaming boss in BS. I remember my first keep take in T2 in Ostland, after only 5 wipes with no enemy interference.

    If only WAR had the budget to keep expanding in the right direction. I’m sure it would have been a game I would never have been able to stop playing.

  5. Happenstance
    September 23, 2011 at 7:30 PM

    I suspect a lot of folks (including myself) had similar experiences with WAR at launch. There was just something really memorable about seeing hundreds, even thousands, of players fill the RvR lakes, war camps and quest hubs and light up multiple PQs in every tier. The chaotic hustle and bustle caused by players experiencing an MMO for the first time is something special that’s not easily replicated once the initial 30 day rush is over.

    In my case I’ve played WAR off and on since launch, usually in 3 or 4 month stints with short breaks in between. Each time I resubscribe I’m hit with a tremendous feeling of nostalgia. Unfortunately recalling those fond memories of the “old days” also forces me to face the reality that the WAR of today, despite it’s improvements, is a bit… hollow. Perhaps it’s all of those friends that I grouped with in years past that have since been scattered to the winds or just the sheer amount of content that’s either been removed completely or sits unused in some PvE area never to be played again. Either way, there’s an almost indescribable but noticeable difference in the game that puts a damper on some of the fun for me.

    And if you really want an even more (slightly depressing!) hit of nostalgia, do some exploring in the PvE (read as: completely dead) parts of each zone. It’s almost eery finding lairs, weird exploration quests or half-finished PQs because you just know that no player has stepped foot in those areas in a year or more.

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