Warhammer Europe Beta is going… not well

So… Everyone is blogging about Warhammer open beta being an epic failure in Europe. Given that GOA doesn’t have a very good reputation and that they seem to be screwing around with the Warhammer launch, it’s not looking good. What’s particularly worrisome to me is the explanation of scaling server capacity up only as needed. From a customer perspective, I expect that’ll mean I’ll have to queue to play, and I can guarantee if that happens more then three times without giving me free move to a less burdened server, someone is in for a credit card chargeback.

The server issues coupled with Mythic not being sure if my laptop can actually run the game (GeForce 8600M GT with 512 MB VRAM, runs WoW at 60 fps or so), it starting to feel like Warhammer the game is going to be great, but the technical implementation of the client and server will prevent me from enjoying it. Which is very frustrating, since I really want to play the game, to the point where I’m willing to boot to XP to do it. And that’s saying a lot.

On the hardware requirements side, I have to confess I’m surprised at the minimum spec Mythic has chosen. The current wisdom seems to state one of the reasons WoW succeeded in the first place was the low barrier to entry with the hardware requirements. I don’t know the people in my guild that well, but I’m assuming most of them aren’t the kind of people who upgrade computers to run a game. In fact, very few of the people I ever talked to who play WoW are “hard core” enough to purchase gaming PC’s. People have been hopeful of WAR being the first significant WoW contender but given the game might not run well on many of the WoW player’s machines, this might be a big bump on WAR’s road.

Another interesting aspect that will also affect how well War market adoption is the lack of a Mac client. My personal impression is that Mac owners are more likely to be early adopters than PC owners, and definitely are more likely to recommend products they like to everyone they know. This in turn means that Mac users are more valuable for word of mouth marketing than PC users. This combined with the fact that WoW has lots of Mac players (statistic, anyone, please?) who either can’t play War at all (if no Windows is installed) or need to boot to XP meaning you can’t casually log in (which is totally counter to the Mythic claim of the game being casual-friendly) means WAR will lose a lot of potential early adopter marketing goodwill. And given people form their opinions rather quickly meaning you only get one chance to launch your game, losing the launch game is likely to result in mediocre market performance.

Of course, again, I wish this doesn’t happen. I really want to see WAR succeed. Anyway, I think I’ll wait for a bit and see if I should cancel my pre-order and wait for the dust to settle. If GOA doesn’t get their act together, I can always hit the US servers.

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