Monday, March 22, 2010

Expansion News

Last week at the game Developers Conference, UGO interviewed EA/Bioware manager Ray Muzyka.  Among the topics discussed was Warhammer Online.  He said several interesting things about the game and its future, including expansions.  That would be pretty big news, but does it mean what we want it to mean?

First, what does Bioware have to do with Mythic?  Both are studios owned by EA.  Some time ago, EA made Muzyka the head of their MMO efforts, while still remaining at Bioware.  This means (in my opinion) that Mythic is a separate entity, but still under Ray's umbrella.

Here is the full quote:

It's a really high quality MMO, and it's one of the highest-rated MMOs of all time. We are really proud of the team that did it. They did an amazing job delivering a really high-quality experience. It's been very successful; a lot of people have played it. Right now it's really profitable business unit within my group. I think the team is really focusing on continuing to make sure it's a stable, high-quality service for the fans who enjoy the universe. It's neat because,we've actually seen more people come into the universe which is fun. We've tried some free-to-play models for some of the earlier levels, and I think that's actually drawing people back in. We have new content planned and all kinds of cool expansions for it.

There is a lot to process in this paragraph.  Two things really jump out at me.  First, WAR is profitable.   That is great news.  So long as a MMO is profitable it should have a future.   Since WAR has shrunk over the past year, hopefully we have reached the point where it is growing again.

The second piece is, of course, the mention of new content and expansions.  I hate to do it, but someone has to be the wet blanket.  Usually, an expansion means new races, classes, areas and so on. When I read this, I don't get the impression he means expansions in the traditional sense.  

My guess is he meant new additions to things like the currency vendors, auction house and other game systems.  Content is a tricky word when it comes to MMO's.  You ask several people what they consider content and you'll probably get different answers.  Until Mythic uses the word expansion, I won't get my hopes up.