EA Enters MMO Space Again with Mythic

Posted by jgaudiosi :: Industry Trends

WarElectronic Arts enters the potentially lucrative massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) space with its acquisition of of Fairfax, VA-based Mythic Entertainment, which has been making MMOGs for 10 years. The company has had success with its "Dark Age of Camelot" franchise and is currently working on the fantasy MMOG, "Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning." That game, which is expected to ship for PC and Xbox 360 in late 2007, has the potential to become a mainstream hit a la Blizzard's "World of Warcraft," which now has over 6.5 million subscribers.

It wasn't long ago that EA was expected to usher in a new mainstream audience with its MMOG "The Sims Online," but that game failed to lure the millions of PC gamers over to the subscription model. "Earth and Beyond" and "Motor City Online" were also failures. The only success EA has had in the MMOG space was "Ultima Online," which was the result of its purchase of Origin Systems.

"Warhammer" has a huge fantasy following, much like "World of Warcraft." Given that the churn rate for MMOGs is six to nine months, fans of "World of Warcraft" are likely to try other games. "Warhammer" would likely be at the top of their list on the PC side.

Xbox 360 offers another opportunity. With only the dated "Final Fantasy XI" available, and with Microsoft's "DC Comics MMOG" still several years out, "Warhammer Online" would have the space all to itself on Xbox 360. By the time the game is ready by late next year, Microsoft should have a huge gaming audience to tap into. Xbox Live was built for this type of game. And you would expect EA and Microsoft to push this genre heavily.

The MMOG space is by no means a sure thing. There are far too many games being developed for this space, as was evident at E3. But it should follow the hits-driven mentality of PC Games. Big brands like "EverQuest" and "Lineage" should translate to strong sales. "Warhammer" can be the next "World of Warcraft," especially with the marketing muscle of the world's largest game publisher behind it.


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