I was checking out Da’ Bloody Twenty over at Waaagh! today and noticed that Mythic head Mark Jacobs has created his own blog! This is great as it gives players a direct line to contact him and a way to see what’s on his mind. He just began posting yesterday and came out firing. One of his first posts was about how important the success or failure of WAR is to the MMORPG market.

I encourage you to read the full article but here’s the first big section on what it would mean if WAR were to fail:

So, knowing all this, why do I think that WAR is so important to the MMORPG market? Well :

1) If WAR fails, we won’t have the excuse (as some devs have had) of not having the money or the license.

2) If WAR fails, investors will rapidly look to other business models for MMORPGs especially ones that require less of an investment and development cycle to bring to market. We may be coming very close to the tipping point where investors have seen far too many games fail on release and even more of them fail to even launch for them to be comfortable investing large sums in this market. They will prefer to invest in safer things, like large-scale, cold fusion reactors.

3) If WAR fails, players will see yet again another MMORPG fail to live up to its promise. Given the high expectations and tremendous pre-sales we are getting, the fall will be that much harder to take. One of the problems of having high expectations for a game is that if you fail, the fall will be much longer and will hurt that much more when you hit pavement.

4) If WAR fails, publishers will be even less inclined to take on Blizzard whether it’s WoW or their next MMO. This will drive more developers out of the market and fewer AAA, subscription-base MMORPGs will start. Just look at how few MMORPGs are in development at studios (as opposed to getting outside financing) today. Does anyone really think that if WAR is a failure that this will increase the number of MMORPGs in development? If you think so and you happen to have a few spare million, I’d love to sell you some oceanfront property I own in Idaho.

These are all very true and relevant points. I personally wouldn’t see it as the end of the market if WAR were to flop (not that I think it will, at all) but it certainly wouldn’t be encouraging to investors. Right now, WAR is the “next big thing” and it has a lot of promise due to the financial investment and backing the game has, as well as the infrastructure of the EA for distribution. WAR is doing very well right now, if they don’t deliver, players and investors will feel the burn alike.

All in all though, so long as Blizzard is raking in the cash, I can see game companies wanting to try for their piece of the proverbial pie.

OTOH, if WAR succeeds:

1) Investors will flock back into the market. Investors don’t mind taking chances if there is a decent chance of success and if WAR can break the 1M barrier in terms of monthly subs, investors will get excited about making lots money in this space.

2) The whole “Only Blizzard can do it” mentality will go away. The deeply ironic thing about this is that after DAoC was a success publishers/investors said over and over again, “If Mythic can do it, anybody can!” Nothing but love right back at ya baby!

3) The subscription model will be validated (again) to be alive and well in North America and Europe. This model has been pronounced dead more times than Kenny has been killed in South Park (well, maybe not but I love to get a South Park reference in there, I loved that show).

4) Publishers will be willing to take more chances in this space again.

More good points, MBJ! I’ve said it in the past, the more quality games we get on the market, the better it is for all of us. If more investors contribute and the “Only Blizzard can do it” mentality gets shattered, that’s a real possibility. MMOs make up a very unique genre in the gaming world. The subscription model encourages developers to continually improve upon their initial product and to keep the players, and thereby the investors, happy. Add risk encouragement into that equation and you have the makings for revolutionary mechanics that will push the industry forward. We all know that these mechanics can fail just as easily as succeed but such is the path of progress.

All in all, Jacobs’ blog makes for some interesting reading. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this one.