As you may have gathered from recent posting volume, I did not renew my subscription to Warhammer at the end of the month that comes with the box. (Brief aside: I don't understand why the online gaming community - not just Warhammer players mind you - calls this a "free" month, since you can't get it without buying a box that costs more than a month of the service.) I didn't feel this decision especially worth commenting on at the time, as it had more to do with wanting to play Wrath on my main (which I have been playing for four years now) than with NOT wanting to play Warhammer. As Syp describes, reports of the death of this game are greatly exaggerated by the timing of its launch. This is the tyranny of the monthly fee, I suppose - having more patience with the game literally costs money out of your pocket.
Well, Mythic sent out a poll to former subscribers to try and found out precisely how many of us aren't playing anymore because of Wrath. I figured that I'd cut them a little deal, by putting a little more thought into the survey than I otherwise would have, in exchange for providing me with material for a blog post. This way (hopefully ;)) at least someone is going to read it.
Question 1: Why did you decide to stop playing?
I have zero complaints about customer service, the general quality of the game, etc, etc. The two gameplay tickboxes I did click are the same ones I, and everyone else, has been talking about - the incentives herd players into scenarios, meaning that there aren't players around to participate in public quests or open RVR. And, ruh roh, I clicked the "went back to another game" box....
Question 2: You're leaving us for Wrath, aren't you?!
Lest there be any doubt about why this particular survey was sent out this particular week, note that they've allowed two separate checkboxes for World of Warcraft AND Wrath of the Lich King, just to make absolutely sure that they get everyone. Also note that they strangely do NOT list Lord of the Rings Online, which has an expansion coming out this week. I suppose you just don't talk about competitors that are smaller than you, for fear of giving them publicity.
Question 3: What makes that game experience better/different than Warhammer?
Response (my actual response to the form):
"Warhammer's scenarios are excellent, but the server population in my level bracket did not support open RVR or public quest content (which was good when players were available to participate). World of Warcraft offers superior solo quest content; though its PVP is inferior, I feel I am investing in a character I will use again in the next patch/expansion. I did not feel that item rewards from RVR/PQ's improved my performance sufficiently to be noticed in scenarios. Either there were other players supporting me and my side won, or we were disorganized and my side lost. This basically removed the incentive to participate in the non-scenario content, and thus most of the depth from the game."
Question 4: When you played Warhammer Online, how did you primarily play?
A: Solo RVR. Other options were solo, PQ's with an informal group, PQ's with a group you joined (I'm guessing this means finding a group first and then looking for a PQ, rather than joining whatever open group - if any - is already at the PQ when you arrive), Joined and played in a Guild, Scenario RVR, and joined a warband to crush my enemies. Yes, the crushing of enemies thing was actually in the survey. I suppose I could have ticked the Scenario RVR box instead, but I wasn't sure if they meant that to imply joining with a premade group.
Question 5: How likely would you be to play Warhammer again if your issues were addressed?
A: Definitely would consider (5 on a scale of 1 to 5), by which I mean that I'm almost certain I will get back to Warhammer sometime in the next year (though EA only cared about the number, rather than any additional commentary).
Question 6: What additional feature would influence you most to logging back in?
Honestly, there isn't that much wrong with the game's zones or creatures, the issue is that the incentives don't encourage players to use the above. Of the options, I felt the quest team was the closest one to blame, but this one could really have used a write-in.
Question 7: So, which one of our marketing people gets credit for selling you the game in the first place?
A: At least this time they included a write-in, so I made sure to give a shout-out to the blogosphere.
Question 8: What did you like most about the game?
A: This one was easy, RVR and exploring the world. I suppose I should have written in scenarios just in case they're listening to the people who want them gone from the game. Oh well.
Question 9: Are you allergic to the concept of paying monthly fees?
The actual question asks whether you've played MMO's before, but they break it out into subscription vs free to play. Inquiring minds at EA, home of microtransaction central, want to know!
Question 10: How many other MMO's did you subscribe to while playing Warhammer?
A: 1, choices were 0, 1, 2, and 3 or more. Perhaps they're following up on Mark Jacob's silly assertion that the idea that players only play one subscription game at a time is silly. Personally, it's not so much that I can't afford the second fee as that I don't have time to play more than one game, so I effectively vote with my virtual feet.
Question 11: Have you ever subscribed to the following MMORPG's?
Again, LOTRO, which was, as far as I know, arguably the number 2 North American MMO until Warhammer came along, is not even on the list. Can't risk reminding players about the competition I suppose. Technically speaking, one could argue that it isn't possible to "subscribe" to Guild Wars, whose entire business model is the lack of a monthly fee, but I suppose it's a bit much to expect the guys in EA marketing to do that much research. Also, I paid Square about $5 in pro-rated monthly fee before pulling the plug on their mandatory grouping based game, so I'm not sure that I really count as subscribing per se.
Question 12: What other systems that EA sells games for do you own?
The PC is the clear winner in terms of my gaming time, and I do occasionally stick my nose into the web-based Kingdom of Loathing (which I used to play a lot more seriously a few years ago). I wasn't sure which of my various consoles, none of which I've bought a new game for since March, to list in the number three slot. And, if I start getting email from EA regarding random Wii shovelware after clicking the Wii checkbox, I won't feel a moment's guilt in flagging it as spam.
Question 12: How much time do you spend gaming?
A: More than 10 hours/week. Actually, it's probably more like 10 on the nose, but 10 or more was the largest option in the poll. The others were less than 3, 3-5, 6-9, 10+, and "not sure". I'd be curious to see why they didn't ask about a higher number, given MMORPG stereotypes and all.
Questions 13-15: A/S/L?
A: Actually, they wanted my email instead of my location, and I would have thought that they already HAD my email since they sent me an invitation to take the survey. Go figure.
Strangely, they didn't actually ask me for any suggestions, other than the multiple choice "what would bring you back". If they HAD asked for a suggestion, I might have suggested some form of looking for guild interface, or *gasp* forum. I wasn't in a guild until the very end of my time in Warhammer, and, frankly, they were mostly active in the tier above my level bracket. (I might not have joined a guild at all, except I needed one to get at the RVR gear vendor.)
Overall, though, I didn't leave Warhammer with any hard feelings. Perhaps I would have gotten more tired of it if I'd spent more time doing nothing but scenarios (which were, at least in the quantities I did them, enjoyable). This way, Mythic can have more time to polish the game up, notably with the forthcoming Heavy Metal patch, and it should be ready to put its best foot forward when I decide I want a break from Wrath. Everyone wins. Well, except EA. They're very sad that I'm not paying them anymore. Sorry EA.