It shouldn’t be a surprise to any of you who know my background that I have been very interested in the forthcoming game Dark Millenium: Online – the Warhammer 40k MMO being developed by THQ. While it’s true that the game is some way out and it’s far too early to jump to conclusions just yet, the message from Danny Bilson, Core Games Director (who has done most of the press stuff so far) has been somewhat incoherent.
Take for example this interview from Computer and Video Games on July 1st:
Speaking at E3 this month, Bilson said that the Vigil-developed online game is “very friendly to the WoW player” and even he as a WoW fanatic will be switching games.
“Have you seen it? The movie? I think it speaks for itself,” Bilson told CVG. “I’m a diehard MMO player myself – going back to EverQuest. I’ve spent lots of time in WoW. As a WoW fanatic, I’m going to go right to 40K as soon as it comes out. It’s very friendly to the WoW player.”
“The brand is fantastic – it’s so deep and so wonderful,” he said. “There’s just so much for us to play with. There’s more vehicles in our thing [than WoW], the combat’s completely different; you can get four guys in a tank and go.
“[40K] is stunning. It’s going to be a masterpiece. It’s been in development for three-and-a-half years already. It’s got two more to go. Look at it.” Go on then: Look at it.
“It’s sensational. I believe within the next six months we’re going to be showing playable sections of the game, not just a movie.” According to the THQ exec, the online game only needs to poach “a million” World of WarCraft players to be successful.
“They’ve got 14 million players! Gimme a million and I’m good! We’re real good at a million, right?” He added: “We don’t need everybody to migrate. We just need some of them – and I’m full confident we’re going to get them.
Two things that strikes me about that interview. Firstly I’m gong to be generous to him and assume that the ‘we only need a million players’ line was just playful banter that he didn’t actually mean. The history of such claims for other games is an unhappy one. Secondly, I couldn’t help but notice that he mentioned WoW a lot more than he mentioned his own product. Which is an unusual marketing tactic by any standards. I thought this was a one-off and perhaps reflected a certain single-mindedness on the journalist – I certainly remember talking about WAR to press who were basically only interested in framing the interview in terms of how that game stacked up to WoW. This week however at the Gamescom in Cologne, Mr Bilson was at it again, this time talking to Eurogamer.
Eurogamer: I’ve been excited about the Warhammer 40K MMO for a long time. When will it be out?
Danny Bilson: A couple more years. It really is about two years out.
Look, there is an 800 pound gorilla out there called World of Warcraft, which is a fantastic MMO that’s going to get updated with Cataclysm soon and drive a lot of people including myself back into it.
I’m a big MMO fan and player. I’ve played EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, City of Heroes, I’ve got a few level 80 characters in WOW. Now, imagine that the people making Dark Millennium Online are all a bunch of guys like me, who love WOW and the expansions it’s had along the way.
We all say to ourselves, ‘We’re not going to get all the WOW players to move to 40K.’ 40K has its own unique coolness and edge. And that edge and glorious gore is not going to appeal to everybody. It appeals to you and I.
But what I know about our 40K game is that if you’ve played WOW you’ll be able to pick up and play this instantly, and you’ll find all these things that feel like upgrades, in a way.
Wait. WoW again? Sure I guess it’s a reference point for the industry and he’s certainly right to describe it as the ’800 pound gorilla’ of the scene but really, could you, y’know, talk a bit about 40k online rather than WoW for a change?
It has a lot of the same qualities of WOW in terms of ease of use and how the interface is. I want to say that if you play WOW, you’ll be able to jump into Dark Millennium Online really easy.
But you won’t be able to be a Space Marine right away, because that’s a very unique class, if you know the universe. The road there is a great road, and they are in the game.
WoW once again. Man can this guy stop talking about the competition. Seriously Activision Blizzard can afford their own PR guys and.. hold on for just one moment. Run that past me again.
But you won’t be able to be a Space Marine right away, because that’s a very unique class, if you know the universe.
In a Warhammer 40k game ‘you won’t be able to be a Space Marine’ straight away? What the hell? The single most iconic thing about the IP, the poster-child for the entire setting, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when you say Warhammer 40k isn’t going to be playable at launch?
Scott Jennings said it best so I’ll just point you at his rant here.
Dear THQ, please don’t make this suck. Also please stop talking about WoW and tell us about your game instead.