Server Population Trends and Concerns
Since the launch date of Warhammer Online, September 18th of 2008, the population balance between Order and Destruction on nearly every server has been extremely skewed. It was thought that Warhammer would follow in the path of World of Warcraft, where the majority would favor playing the "good guys" over the "bad guys". Exactly the opposite happened with Warhammer. It could have been fear of a Warcraft repeat, or it could have been that the forces of Destruction are just so stinkin’ cool.
Now, two months later, EA/Mythic has just finished a slew of incentives, giving experience bonuses to players who went with Order over Destruction. As it stands right now, the two sides are nearly even. I suspect, though, that in the absence of experience bonuses, new subscribers will continue to favor Destruction over Order, leading to the same situation.
Its a good time to be Order. Why do I say this? The Order side of nearly all servers has just received a huge influx of players. As a result, RvR Scenario queues are much quicker, keep control in all areas has become a matter of import, and players are enthused about the game and the new dynamics brought about by the change.
Another big change that just occurred (and is still happening) is the introduction of free character transfers between servers. Supposedly this was enacted to even out the population among servers. However, after the first 6 rounds I was still hearing reports of people moving off of so-called "dead servers" in favor of more populated ones. Wasn’t the point to move people from max-pop servers onto low-pop ones? I see server mergers in the near future.
Player Community and Fan-Sites
EA/Mythic took a unique approach to handling the player community. With most MMORPG‘s, the "official forums" are hosted, implemented and moderated by the company that created the game. EA/Mythic did nothing of the sort with Warhammer Online. Important news and announcements are dispersed through the Warhammer Herald, something of an online newsletter, as well as through the launcher/patcher application.
NOTE: Since the time of this article’s original writing, EA/Mythic now hosts official forums here:
Since the nubile days of beta, Warhammer Online developers have made it a point to promote fan-sites, going as far as to make official, and important, announcements on these fan-sites and fan-forums. Its arguable, though, that these sites are actually fan-powered, since many of them are subsidiaries of major sites that deal with many different MMORPG’s and PC games. Regardless, some of the major fan-sites are:
Warhammer Online has a strong community, and as of yet, hasn’t broken down into the purile antics commonly seen on the World of Warcraft official forums. I think that the promotion of fan-sites has encouraged players on both sides of the game to associate and work more closely together to promote Warhammer and provide useful feedback for the development team. The changes, fixes, and improvements we’ve seen in these brief two months are certainly a testimate to this.