In a genre dominated by Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online has not been the massive breakout success that Electronic Arts and its wholly owned Mythic Entertainment were likely hoping for. After peaking at 750,000 registered players three weeks after its launch in September, Warhammer Online's user base has dwindled to 300,000 users as of EA's most recent accounting, with Mythic taking 63 of the game's servers offline in March.
Today, EA announced a substantial shake-up at Mythic Entertainment, saying that studio general manager Mark Jacobs would be departing the company as of June 23. Mythic Entertainment will subsequently be folded into EA's newly formed RPG/MMO studio group, which also includes BioWare. Heading up the group will be BioWare cofounder and general manager Ray Muzyka, with fellow BioWare cofounder Greg Zeschuk named group creative officer.
Jacobs cofounded Mythic Entertainment along with Rob Denton in 1995 and served as lead designer on Warhammer Online. Denton will replace Jacobs as Mythic Entertainment's general manager, transitioning from his current role as chief operating officer.
"We thank Mark for his contributions at Mythic and wish him the very best going forward," EA said in a statement. "Mark played a major part in the success of Mythic with his contribution as General Manager and Lead Designer of WAR."
Having been acquired by EA in 2007--one year after the publisher bought Mythic--BioWare has quickly ascended to prominence as the publisher's go-to studio in the RPG and MMOG spaces. The heralded Alberta, Canada-headquartered studio plans to ship the long-in-the-making Dragon Age: Origins for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on October 20, with the sci-fi space opera Mass Effect 2 set for Microsoft's platforms in early 2010.
BioWare is also prepping Star Wars: The Old Republic in collaboration with LucasArts. After years of covert development at BioWare's Austin, Texas-based studio, BioWare's first foray into the MMOG genre was formally announced in October 2008. According to the developer, Star Wars: The Old Republic is a successor to BioWare's critically acclaimed Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic console RPG.