When Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning launched last week, hopes were high. The game had been in the works for more than three years, after Mythic Entertainment picked up the massively multiplayer online role-playing license in the wake of Climax Online's failed attempt.
After Electronic Arts bought Mythic in 2006, it sunk a "huge pile of money" into the title, designer Brian Wheeler said at a recent press event. Indeed, last month, EA Games president Frank Gibeau told GameSpot that he thinks Warhammer has a good chance to "bring something fresh" to the MMORPG space, currently dominated by Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft.
As it turns out, Warhammer is already well on its way to fulfilling Gibeau's aspirations. EA today announced that in its first seven days on the market, the game garnered a half-million account sign-ups--or more than 71,000 each day. Though nowhere near World of Warcraft's 11-million-strong subscriber base, the number is 100,000 more than the first-week performance of Funcom's Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, WOW's biggest challenger to date.
EA claims Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, which it abbreviates as "WAR," is now "the fastest-selling new MMO of all time." It also has room to grow since WAR is currently sold only in North America, Europe, and Australasia--unlike WOW, which is available in Asia proper, including the hyper-lucrative Chinese and Korean markets.
However, it remains to be seen whether WAR's growth can sustain itself, unlike another MMORPG. Despite shipping 1.2 million units, Age of Conan had only 415,000 subscribers worldwide three months after launching.