Aggro Me: EA Acquires Mythic
EA Acquires Mythic
Yes, the title of the post pretty much says it all, as this press release will attest. Quotes from Mark Jacobs on the Warhammer Online forums here and here and here.
I happened to come across this news first on the SA forums but it's all over the place. And you'll probably find plenty of commentary in various locales from people who care more than I do. I only say that because I never really got into DaoC and I was never a Warhammer fan, so on a personal level I have very little emotional investment in Mythic's welfare. I will say that I was impressed with the E3 video for Warhammer Online and I thought the game was shaping up well.
It's pretty trendy right now to hate on EA. And while I usually like to punch holes in things that are trendy, in this case I can't argue. EA has been criticized from everything to their business dealings to their treatment of employees to their exclusive licenses to their handling of popular game franchises. And that criticism seems justified. Their track record in the online sector has been especially poor. I'd go so far as to call it horrendous. And their track record in dealing with employees who come over in acquisitions is equally bad.
This is quite different from the Sigil/SOE deal. EA now simply owns Mythic. End of story. But along similar lines, Mythic may lose some players who hate EA just as Sigil may lose some players who hate SOE. I'm not sure how big a factor brand reputation alone is, but it is a factor.
A lot of people on various forums are somehow mad at EA because of this deal. But an important fact to remember is that no one held a gun to the people at Mythic's heads and made them sell the company to EA. That was completely their decision. So if you think it was a bad one, blame them and not EA.
Now, that doesn't change the fact that EA might have a future impact on Mythic games, and you can certainly blame them for that impact when it arises. Will they have a noticeable impact on Warhammer Online? I'd say doubtful. The game is probably pretty far along and there is no sound business reason for EA to mess with it in any major way prior to launch. They will probably let Mythic ride on that one. But for future games or expansions? Yeah, I'd say EA will certainly have an impact. And if I had to guess I'd say that impact will be negative. Hope you like ninjas and samurai.
If you're looking for a positive, you might assume that this deal will somehow supply Mythic with limitless money to use on their projects. But I'm sure EA will be monitoring that budget closely so I wouldn't get my hopes up. I don't think we'll ever see Imperator (which had a great back story if nothing else), by the way, but I didn't think we would before this news either.
As I said before, you'll find commentary similar to the above in various places, with some differences of opinion, of course. So I was trying to think of a unique perspective that most game blogs and forums would not mention. What I came up with is: What about EA? Is this a good acquisition for them?
As I suspected, it was hard to find commentary on that issue. I had to turn to the Yahoo Finance Message Board for ERTS (the EA stock ticker symbol). I warn you that the Yahoo Finance Boards are often far worse than your typical MMO forum. But here are some quotes:
The first comment on the deal was from microsoft_pizza who asks:
"Why can't they buy Blizzard from V? Buy Blizzard and dominate in that space."
Austin5547 doesn't like the move, stating:
"I'm rapidly beginning to tire of these poorly-advised acquisitions by ERTS. First, that befuddling buyout of JMDT for three times fair market value. Now they buy a small-time and has-been MMO developer that has no chance whatsoever of competing with Blizzard's World of Warcraft. Mythic's asking price may have been in the bargain bin as far as acquisitions go, but they're not going to add value to EA's bottom line. I can understand why EA would want to take some of the sting out of a transition year, but moves like this aren't going to do it. Still bullish, but not happy with this move."
Jcradd42 takes a more measured approach:
"Others will pick up on the strengths of WoW, some better ideas will come along, some of the shine will wear off, and eventually there will be another king or a splintering of the audience. One thing that is for sure is MMO isn't going away, so it's good to see EA taking a serious interest at least. It's hard to say much about the wisdom of this move without knowing the price."
As for myself, I completely agree that's it's impossible to judge the acquisition from the EA side of things without knowing the details of the deal. If they made the deal on the belief that Warhammer would even come close to approaching WoW numbers, I guarantee that they will be sorely disappointed. But if they were merely looking to get into the MMO field with a title that is a bit more solid than many others out there, I think they could have done a lot worse than Mythic. I predict that Warhammer Online will turn a profit, if not a sizable one.
I just thought it might be interesting to look at things from the EA perspective for a bit, even though I happen to dislike them.
I do have one other note. When I saw the press release, my mind immediately turned to something that is a bit of an obsession with me, real money transfer. If I don't tell you every day how much I hate RMT, it's only because I don't want to be a repetitive bore. But believe me, I never stop hating it. So when I saw Mark Jacobs' name a bell went off in my hazy memory. Sure enough, I found a quote in an old anti-Station Exchange post I wrote (I can't find a direct link to the original quote) in which Mark stated that Station Exchange was "one of the worst decisions in the history of the MMORPG industry."
So what happens now in terms of Mythic games and RMT? I have no idea. But I'm pretty sure that EA couldn't care less about the evils of RMT if they thought they could turn a profit. So it doesn't make me sleep any easier knowing a vocal RMT opponent is now under the control of EA.