Cryptic's Bill Roper - the Diablo and Hellgate luminary now working on superhero MMO Champions Online - has stood up for Mythic's Warhammer Online after it announced its drop to 300,000 subscribers.
"I hear half the people are saying, 'Oh gosh, Warhammer looks like it isn't doing so great,' because they said they had 300,000 subscribers. Those are not bad numbers," Roper told MTV.
"I know many games out there that would love to have 300,000 subscribers," he continued.
Roper thinks that the inflated expectations that come from comparisons with World of Warcraft, which has over 11 million subscribers worldwide, have given pundits and executives a distorted idea of what a successful MMO is.
"It's like when you're in school, and there's the one kid that gets 100 per cent on every single test. You have to throw him out of the curve to actually see how everyone else compares because everyone fails when compared to that guy," Roper said.
"But I think that there are a lot of MMOs out that are thriving. And the good side about that is that you can have a few hundred thousand subscribers, do great, keep the company alive, grow it over time and keep it moving."
The problem comes, Roper said, when publisher executives don't understand that this is the case, or how a smaller MMO can be "fiscally sound".
"I really think that the biggest challenge maybe is that there's a much higher expectation now for MMOs. And It's really tracking more like traditional console sales, where if you don't have a certain amount when you launch - you have to get that big forward momentum at the beginning."
Roper discovered the problems associated with launching a subcription game when he had to close his Flagship Studios venture after the failure of Hellgate: London. He'll be hoping for a better performance from Champions Online when, according to new owners Atari, it launches in June.