WAR Online "technically" ready for launch

Delay is to give it polish, says producer.

In an interview with Eurogamer, Jeff Hickman, senior producer of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning at EA Mythic, has explained the reasons for the fantasy MMO's recently announced delay from spring to autumn this year.

"We need more time to polish it," said Hickman, explaining that the actual content of the game was already, to all intents and purposes, complete. "All the content's done. The game is fully playable. Technically, I could launch the game today."

Instead, Mythic is conducting an exhaustive overhaul of the entire game and its interface to bring it up to the desired standard. "We're looking at every quest in the game, we're looking at how the land is set up, all of the content. Everything," he said. "And making sure that it feels the way that it needs to feel, and that we want it to feel, so that we can have a slam dunk success when we launch the game."

The move, said Hickman, is part of EA's drive to improve the quality of its games. "We believe very strongly, and John Riccitiello the CEO at EA has really pushed hard on this in the last year since he came online, that getting games out the door quickly, making the quick buck, is not what EA needs to be about," he said. "We need to be about quality games, games that build big franchises, games that have future and longevity."

Although the game has been delayed from the second to fourth quarter of 2008, Hickman said, "I know the actual dates and it's not six months. Let's call it three to six months," he added, which would suggest an early autumn release date. This will likely put it very close to the release of second World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, expected late this year.

However, Hickman said that Warhammer Online was not expected to compete closely with Blizzard's behemoth, and suggested that EA would be happy just to have a profitable MMO on the market. "We don't expect to dominate the MMO space against the biggest game out there," he said. "We have very very sound expectations for our game, I think we're going to meet those expectations, and I think EA is going to go, 'Oh my Lord, we finally have an MMO'. And they're going to be happy as hell."

Read more of Hickman's thoughts in the full interview, or visit the Eurogamer MMO Channel to find more coverage of Warhammer Online.

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