Mythic boss Mark Jacobs is a busy fellow this week, as Warhammer Online launches globally tomorrow. The last thing he needed to be doing was clarifying sarcastic quips made by Paul Barnett about owner EA and its competency at launching MMOs in Europe, then. Well, not exactly; for Jacobs this is all part of the run up to launch. And, after all, he should know, having been at the helm of arguably the smoothest online world arrival with Dark Age of Camelot nearly seven years ago.
So, in an effort to take up even more of his time, we asked him everything from server stability to Order and Destruction population imbalance, plus how long people will take to level, how long before cities are sacked, and more. Chatty fellow.
Eurogamer: We understand you wanted to clear up comments made by Paul Barnett about EA not knowing how to launch an MMO in Europe?
Mark Jacobs: Well first you've got to understand that Paul is Paul. He's very sarcastic. He tries to be very funny - he usually is. He can be a bit irreverent. And so you need to look at anything he said in the interview from that perspective. Second, in terms of GOA: we had done a deal with GOA before EA bought us. So the idea that we went with GOA because supposedly EA doesn't know anything about doing online games is just not true. There was no EA in the picture. So that was one part of it.
What Paul said about EA not knowing anything about launching MMOs: you know, Paul likes to exaggerate - of course EA knows things about launching MMOs. EA is responsible, certainly, for one of the most important MMOs of all time, and that was Ultima [Online]. And that had people in Europe playing, people in Japan playing - it was really the first MMO to have any success in Japan. And it was the first one to break 100,000 subs.
If you look at the two or three aspects of launching an MMO: the first one is you have to actually develop the damn game, then you've got to be able to sell boxes for the game, and then you've got be able to host and do [customer service] and all that. Well, obviously we know how to do an online game, we've done a number of them before, and certainly Warhammer's off to a wonderful start. The second part - the distribution of the boxes - EA is really good at! That's one of the reasons we went with them; EA wasn't the only company who was looking to acquire us at that time, and we turned down other offers. If you look at North America distribution or European distribution, who's better? EA does that really, really well. The third bit - in terms of hosting and customer service - we do our own, and that's because we've been doing it for a long time.
Eurogamer: How have Warhammer Online's servers been coping, say, compared to other MMO launches?
Mark Jacobs: Compared to the other launches we've had nothing! No downtime, no crashes. Heck, if you want some stats: over the last 48 hours in the United States - I believe it's exactly the same in Europe but I don't have that in front of me - we've had no game crashes, no individual server crashes, and we've only had two zones crash. That's it. Across all servers. That's an incredible amount of stability for the initial two days of a game launch.