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Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is looked at by many gamers as a strong candidate to unseat World of Warcraft as the king of the MMORPG's whenever it actually comes out. Their optimism isn't shared by the company actually making the game, though.
At the William Blair & Company's investor meeting on Tuesday, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello said that, "Warhammer Online [will be] a strong entry in the MMORPG space. No, I don't think it's going to rival WoW, but no one would ever predict that. But it is a strong game that will ... get our returns for us. We're proud of it."
Saying that your MMO will probably have less than 10 million subscribers (around what WoW has) isn't exactly pessimism but it does show how high expectations are for this game and any other major MMO releases these days. WoW has set the bar ridiculously high - by comparison, Everquest never even cracked a million users. I have trouble imagining many other games could achieve that huge of a user base, much less when they have a game as huge as WoW to compete with. Your average MMO gamer isn't going to pay for more than one subscription (at least not for a long time) and a new MMO would need to really impress them in order for them to leave a game that they've invested hundreds of hours on and have accumulated friends, high-level characters, phat loots, etc.
It's nice to see someone in the game industry try to create realistic expectations for their product, though. I prefer it to the other side of the spectrum, inhabited by designers claiming their new game will make me their bitch. Anyway, Warhammer Online is shooting for a Fall 2008 release and I imagine that after repeated delays, fans just want to get their hands on the game and don't really care about whether or not it'll knock WoW down a peg.