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Is Anybody Really Happy the WAR Guys Are Back?


Forgive me for being a little crass, but I’m not all that excited Paul Barnett and Mark Jacobs are back. These are the same guys who sold us a total bill of goods and then dropped the ball like lepers at the super bowl. To be quite honest, I’d keep Paul Barnett out from in front of a camera (and microphone) for another three years if I could. If AOL wanted to help the MMO community, they’d have Massively pretend these two don’t exist entirely. Both their names are synonymous with failure and disappointment.

And it doesn’t help that these guys are pretty much severing all ties they had with the MMO world. Paul Barnett came off like a “facebook games are the future” –type back in December and was outright dismissive his former (and now future) customers. And Minecraft players, of course, because, you know, Minecraft isn’t even really a game. Mark Jacobs is doing the same but at least he’s being upfront about it. He says that social games are easier to make and their players are easier to please. It’s also a lot harder to put your foot in your mouth when your whole game consists of aiming birds or pressing “jump” repeatedly.

Simply put: Both these guys messed up. They’re likeable enough people and I respect them for their talents, but they should lose their PR privileges forever – you don’t shackle yourself to the Titanic and then try to sell me a river boat. Even though Mark Jacobs would have you believe it was EA that drowned WAR, a good look at Christmas Past should tell us all that WAR had fundamental problems far before EA bought them. It didn’t start with the buy-out, it only got worse because of it.

So, yeah. Enough with the schilling already. You pay marketing people to market, not “creative strategists” and CEOs.


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  1. Wilhelm Arcturus

    I am indifferent about Mark Jacobs. He is adapting to the reality of his position and the art of the possible, though I have to wonder how he feels following in Richard Garriott’s foot steps all the time.

    That Barnett bloke… I think he does more harm that good. The WAR fan boys loved him, but the fan boys were already on WAR’s team. His attitude seemed to alienate those outside of that circle.

    The one thing that Barnett said that I liked was his bit about good ideas versus strong ideas. I have seen that myself. Unfortunately, his observation was incomplete in that it assumed that strong ideas are also always good ideas. They are not. They can be bad and thus even more disastrous because they take on a life of their own.

    And isn’t “schilling” a spice company or the currency of Austria or something? Enough with being a shill?

  2. Stabs

    They’re only back if you play a game from them.

  3. Green Armadillo

    I respectfully suggest that you have it backwards.

    By the time it came down to marketing, the damage was already done. Yes, they over-hyped their product, and yes, that hype may have harmed the reception of the product in the long run. That said, what were they supposed to do, go out there and say that they aimed for the stars and came up short, but that if we support them anyway perhaps they’ll get there eventually with our subscription dollars?

    Flashing forward to 2011 for a minute, the real difference between Rift and every other MMO (except maybe LOTRO?) that has launched after WoW is that the team set feasible goals, achieved them, and thereby delivered a quality product on launch day. Trion wisely chose to hold off on many features – appearance armor, dungeon group finders, etc – in favor of implementing what they were actually able to get done in the time they had. As a result, they have been free to go back and add these features post-launch by building on that solid base.

    By contrast, the last months leading up to Warhammer’s launch saw a massive reduction in scope – four classes, four of six planned cities – and what did launch still needed work. As a result, the game hemorrhaged customers, lost massive amounts of staff, and never got a chance to live up to its potential.

    The point in time at which Jacobs and Barnett actually controlled their destiny was when they allowed the scope of the project to creep far beyond what they could deliver on what EA apparently dictated was a hard launch deadline. The MMO landscape today might be very different if Warhammer had launched in the state that it reached through the patches over the game’s first six months (which are in some ways no less remarkable than what Trion has done in Rift), but by then players had made up their minds that this game was a flop.

    I wouldn’t want either of these guys as my spokesman either, but I’d rather let them be my PR guy than my producer.

  4. Bronte

    Stabs beat me to it, but yes that is true. It’s like elections. We complain about the choosing the lesser of the two evils, but at the end of the day, we still make that choice.

    These two are only back, if we play. Otherwise this isn’t even news.

    Knowing MMO players on the whole though, they arem unfortunately, back.

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