You just need $100 million to beat it. No, we're kidding -- after Activizzard founder Bobby Kotick's presumptuous statement a few months ago that any game company would need at least half a billion dollars to challenge World of Warcraft, EA/Mythic's Mark Jacobs has responded in kind on the eve of their big Warhammer Online release, telling MTV Multiplayer that the number is closer to around $100 million. And that they spent less than that on their big MMO.
We'll be realistic here: we don't think anyone believes, including EA, that WoW's numbers are attainable for another MMO coming out this year -- even Blizzard believes that eventually WoW will go by the wayside, but as Jacobs says, anyone releasing a game today isn't just competing with WoW, they're competing with WoW and Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King. And no matter how long your development cycle or how big your budget, you can't compete with three years of people working around the clock to make the game better for live players.
But EA does want to be successful, and Jacobs says success for him would mean upwards of half a million players. Six months from now, he says, if Warhammer is folding servers and not adding them, the writing is on the wall. There's no reason to think that will be the case, of course -- Warhammer looks like a great game led by one of the biggest publishers in the world supporting one of the best MMO developers, and it's about as close to guaranteed a success gets in the MMO space. But even Mythic would say WoW stands on its own -- while WoW is running, it's highly unlikely we'll see any MMO come anywhere near its 10 million total subscribers.