As a select few of you may already know, I’ve been a design consultant for Obsidian Entertainment/My.com since the beginning of Early Access (was around for the alpha tests too). Needless to say, I’ve been invested in this game more than just monetarily. I met a lot of wonderful people along the way– my clan mates (KEVIN started out as a group of us design consultants, with Obeyrist, Kilo, and Illusionalsgcty – my officers – helping just as much if not more), those I met later on (XDMR, Urallfish, other EU friends), and of course the Obsidian/My.com guys (Thank you Rich, Josh, and Michael for all you did- your passion for the game was just incredible, and I truly believe that we could have had an amazingly successful game without MailRU being in the way). I hope to keep my ties with most of them, and for those who are without a job, I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.
So, why am I writing this?
I’m writing this because I think everyone who stuck around, everyone who held out waiting for the game to be popular, deserves to know what happened. I’m not an actual developer, so I will be missing a few things. I’ve had more than enough people from both Obsidian and My.com vent to me their grievances about nearly everything development-wise. I also don’t care about the NDA I never actually signed (I don’t think anyone was aware of that), I know my AW account will likely be nuked and the only thing that makes me said is the history that will go away with it.
Who To Blame
I’ve read a lot of misinformation that I couldn’t respond to over who was to blame for the game dying. The reality is everyone: MailRU, My.com, and Obsidian, some (MRG) more than others.
Obsidian (OEI): Obsidian failed to grab MailRU by the balls early on and say something along the lines of “We’re the developers, we’ve been in this industry longer than you could ever hope to be.” Now, I’m not saying that that’s what they should have done. MailRU pays good, Obsidian needed money badly. Standing up to them could have meant their contract was pulled early on. With Felix (Nakoomba) joining Obsidian, he was actually able to do that. It was, however, too late.
My.com (My): Despite what people think, My.com had very little to do with the failure of the game because they really didn’t have any control over the game. In fact, all you can really blame them for is shitty events and server crashes. I suppose they could have advertised a broken game and gotten us nowhere.
MailRU Group (MRG): Ah, here it is. The big one. How did I not see this coming, I played ArcheAge– I knew what they were capable of, and Obey reminded me numerous times of it. The rest of this post will be about how they ran this game into the ground because they simply lack the vision to see past the Russian market. They thrive on incomplete features and shitty knock off mechanics.
What Went Wrong
In order to understand everything that’s happened, we need a history of Armored Warfare’s development. It all started out with MailRU submitting bids to multiple companies to see who would be able to develop a tank game for them. Obsidian, short on cash and in need of a new challenge, took them up on it. They developed this magnificent plan for Armored Warfare– what could have been is not at all what we have today. In fact, I’m not even sure if you would have been able to call it a World of Tanks competitor as the games only had tanks in common.
So, what happened to that? It’s simple. MailRU said they wanted none of that, and they tasked Obsidian with making a “World of Tanks clone.” Yes, it was supposed to be as close to World of Tanks as they could get with modern tanks and without getting their asses sued off by Wargaming. Just look at the “Limited Technical Alpha” they had. It was clear to everyone that it was a World of Tanks clone and the backlash from it convinced MailRU that being basically a Chinese knock-off wasn’t going to cut it. So, they let Obsidian have a little more freedom- not much, it still had to feel like World of Tanks, but it didn’t have to be World of Tanks. This, right here, is where you can say Armored Warfare died. The day MailRU made it clear (privately clear, this was never public knowledge) that they only wanted a cut of the massive amounts of money Wargaming was raking in with World of Tanks.
It was more than that, however. MailRU never seemed to realize that they should have tailored the game towards the NA/EU markets. Going the WoT route when their NA population was already really poor was never going to work out, and given how much money the NA market spends you’d think that developing for them (and, by extension, EU) would be the priority. They weren’t, and MailRU chose Russia as the only market they cared about, to no ones surprise. This meant that instead of taking the time to have polished, well thought out features we got rushed, half baked features. Why? The Russians loved it. The terrible, terrible base system that was envisioned to be so much more was because MailRU was fine with the preview version that was introduced in Early Access, and decided it would be the final version.
My group and I wrote up 60 page documents (5 in total I believe) on this game detailing every little thing that needed tweaked, removed, or added. From our feedback documents alone we could have practically made our own tank game. We began feeling ignored as much of our feedback wasn’t bearing fruit in game, and that was when Obsidian finally cracked- they let us know that MailRU didn’t want it, they were happy with the shit state the game was in. In fact, MailRU wasn’t even aware of our existence (and they weren’t very happy about it afterwards- we aren’t Russian, after all).
Where We Are Now
I’ll clarify briefly since I’ve seen a lot of confusion- MailRU canceled Obsidian’s contract, Obsidian didn’t quit. They wanted to continue developing the game as far as I can tell.
At the beginning of the month, there were massive layoffs at My.com– one of which being Josh Morris (Jinxx71), the only person I would say was truly sane there (aside from the CMs, of course– you’ve been amazing, Freitag). He shared the same vision as Obsidian and in the end was let go for disagreeing with MailRU one too many times (note: I don’t know if this is the actual reason, I just know that he had made a lot of enemies at MailRU over time). They were replaced by people from MailRU itself. What we have come to know My.com as is no longer My.com, but rather a puppet of MailRU headed by Yuri Maslikov, the person quoted in the news post.
MailRU had already had a much larger development team than Obsidian was willing to admit (or even knew about). In fact, this whole time they have been working on Armored Warfare for Xbox One and PS4 (I’m going to get a lot of shit for mentioning its existence). I imagine that will be their main focus, and they might even release the game on Steam (the Steamworks framework has been in place for quite some time now, Obsidian has wanted very badly to put the game on Steam since the early access days). Ultimately, I don’t see the game going anywhere. MailRU is very shortsighted and their world view ends at the CIS regions borders.
My interest in this game from the very start was due to Obsidian. The first time I heard of it, I thought it was just a Chinese knockoff. When I heard Obsidian Entertainment was developing it, I signed up for the alpha immediately. With Obsidian out of the picture, I see no future for this game. My only hope is that Wargaming can learn from the many good things that this game got right and also see the many things this game got wrong. I’ll be waiting to see what game Wargaming Seattle announces in the future (hint: It’s not WoT 2.0 anymore).
Mizutayio: I myself and many other people also were involved with the project. Not as much as the author himself, but as an historical consultant. And i have to say, that development went really really slow. I have been involved for a couple of months now and you didn’t have to be a magician to see that this was going to happen. I’ll give the game maybe another 5-6 months untill is succumbs to russian bias. It’s really a shame, but many historians do consider leaving. I hope i’ll find more success in WoT 2.0 which i never thought i’d say.