Games Workshop is a mystery to many. A company that began as a grassroots RPG and model company in the U.K. Now has become a global titan in gaming. Yet, everyone seems to think that Warhammer should be bigger than it actually is. Well in some cases this is true, but the story here is more about the company making a fantastic come back and growing its brands to be a global leader.
Warhammer took the hearts of gamers back in the 1980s. The wild artwork and unflinching monsters and heroes spoke of a much grittier medieval world. It was not your high fantasy D&D, more like, mud, gutters, and destructive spells. Because Warhammer transformed into a table top game with huge armies fighting each other, there is no clear “good guy.” Even the humans are viewed as villains in many stories. What Warhammer did was shape a fantasy world that gave life and truth to orcs, undead, and even the dark forces of chaos. Sounds familiar right?
The similarities between Warhammer and Warcraft are unending. If you talk to any of Blizzard’s top brass, especially former Creative Director Chris Metzen, they are all massive Warhammer players. In 1988 Warhammer took fantasy to the stars and created Warhammer 40,000. It is literally knights in space. This brand has grown to influence endless games in its wake. Halo, Starcraft, Destiny, and countless other games all have their roots in 40k.
So the big question is, how come everyone does not play some type of Warhammer game?
Well we could go into stories about the complex tabletop rules or the plug being pulled on Warhammer Online by EA, but we have told those stories before. Now, it is time to focus on how much Warhammer is coming to the RTS genre and making solid games. Total War: Warhammer has been a huge offering for fans and RTS players alike. The game has performed extremely well and continues with solid expansions.
The next big offering is Dawn of War III which goes into beta testing later this month. Dawn of War is essentially the video game version of table top 40K. Set in Warhammer 40,000’s rich universe there are tons of playable factions, battles, ideas, tanks, and ways to fight. The first two games in the series sold extremely well and are considered staples in the genre. I play a lot of table top so this is very exciting to see in the next few weeks.
Where Warhammer needs to make the leap is into other game genres. A few years ago, Space Marine was released by the now defunct THQ. The game did well, but not enough to save the whole publisher. The good news here is that Games Workshop is much more open to game companies using their licenses. So a lot of solid titles have come out on mobile or on PC which are set in these two vast universes. It still seems like AAA publishers are only willing to pick up Warhammer if it a proven game like Dawn of War.
Perhaps the success of the upcoming RTS will open more doors for Warhammer. The brand is one of the best in the world when it comes to fantasy and sci-fi, it is just that many people see it as the deep end of the pool for gamers. Here is hoping we will see more creative games launched in the Warhammer universe over the next few years.