Orphaned Warhammer Online

Thanks to Arkenor, over at Ark’s Ark, I learned that Games Workshop had sued Warhammer Alliance for mostly trademark issues.  First off, Games Workshop is not really the bad guy.    They have a very strong trademark with Warhammer, and with trademarks, if you don’t protect your ranch, the fences start to erode.  Disregarding whether Games Workshop is actually correct by law in its lawsuit, we can assume that Games Workshop believes that Warhammer Alliance is harming the strength and worth of the Warhammer trademark.

We can also assume that Games Workshop knew that by suing a proprietor of a community for Warhammer Online that it would be hurting the community, which in turn would very likely hurt the actual MMO.  Now, Games Workshop, of course, can choose in a timely fashion when to launch the lawsuit, and they did so not long after the whole billing fiasco with Warhammer Online, which according to some caused a not-insignificant decrease in subscriptions.  The bruises have barely healed, and now Games Workshop is opening up another wound.

So let’s get back to basics.  This lawsuit is aimed at protecting the whole Warhammer IP, but in doing so it will actually harm the Warhammer Online portion of the IP because the goodwill towards Warhammer Online will decrease.  I believe that big daddy Games Workshop’s position on the viability of baby Warhammer Online for the long run becomes pretty clear here.  Do I really need to spell it out any further?

a fool’s excuse for failure

14 thoughts on “Orphaned Warhammer Online”

  1. I agree with you here. This issue to me shows them looking at protecting the name and assets of the IP. While a detriment to the WO community, at this point the stance clearly shows that Games Workshop no longer feels WO as a plus to the IP. I really can’t blame them for that conclusion given that an article heading with Warhammer is becoming synonymous with bad news.

    Think I may have spelled it out further for you.. Whoops. :D

  2. GW recently did a very similar thing to boardgamegeek.com. They demanded that a ridiculous number of fan created additions to their games (mostly Space Hulk in this case) be removed from BGG. It created alot of animosity. There is defending your trademarks and then there is this. It’s the most boneheaded set of moves I’ve seen in awhile.

  3. Not that I don’t agree with your premise about Warhammer Online, but GW has a reputation for being overly litigious. The same lawyers that draft up C&D letters could also draft up a boilerplate license to grant a limited license to allow the fan material to exist. But, yeah, bleedingly obvious what the prevailing attitude is at the home office.

    Standard disclaimers apply: I’m not a lawyer, this isn’t legal advice, etc.

    1. I agree with both of you, but neither fact is sufficient to prove to my satisfaction that GW sat on this potential suit until they decided that the Warhammer Online community is no longer worth saving. The lawyers sometimes take a long time to find this sort of things (in part because sometimes the first guy actually trolling the net looking for them doesn’t think they’re bad) – I remember a story of a fanfilm that was in production for a pretty long time and didn’t get shut down until they were actually ready to launch.

      If anything, if GW thinks the community is going down in flames, you’d think they’d want to be cultivating good relations with the folks who are left, to try and bring them back over to the tabletop fold.

      1. Except that in this case Warhammer Alliance was “destroying the trademark” on inception. Laches is one defense in Curse’s favor… going to be interesting on that one.

  4. I would not go so far and just say Games Workshop are simply douches, they probably don’t care at all about harming their community.

  5. Just because Curse call it a “community” site doesn’t make it so. They are a commercial enterprise running those sites for profit – profit driven by other companies’ intellectual property and trademarks.

    > They demanded that a ridiculous number of fan created
    > additions to their games (mostly Space Hulk in this case) be
    > removed from BGG.

    Examples of their C&D letters are out there: they asked for infringing material to be removed. Rather than identifying specifics, BGG killed everything to be on the safe side.

    1. You have it backwards, it is a community… but a commercially-run community. Just because there is profit involved does not make it no longer a community… see all MMOs.

  6. Thanks for the linkage.

    Now, as an added bonus, it is even uglier this weekend. For a Friday night, I have found an almost 10k sub loss since the billing fiasco of several weeks ago, the newsletter discussion of the cross realms/same server (and fears of merges) for players.

    Now, this little doozy?

    Well, no wonder no one wants to play this weekend. And this will just enhance fears that the game is going down.

    Anyways, Sunday is always the best day to watch the numbers, and come Monday, we will know just how hard WAR Online was hit.


    1. Why would promoting all things GW change anything? Wouldn’t GW want more places to promote more of their products? My guess is that GW has a product in the pipeline they would like to call Warhammer Alliances or something like that.

      But please explain how this can be a positive for Warhammer Online, and I will duly edit my post to place the MMO in a more positive light.

      1. Why would GW care about EA/Mythic’s Warhammer Online? Honestly it’s a failboat that I’m sure they wish they’d never gotten involved in. Whether or not they wish to actively hurt WAR, they sure have no good reason to worry about *not* hurting it.

        I suspect the chronology goes something like this:

        1) Warhammer Alliance, a fan site dedicated to the WAR MMO comes out. It’s might skirt the edge of copyright/trademark issues, but it’s a not-for-profit fansite and not directly involved in GW’s bread and butter so no one cares.

        2) Warhammer Alliance is bought by Curse and becomes part of a for-profit enterprise. Now things get dicey as Warhammer Alliance/Curse is using IP they don’t own and are not paying for to make a profit. That’s a no-no, but since it’s still mostly a WAR MMO matter, and since EA/Mythic likely didn’t want any more problems then they already have, Curse gets away with it.

        3) Warhammer Alliance/Curse, knowing that WAR’s days are at best not very bright, and more likely numbered, decides they want to be the home of everything Warhammer. They’re still using images/IP they have no legal right to and are making a profit off of that, and now they’re threatening to step out of the “It’s all about WAR MMO” bubble and directly into GW’s bread and butter.

        Curse really has no legal defense here, and I’m sure they know it. A few fans (really, very few, Warhammer Alliance has been pretty dead for ages) will have a snit, GW’s bottom line will be affected not at all, WAR will take another hit that won’t much matter given the number of self-inflicted wounds, and life will go on.

        1. Dead on, Myria. This isn’t “positive” for Warhammer Online, but as you said, Games Workshop probably doesn’t care about whether Warhammer Online does well – they care about protecting their IP rights, which are being infringed by Curse’s status as a for-profit company profitting from Games Workshop’s IP.

          This is the problem that seems to plague so many fans of the site – the inability to discern what is happening legally. The fans and volunteer moderators/admins of the site continue to defend their status as a “fansite” when GW is not suing them specifically (since they are not profitting from the site), but Curse, who is profitting from the illegal use of Games Workshop’s IP.

          And thank you for stating this: “GW’s bottom line will be affected not at all, WAR will take another hit that won’t much matter given the number of self-inflicted wounds, and life will go on.”

  7. I’d like to note that when I went to curse.com yesterday to look at WAR addons, The WAR Addons tab was gone from the top of Curse’s homepage. I had to use the client and the curseforge site to do my browsing.

    Also, with the end of the xp/rp bonus in WAR, activity in tier 3 has slowed significantly. And guildmates and others I like very much in the game have been disappearing. I’ve reinstalled WoW and have been working on my Shadowpriest so my MMO eggs aren’t all in the WAR basket.

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