World of Warcraft Could Have Been World of Warhammer

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World of Warcraft Could Have Been World of Warhammer

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A marketing decision by Blizzard almost changed the fate of several genres.

It's no secret that Blizzard's colossal Warcraft franchise was heavily inspired by Warhammer, the tabletop wargame created by Games Workshop. A number of ideas from Warhammer have spread to other fantasy settings (green-skinned orcs, anyone?) but the number of similarities between it and Blizzard's fantasy universe borders on the uncanny. As it turns out, this is no coincidence - Blizzard very nearly made a licensed Warhammer game instead of starting its own IP.

"[Blizzard co-founder] Allen Adham hoped to obtain a license to the Warhammer universe to try to increase sales by brand recognition," said Warcraft producer Patrick Wyatt. "Warhammer was a huge inspiration for the art-style of Warcraft, but a combination of factors, including a lack of traction on business terms and a fervent desire on the part of virtually everyone else on the development team (myself included) to control our own universe nixed any potential for a deal. We had already had terrible experiences working with DC Comics on Death and Return of Superman and Justice League Task Force, and wanted no similar issues for our new game."

The developers' concerns may have been valid. While Warcraft's original plot was pretty simplistic, part of the series' continued success comes from its rapidly evolving lore. That probably wouldn't have been possible without the developers having full creative license with the setting they created. "It's surprising now to think what might have happened had Blizzard not controlled the intellectual property rights for the Warcraft universe," Wyatt said. "It's highly unlikely Blizzard would be such a dominant player in the game industry today."

Could a simple change of setting really have crippled a company that would later become a titan of the industry? Well, yes. Without total control of its flagship series, Blizzard might not have found the success it did with its line of real-time strategy games. Ignoring the impact that those games had on the RTS genre, even Warcraft spinoffs went on to change the gaming landscape. Forget World of Warcraft; turning a strategy game into a rich RPG wouldn't have been possible without Blizzard's substantial resources from their earlier successes. Lacking WoW's popularity and the rush of MMOs that followed, online gaming would certainly look a lot different. And without Warcraft III, the MOBA genre may never have gotten off the ground (meaning no DotA and no League of Legends).

So maybe the failure to work things out with Games Workshop wasn't such a bad thing. Still, the similarities remain as a reminder of what could have been - leading to more than a few mix-ups later on. "Years after the launch of Warcraft," said Wyatt, "my dad, upon returning from a trip to Asia, gave me a present of a set of Warhammer miniatures in the form of a skeleton charioteer and horses with the comment: 'I found these cool toys on my trip and they reminded me a lot of your game; you might want to have your legal department contact them because I think they're ripping you off.'"

Source: Kotaku

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Warhammer started the "Orcs are green" trend? Huh, the more you know I suppose.

Somewhere out there the head of GW is probably facepalming and going "What was I thinking?!" to himself...

But yeah there's always been little references to this fact in the Warcraft games (The Gryphon Rider cracks a joke about his Warhammer costing 40k if you click him enough)

The Warhammer universe is an order of magnitude more interesting and well developed than the rip-off. Not to mention 40,000K. A shame how it all turned out.

I thought this was pretty much common knowledge.
I mean the 2008 Warcraft Retrospective video already mentioned this.

Don't get me wrong, nice read, but what's next, Super Mario Bros. 2 started out as a different game?

How is this a news story? Its pretty much old news that originally warcraft wanted to be a warhammer game and that starcraft started out a 40k game.

Aeshi:
Somewhere out there the head of GW is probably facepalming and going "What was I thinking?!" to himself...

I guess you could say it was really... Tauren him apart?

I'm pretty sure that a similar thing happened with Starcraft as well. It was originally going to be Warcraft in space. But then went in a different direction becuase of worries that the game would be mistaken for a Warhammer 40k RTS.

Anyway I think this was a pretty big missed opportunity.

Sadly, though this should be common knowledge, you have the WoW Kiddies and even many adults, I mean heck the story even brings up how people don't think past face value with the buying a Warhammer model and saying its a rip-off. Sadly though this is a Blizzard co-founder, people will still say Warhammer ripped off WoW, and Warhammer Space Marine was a Gears of War rip-off and blah blah blarg...

Though Starcraft was a rather shameless rip-off of 40k after they couldn't work the deal for Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. Hell even Diablo could be considered a rip-off of Warhammer Fantasy RP, or the exploits of the Templar Knights of Sigmar.

this is pretty much common knowledge, though the bit at the end was cute

It's fine, they eventually converged.

Blizzard-Activision went on to make (mostly) quality games and screw its customers in favor of money.
Games Workshop went on to make (mostly) quality models and screw its customers in favor of money.

Going public does that to a company...

Lenny Magic:
I'm pretty sure that a similar thing happened with Starcraft as well. It was originally going to be Warcraft in space. But then went in a different direction becuase of worries that the game would be mistaken for a Warhammer 40k RTS.

Anyway I think this was a pretty big missed opportunity.

starcraft was gonna be the warhammer 40k rts, but blizz didnt cut a decent deal with GW, so they just....inspired themselves on 40k. it is common knowledge, despite what idiots these days will tell you.

This is news?

I was pretty sure this was common knowledge going back to the early days of Warcraft II...

Oh and Warhammer is much much deeper then Warcraft... and a hell of a lot funnier (it and 40k are parodies of their genres, no matter how seriously some fans take it)

Cognimancer:
"It's highly unlikely Blizzard would be such a dominant player in the game industry today."

Could a simple change of setting really have crippled a company that would later become a titan of the industry?

There's a lot more degrees of success than "dominant player" and "crippled". I think he was more saying that if they had gone with Warhammer, that Blizzard would be one of those off-shoot developers that does well for itself, but that no one really pays attention to.

tkioz:
This is news?

I was pretty sure this was common knowledge going back to the early days of Warcraft II...

Oh and Warhammer is much much deeper then Warcraft... and a hell of a lot funnier (it and 40k are parodies of their genres, no matter how seriously some fans take it)

Worgen:
How is this a news story? Its pretty much old news that originally warcraft wanted to be a warhammer game and that starcraft started out a 40k game.

I don't know about your guys' web browsers, but mine has this handy little "Back" button for news stories I don't really give a fuck about. If you don't care, just move the fuck on. We don't need to hear from the "Is this news" brigade on EVERY FUCKING NEWS POST because every news post isn't news-worthy to someone.

Shut up. Move on. No one is obligating you to read about and post on every article.

tkioz:
This is news?

I was pretty sure this was common knowledge going back to the early days of Warcraft II...

Oh and Warhammer is much much deeper then Warcraft... and a hell of a lot funnier (it and 40k are parodies of their genres, no matter how seriously some fans take it)

I wouldnt necesary say Parodies.... theres to much grim and "serious" stuff in it. Sure theres alot of humor also, (skaven or orcs) but then you have races like dark elfs or high elfs or the undead where there is little to no humor involved. (Actually all the elfs are pretty humor resistant.. go figure)

Warhammer and 40k also have alot of tragic stories in it... something that doesnt go well with a parody... atleast i have never heard about a tragic parody....

Also for a complete parody the warhammer lore makes to much sense... unlike the WoW universe where aparantly you have high magic concepts thrown together with steampunk and space traveling blue goat hoofed aliens and aparantly walking talking kung fu pandas... I mean they can have space ships and aparantly guns but are still fighting with melee weapons? Huh?

I would rather say that WoW is the one being the parody here and not Warhammer and 40k.

Warhammer is fantasy with humor...

And WoW seems to be headed Humor with fantasy... i mean.. kung fu pandas? Really?

WhiteTigerShiro:

Cognimancer:
"It's highly unlikely Blizzard would be such a dominant player in the game industry today."

Could a simple change of setting really have crippled a company that would later become a titan of the industry?

There's a lot more degrees of success than "dominant player" and "crippled". I think he was more saying that if they had gone with Warhammer, that Blizzard would be one of those off-shoot developers that does well for itself, but that no one really pays attention to.

tkioz:
This is news?

I was pretty sure this was common knowledge going back to the early days of Warcraft II...

Oh and Warhammer is much much deeper then Warcraft... and a hell of a lot funnier (it and 40k are parodies of their genres, no matter how seriously some fans take it)

Worgen:
How is this a news story? Its pretty much old news that originally warcraft wanted to be a warhammer game and that starcraft started out a 40k game.

I don't know about your guys' web browsers, but mine has this handy little "Back" button for news stories I don't really give a fuck about. If you don't care, just move the fuck on. We don't need to hear from the "Is this news" brigade on EVERY FUCKING NEWS POST because every news post isn't news-worthy to someone.

Shut up. Move on. No one is obligating you to read about and post on every article.

Because I would like to see more game news on this site, compared to a site like destructoid or even gamespot the amount of game news on here tents to be rather lacking.

WhiteTigerShiro:
I don't know about your guys' web browsers, but mine has this handy little "Back" button for news stories I don't really give a fuck about. If you don't care, just move the fuck on. We don't need to hear from the "Is this news" brigade on EVERY FUCKING NEWS POST because every news post isn't news-worthy to someone.

Shut up. Move on. No one is obligating you to read about and post on every article.

So we shouldn't call out someone posting up a news story about something that's not only incredibly old, but been discussed countless times in other media, as well as being blatantly obvious to anyone who knows the two franchises.

No, sorry. I will call bullshit for any news article I find worthless or factually incorrect. A quick Google search can give you the exact information in the article. You don't need this clogging up the 'breaking news' column.

I mean really... shouldn't this site already know better than to throw up information that Kotaku thinks is breaking news? Shame on you.

A World of Warhammer title definitely wouldn't have seen the number of content expansions WoW has because no one would be able to get past the greatest raid boss of all: GW's reluctance to move the plot forward

Slow news day Escapist?

Worgen:
How is this a news story? Its pretty much old news that originally warcraft wanted to be a warhammer game and that starcraft started out a 40k game.

^ Pretty much. Didn't Blizzard even give a shout out of thanks to Games Workshop in the end credits of StarCraft 1? I vaguely recall that.

Article:
And without Warcraft III, the MOBA genre may never have gotten off the ground (meaning no DotA and no League of Legends).

For the record, the original WC3 DotA map was based off of a StarCraft map. It is quite possible that we would've seen MOBA develop without Warcraft 3, though that's supposition on my part.

/Love Warcraft 3. Still an amazing RTS.

I thought GW's main contribution was the creation of armor with shoulder pads big enough to cover a small car rather than any substantial contribution to the lore of fantasy. That, and tanks covered with more guns than an NRA convention.

irishda:
A World of Warhammer title definitely wouldn't have seen the number of content expansions WoW has because no one would be able to get past the greatest raid boss of all: GW's reluctance to move the plot forward

What version of WoW have you been playing?

Blizzard refuses to let their world be changed in any substantial way, recycling characters and bosses in lieu of creating new content.

Hm. The picture of the news story features WH40k. I would've played WoWH40k, I think. Not regular WH, though. I prefer the dark scifi setting.

Worgen:
How is this a news story? Its pretty much old news that originally warcraft wanted to be a warhammer game and that starcraft started out a 40k game.

I was just about to point this out. This has been out there for years. It's not new(s). And this is not based on speculation, I remember reading articles on this.

Clearing the Eye:
The Warhammer universe is an order of magnitude more interesting and well developed than the rip-off. Not to mention 40,000K. A shame how it all turned out.

Nope.

See, there's a lot more lore with the Warhammer universe(Both 40k and not). But the problem is that there's almost a complete lack of a connecting story line; all that there is is just a series of stories of the various factions at play fighting one another with no real context to just how important one planet or sector or whatever really is. The fact is Warcraft simply wins out not by having better characters. (Though it's not hard to have a deeper character than space marine number 251027b) or having a more complex lore to base it all on. It's the fact that there's actually a consistent set of characters playing out their roles in an established plot, making it easier to feel invested in their goings on.

One battle between space marines and orks is completely interchangeable with another, but anyone who remembers Warcraft three fondly can probably tell you every critical moment in the story and the order in which they happened.

Devoneaux:

Clearing the Eye:
The Warhammer universe is an order of magnitude more interesting and well developed than the rip-off. Not to mention 40,000K. A shame how it all turned out.

Nope.

See, there's a lot more lore with the Warhammer universe(Both 40k and not). But the problem is that there's almost a complete lack of a connecting story line; all that there is is just a series of stories of the various factions at play fighting one another with no real context to just how important one planet or sector or whatever really is. The fact is Warcraft simply wins out not by having better characters. (Though it's not hard to have a deeper character than space marine number 251027b) or having a more complex lore to base it all on. It's the fact that there's actually a consistent set of characters playing out their roles in an established plot, making it easier to feel invested in their goings on.

One battle between space marines and orks is completely interchangeable with another, but anyone who remembers Warcraft three fondly can probably tell you every critical moment in the story and the order in which they happened.

You're looking at it the wrong way, sorry. Warcraft (largely) takes place on one planet. Warhammer 40000 takes place in an entire universe and there's thousands of histories for each planet. Wanna know why a large portion of Space Marines went rogue and tried to kill the Emperor of Man? There's thousands of years of detailed lore leading up to it, from the birth of the Eldar species, their migrations, their rise and their fall, ultimately creating various gods at different times through a mixture of telepathy and reckless emotion. A dozen books and about thirty thousand years later, the Eldar fucked themselves up and the Gods they made convinced a few Marines to convert their brothers.

Pick any planet and it'll have years of history that directly relate to those around it and the universe on a whole. They've all seen campaigns from Orks and Tyranids, to Necron and Dark Eldar. Each battle pushes a faction in different directions and has massive fallout. If, for example, the Blood Angels hand't been the first to respond during the Horus Heresy battle, Sanguinius wouldn't have died and they'd not suffer the blood curse that causes them to hunt Cypher like a dog and he'd be able to return to Terra, give the sword back and possibly restore some of humanity's strength. All those events are covered in the books and they all take place over entire galaxies, with every race intertwined.

Oh and the Space Marines are 99% faceless war machines because they are all clones of The Emperor of Mankind. They aren't joking when they say "In the grim darkness of the future, there is only war." Terra (Earth) is basically the last holdout of the human species and every person left alive is a warrior. They don't stop to procreate :P The more notable Marines are usually the direct clones, while the rest are copies of them, etc.

Blizzard, you failed. You could've made one of the greatest games of all time and instead you made Warcraft.

Well at least I can still dream of a W40K MMO

Clearing the Eye:

Devoneaux:

Clearing the Eye:
The Warhammer universe is an order of magnitude more interesting and well developed than the rip-off. Not to mention 40,000K. A shame how it all turned out.

Nope.

See, there's a lot more lore with the Warhammer universe(Both 40k and not). But the problem is that there's almost a complete lack of a connecting story line; all that there is is just a series of stories of the various factions at play fighting one another with no real context to just how important one planet or sector or whatever really is. The fact is Warcraft simply wins out not by having better characters. (Though it's not hard to have a deeper character than space marine number 251027b) or having a more complex lore to base it all on. It's the fact that there's actually a consistent set of characters playing out their roles in an established plot, making it easier to feel invested in their goings on.

One battle between space marines and orks is completely interchangeable with another, but anyone who remembers Warcraft three fondly can probably tell you every critical moment in the story and the order in which they happened.

You're looking at it the wrong way, sorry. Warcraft (largely) takes place on one planet. Warhammer 40000 takes place in an entire universe and there's thousands of histories for each planet. Wanna know why a large portion of Space Marines went rogue and tried to kill the Emperor of Man? There's thousands of years of detailed lore leading up to it, from the birth of the Eldar species, their migrations, their rise and their fall, ultimately creating various gods at different times through a mixture of telepathy and reckless emotion. A dozen books and about thirty thousand years later, the Eldar fucked themselves up and the Gods they made convinced a few Marines to convert their brothers.

Pick any planet and it'll have years of history that directly relate to those around it and the universe on a whole. They've all seen campaigns from Orks and Tyranids, to Necron and Dark Eldar. Each battle pushes a faction in different directions and has massive fallout. If, for example, the Blood Angels hand't been the first to respond during the Horus Heresy battle, Sanguinius wouldn't have died and they'd not suffer the blood curse that causes them to hunt Cypher like a dog and he'd be able to return to Terra, give the sword back and possibly restore some of humanity's strength. All those events are covered in the books and they all take place over entire galaxies, with every race intertwined.

Oh and the Space Marines are 99% faceless war machines because they are all clones of The Emperor of Mankind. They aren't joking when they say "In the grim darkness of the future, there is only war." Terra (Earth) is basically the last holdout of the human species and every person left alive is a warrior. They don't stop to procreate :P The more notable Marines are usually the direct clones, while the rest are copies of them, etc.

I am familiar with Horus, The Emperor and all that garbage about how he was the offspring of some stupid shaman tribe, you're missing the point entirely. I know Space marines are all clones. So what? That does nothing to change the fact that they all might as well just be robots. They're all just two dimensional brain washed grunts with no purpose other than to kill shit, almost completely devoid of any amount of personality or individuality. Fuck the Geth show more individuality than these guys.

On to my second point: I am aware that there's a thousand planets each with it's own back story. Again, so what? How does taking and holding one planet help to bring the war closer to an end? It doesn't, because the creators have zero intention of the endless war ending ever, making each battle utterly pointless and kinda boring, since you just know that the battle you're seeing or reading about is just one of dozens happening at any given point.

You see, Warhammer isn't about story, the story is only there to give context to what is otherwise just mindless excessive violence about meatheaded spess mahreens fighting off dah ork hordez in the name of teh emprah.

Edit: Also, i'm not saying that's a bad thing, but you must understand, Warhammer's story isn't it's strong point, and it's not supposed to be, Warcraft, while kinda basic and shallow, has characters with motivations beyond "Because the man on the golden throne says it must be so!/The gods of chaos demand it!" and those characters eventually grow and change for better or worse. That's what makes it a story, where as Warhammer merely has a setting.

Edit MKII: Also, Warcraft has an actual ending to it..Kinda.

Zulnam:

Worgen:
How is this a news story? Its pretty much old news that originally warcraft wanted to be a warhammer game and that starcraft started out a 40k game.

I was just about to point this out. This has been out there for years. It's not new(s). And this is not based on speculation, I remember reading articles on this.

I'm actually pretty sure we already had some stories on this site that said as much too.

Evil Alpaca:

irishda:
A World of Warhammer title definitely wouldn't have seen the number of content expansions WoW has because no one would be able to get past the greatest raid boss of all: GW's reluctance to move the plot forward

What version of WoW have you been playing?

Blizzard refuses to let their world be changed in any substantial way, recycling characters and bosses in lieu of creating new content.

What version of WoW have YOU been playing? They completely redid Azeroth with Cataclysm.

Clearing the Eye:

Oh and the Space Marines are 99% faceless war machines because they are all clones of The Emperor of Mankind.

What. I admit I haven't really read much of the War40K lore, but I did read the Space Wolf books and played the Dawn of War games. Unless something changed since those, they acquired their Space Marines from homeworlds. The Space Wolves recruited warriors from what amounted to Viking-era villages, longboats and all.

How are they clones if they recruit from that? :|

WhiteTigerShiro:

Cognimancer:
"It's highly unlikely Blizzard would be such a dominant player in the game industry today."

Could a simple change of setting really have crippled a company that would later become a titan of the industry?

There's a lot more degrees of success than "dominant player" and "crippled". I think he was more saying that if they had gone with Warhammer, that Blizzard would be one of those off-shoot developers that does well for itself, but that no one really pays attention to.

tkioz:
This is news?

I was pretty sure this was common knowledge going back to the early days of Warcraft II...

Oh and Warhammer is much much deeper then Warcraft... and a hell of a lot funnier (it and 40k are parodies of their genres, no matter how seriously some fans take it)

Worgen:
How is this a news story? Its pretty much old news that originally warcraft wanted to be a warhammer game and that starcraft started out a 40k game.

I don't know about your guys' web browsers, but mine has this handy little "Back" button for news stories I don't really give a fuck about. If you don't care, just move the fuck on. We don't need to hear from the "Is this news" brigade on EVERY FUCKING NEWS POST because every news post isn't news-worthy to someone.

Shut up. Move on. No one is obligating you to read about and post on every article.

but snippy arent you, i agree up to some point when they come out with a newsstory from earlier in the week, but this isnt news, this is widely known stuff from 10 years ago

Ranorak:
I thought this was pretty much common knowledge.
I mean the 2008 Warcraft Retrospective video already mentioned this.

Don't get me wrong, nice read, but what's next, Super Mario Bros. 2 started out as a different game?

My thoughts as well. I thought almost everyone knew this. It's like gaming folklore. I mean there's slow on the draw, and there's "Warcraft 2 released in 1995 and people were talking about this back then".

This has been old news in Warhammer circles for a LONG time. however the more people that know blizzard borrowed a lot from Warhammer and 40K the better.

Amnestic:

Evil Alpaca:

irishda:
A World of Warhammer title definitely wouldn't have seen the number of content expansions WoW has because no one would be able to get past the greatest raid boss of all: GW's reluctance to move the plot forward

What version of WoW have you been playing?

Blizzard refuses to let their world be changed in any substantial way, recycling characters and bosses in lieu of creating new content.

What version of WoW have YOU been playing? They completely redid Azeroth with Cataclysm.

Clearing the Eye:

Oh and the Space Marines are 99% faceless war machines because they are all clones of The Emperor of Mankind.

What. I admit I haven't really read much of the War40K lore, but I did read the Space Wolf books and played the Dawn of War games. Unless something changed since those, they acquired their Space Marines from homeworlds. The Space Wolves recruited warriors from what amounted to Viking-era villages, longboats and all.

How are they clones if they recruit from that? :|

Space Marines aren't actually clones. They are pre pubescent males who are then put through a rigorous series of training and implanted with superior organs. The reason they look so similar is due to the Gene Seed organ which changes the body's genetic code slightly to allow it to cope with the third lung and the extra heart and so on and so forth.

Clearing the Eye:
All the Snip.

If they don't procreate then how do you explain the Imperial Guard? Hoards of unaugmented humans armed with what amounts to a laser pointed and a cardboard jacket?

DVS BSTrD:

Aeshi:
Somewhere out there the head of GW is probably facepalming and going "What was I thinking?!" to himself...

I guess you could say it was really... Tauren him apart?

There you go!

OT: Well... I wouldn't call it a ripoff, as basicly any fantasy now adays is just colateral from Lord of the Rings.

But... good to know?

[shrugs] yeah this has been known for ages. And anyway, if warcraft had bought in lizardmen or skaven instead of pandas... might have been tempted to go back.

Amnestic:

Evil Alpaca:

irishda:
A World of Warhammer title definitely wouldn't have seen the number of content expansions WoW has because no one would be able to get past the greatest raid boss of all: GW's reluctance to move the plot forward

What version of WoW have you been playing?

Blizzard refuses to let their world be changed in any substantial way, recycling characters and bosses in lieu of creating new content.

What version of WoW have YOU been playing? They completely redid Azeroth with Cataclysm.

Azeroth may have been redone but not that many of the end game bosses. You still fight Raganaros and Nefarian, Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman.

Cataclysm did revamp many of the leveling zones, but the end game content felt recycled. Same with the new PvP. The new battlegrounds were just Arathi basin and Warsong Gulch with 10 and 15 player caps. Shadowfang Keep seemed like a decent job of reusing previous source material. You weren't fighting the same bosses nor were the boss fights similar to the replaced one.

As for Space Marines; You're right, they're not clones. They are selected youths who are implanted with the gene seed which is derived from primarchs which are themselves derived from the Emperor. Hence why certain space Marine chapters like the Space Wolves have different senses than the Blood Angels.

The other half of what the original Warcraft was came from Dune II.
blizzard doesn't really do originality, what it does is polish.

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