Total War: Warhammer, A War On Many Fronts - Games Weekly

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Total War: Warhammer, A War On Many Fronts

“Why did you not just call it Total Warhammer?” Of all the serious business questions we could have asked about Total War: Warhammer, the new collaboration between Creative Assembly and Games Workshop, this perhaps wasn’t the one to lead with. But we had to know.

Brand director Rob Bartholomew laughs: “For all branding purposes, and my own marketing self-validation, we had to call it Total War: Warhammer. But we won’t get too bent out of shape if everyone calls it Total Warhammer.”

Creative Assembly first discussed making a Warhammer game ten years ago. The studio is best known for creating historically accurate PC strategy games, and the Warhammer IP gave it the chance to try its hand at fantasy.

But it never had the resources to make it a reality. That was until recently, when Sega restructured its business around its studios and IP including Creative Assembly and Total War.

The studio’s headcount greatly increased. There are currently five Total War projects in development; as well as Warhammer, there is a team dedicated to downloadable content for the recent Total War: Attila, a group working on Total War Battles: Kingdom for tablets, a number of people developing the MOBA-esque Total War: Arena and another set currently in pre-production on the next big Total War title.

Before this year, there had only been ten Total War games and many of them are still played today; the six-year-old Empire: Total War remains a popular title, and hit 3m sales two weeks ago. It begs the question: do gamers even want this many new titles?

“It’s something we have to bear in mind, but we’ve not seen any evidence that we are saturating the market,” retorts Bartholomew.

“Previously there had been at least two years between major tentpole Total War games, and that will still be the case. It’s just on top of that we have a number of other side projects that will fill in the gaps between releases.”

So let’s take a look at those projects.
Total War: Warhammer is the first in a trilogy. Bartholomew explains that this will consist of three ‘massive’ standalone titles that can be connected together to create a ‘giant experience’.

“We will have to go a long way to mess this up,” he says. “Warhammer and Total War are both fantastic IPs that have been going for many years. There is a lot of stuff to like in that recipe, which I don’t think a lot of other Warhammer games have going for them. It’s a real marriage of IP.”

The next game is Total War: Arena, a sort-of-but-not-quite MOBA. There is a massive number of competitors in that market but Creative Assembly hopes Total War’s combination of authenticity and scale will set Arena apart.

Then there’s Total War Battles: Kingdom for mobile devices. The firm attempted to make games for smart devices before, but with a paid-for app. This time it’s trying the free-to-play business model (also present in Arena). This model has faced criticism from core gamers, and it’s something Bartholomew is well aware of.

We are mindful of not doing an injustice to the brand,” he says.
“Players should be able to play the game, enjoy it, and, if they pay some money, alter their experience, but they won’t get an advantage over people who haven’t paid.”

With these three titles, plus Attila DLC and an unannounced Total War game to come, there’s certainly plenty for the developer to be getting on with. Yet there is one area we’ve not covered: The console. Creative Assembly made a grand return to console in 2014 with Alien: Isolation, so could Total War also make the leap?

“We are waiting for the right opportunity and spending a bit of time prototyping here and there,” admits Bartholomew. “Strategy games on consoles is something that our designers think is a problem that can be solved.”

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