Yesterday, Relic Entertainment announced they were withdrawing support from Dawn of War III. Due to poor reception and player retention, the game will no longer receive any sort of content update, and plans for DLC and the upcoming Necron faction were scrapped.
Speaking with fans afterwards, Communications Manager Benjamin Boudreau explained what the development team thought about the game's failure.
"We don't think anything was wrong with the players", said Boudreau. "Sure, they're tough on us but they like what they like and that's okay. Our challenge was complicated because DOW players are different than DOW2 players who are different than DOW3 players - each has different priorities, wants and needs."
By wants and needs, Ben refers to the fact DoW3 went in the exact opposite of its core audience's interests, turning the game into a MOBA. The game lost everything that made the first two games special, and instead focused on an "actions per minute" gameplay that replaced strategy with quick clicks.
"The root of the disconnect that we've focused on is iteration without player feedback", Boudreau explained. "One of the biggest risks in making games is that you don’t fully see how a title will really play and feel until you’ve hit a point where it’s difficult to switch gears. From where we're sitting, bringing that early and ongoing player validation into our process is a big priority so well-intentioned decisions don't go long without feedback."
When asked about what measurements Relic was looking at regarding Dawn of War III's success, Boudreau stated "Retention and sentiment were the two biggest measures we were watching most closely."
Given Dawn of War strong strategy roots, the attempt to pivot the series into an esport with fragile units alienated virtually all of its fans. According to SteamSpy, DoWIII currently has less than 500 players online at any one time.
Relic's misguided choice has been long documented, with fans declaring the game murdered the lore by making Space Marines squishy, while players denounced the removal of every strategy element in favour of an actions per minute system that favours muscle memory over real tactics. Turns out throwing lore and strategy out of the window and hoping fans buy the game anyway was a bad call -- the game broke before the guard did.
It is sad to see that this once great strategy studio fallen so far out of its path, and even more worrisome that this current course has been in place ever since Company of Heroes 2 came out. Given they are the behind the next Age of Empires instalment, fans should be very wary of whatever's coming next from Relic.