Happy 17th birthday, Anarchy Online! Seventeen years ago this month, Funcom first stepped out onto the MMORPG scene and “launched” this sci-fi title. We are legally obligated to put that into quotes, because it wasn’t so much of a game launch as a mockery of all that was good and pure in the world. Fortunately, the disastrous start eventually gave way to a solid and engaging title that endures to this day.
Anarchy Online is days away from throwing its anniversary event, which will take place from June 26th through July 19th. While there aren’t any specifics out on the event quite yet, you can take a look at last year’s anniversary details to get an idea of what is probably coming.
And if you’re feeling all nostalgic, why not indulge some more by reading our Game Archaeologist retrospective of this game?
A year ago, MMO fans were thrilled to find out that Funcom had had its best quarter in ages thanks to the early access launch of Conan Exiles. The first quarter of 2018 wasn’t quite as huge, but you can be sure next quarter will be, as Funcom says it’s already sold 1.4M copies of the game, a million of those before May 8th – which Funcom notes is as many as Age of Conan sold in its first three years of life, making it Funcom’s “bestselling game of all time.” It’s expected to launch on PS4 in Japan this summer, alongside the game’s first DLC in June.
Age of Conan, by the way, gets a note for its Saga of Zath progression server that ran throughout winter and spring; the studio says it was “successful in engaging players and increasing revenue.” Little ink is spilled over Secret World Legends beyond a note about Dawn of the Morninglight and a promise for “more content and events […] going forward.” Anarchy Online is not mentioned.
From 1994’s A Dinosaur’s Tale to 2018’s Mutant Year Zero, Funcom has blazed its own path through the video game genre as a developer and publisher of all sorts of titles. These, of course, include some of MMORPG fans’ most beloved games, such as Anarchy Online, Age of Conan, and The Secret World.
To celebrate the studio’s 25th anniversary, Funcom put together a quick video that takes players from the 16-bit console generation to the modern day, showing off its various logos and a montage of its games.
“Since those humble beginnings back in March of 1993, we’ve released over twenty-five games across a wide range of platforms,” Funcom said. “We’ve survived major shifts in the gaming industry and we’ve had to adapt to an ever-changing market. We’ve had our ups and we’ve had our downs. We’ve weathered many storms and we’ve earned our battle-scars.”
The journey starts below. What are you waiting for?
With significantly higher revenue and sales coming in 2017, Funcom announced to its investors that it just came off the most profitable year in the studio’s history. The studio made $23.2M in revenue and $6.64M in profit during the period, a massive increase over 2016, during which it only made $7.3M in revenue. Even better, Funcom said that it has significantly reduced its debt and strengthened its position.
As for its games, Funcom said that Secret World Legends’ new story content is coming in the first quarter and is expected to bring back players and push user acquisition. Conan Exiles’ May launch is a source of particular excitement, and Funcom is planning on several marketing initiatives to push sales. Anarchy Online and Age of Conan were not mentioned in the report.
Of course, the studio is particularly excited about today’s announcement of its publishing Mutant Year Zero.
It’s been a big week for the supposedly-in-maintenance-mode Age of Conan: First it got a new time-limited progression server, then it lowered its sub fees and loyalty rewards for subbers, and now it’s gotten new forums.
“With the new start of the Saga Server we also want new beginnings of fresh and modern forums; it will seem pretty different from what you’re used to here, but these new forums offer a much better community experience. You’re able to keep better track of threads you are interested in and follow, personalize your profile, give feedback to comments, and have easy access to news and updates. It also includes a trust system; the more active or helpful you are in the community, the higher your trust level increases, allowing you access to more features.”
Worth noting is that old comments have not been ported over, but the old forum is still open until February 14th, at which point posts there will be archived (but still viewable).
I am a generally big fan of the cyberpunk genre, especially when it works in a healthy dose of ’80s aesthetics for that clunky, neon flair. But when it comes to MMORPGs, good cyberpunk titles are extremely few and far between.
I think we have a bit of it in Neocron and Anarchy Online, and of course The Matrix Online was jacked into cyberpunk back when it was running. Now a-days there is a lot of excitement over CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, although we know very little about it other than it’ll have some sort of online functionality.
Are we due for a good cyberpunk MMO? Do you think that there’s a good audience out there for it and that it would appeal to a great number of gamers? For a bonus question, what would you like to see included in such a title?
Alien, quiet, and weird — that’s the Anarchy Online soundtrack for you in a nutshell. For the first episode of 2018, the ever-contentious Battle Bards are back to quibble about, gush over, and nitpick the score to one of the older sci-fi MMOs on the market today.
Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Player.FM.
Listen to Episode 113: Anarchy Online (or download it) now:
This is, bar none, the column I hate doing most on a regular basis. None of the games I highlight in here is something that I actually like pointing to; they’re games that people like, games that may very well be someone’s absolute favorites, and yet they’re also games where the future looks difficult if not outright bad. A cloudy future is never a good thing, and this particular column does not make it all right.
But we’re still here in the early days of 2018, and that means it’s still the right time to look at the games we might not see around next year. For various reasons, these are the games that already look like they’re in trouble, instead of absolute face-shattering surprises like a couple of the shutdowns last year.
It’s the distant future. The high-tech battle armor you wear sharply contrasts with the ruins of civilization that you traverse. You spot an enemy and raise your pulse rifle, firing off shots as you strafe to cover. Technology hasn’t solved the issue of war; it’s just raised the body count.
PlanetSide 2? Nope — this is Neocron, the quite-forgettable MMOFPS from the way-back era. I like to call it “that game with the most regrettable cover art in the history of video games,” but that isn’t quite as snappy.
Going into this article, I have to admit that I previously knew absolutely nothing about Neocron other than the fact that it was a sci-fi MMO that vaguely reminded me of Anarchy Online. Oh, also the fact that nobody I know or perhaps ever will know played it. Was it just a myth? A practical joke to make us believe in an MMO phantom? Only sifting through layers of dust and grime would produce results, so I rolled up my sleeves and started digging.
When we moved over here to Massively Overpowered, some of us transplanted our long-running columns to the new space. I perhaps felt most devastated that I was going to lose all of the Game Archaeologist articles that I had painstakingly researched over the years. So my mission with this space became two-fold: to rescue and update my older columns while continuing to add more articles to this series on classic MMOs and proto-MMOs.
I’ve been pleased with the results so far because TGA is a series that I really don’t want to see vanish. As MMORPG fans, we should consider it important to remember and learn about these older titles and to expand our knowledge past the more popular and well-known games of yesteryear.
Now that we have quite a catalogue of Game Archaeologist columns, I thought it would be helpful to end the year by gifting this handy guide to you that organizes and compiles our continuing look at the history of the genre. Enjoy!
So much for maintenance mode: It appears that Funcom has plans yet for Age of Conan, if the studio’s email to players and post on the official forums this afternoon are any judge. Looks like you’re getting a fresh start temporary challenge/progression server called a “saga server” next year.
“In early 2018, we will be introducing a saga server to Age of Conan. A saga server is a unique server that is live for a limited period of time and comes with unique rewards for completing objectives. All players will start with a fresh, new character that will be transferred to Crom after the saga server’s live period ends, along with any earned rewards. Players will be able to claim rewards on a single character of their choosing. We’ll be releasing more details as the launch date draws closer. Until then, get ready for the Saga of Zath – launching in early 2018!”
There’s nothing on the Anarchy Online forums yet to match, though earlier this week the studio put out feelers for the idea on Facebook.
Sometimes all it takes to light a fire under a gaming community is a simple poll.
Funcom sparked a bonfire of interest by asking fans on Facebook the following: “Would you be interested in a fresh start server for Anarchy Online?” As you may imagine, this raised quite a few eyebrows, because the studio has all but abandoned Anarchy Online in 2017 after putting it in maintenance mode and vastly cutting down on any communication with players.
In any case, the community seems somewhat in favor of the idea, although some have questions about what this would entitle (especially in light of Secret World Legends’ reboot). “I would be interested in literally anything that showed a hint of supporting the game, so yeah,” said one player. “Someone from Funcom please enlighten me as to why this is a good idea all of the sudden?” asked another.
Just because an MMORPG’s development has been put into suspended animation doesn’t mean that profit still can’t be made! To wit, check out Funcom’s can-do spirit, which doesn’t take “maintenance mode” for an answer when it comes to holiday sales.
For whatever reason, the studio is holding a sale on Funcom Points for both Anarchy Online and Age of Conan. These titles, you might recall, joined the original Secret World earlier this year in having their active development canceled while nominally keeping the servers running.
Anyway, both games are throwing in bonus points when you buy certain tiers of bundles. Additionally, Anarchy Online has a luxury armor set that it would like to sell you as part of a multi-month membership package.