In February 2015, following the SOE/Daybreak transition and ensuing mass layoffs, we polled our readers on the security of the rest of the studio's games. Almost half of you voted that Dragon's Prophet was the studio's most vulnerable remaining game, with almost 20% pointing to EverQuest Next. And you were right; SOE's North American-run Dragon's Prophet was gone within the year, with EverQuest Next to follow just a few months later.
And now Landmark's headed off into the sunset.
The thing is, Daybreak doesn't really have much left. The company that once won "best studio" four years in a row and had a much-deserved reputation for keeping beloved MMORPGs going is now down to four MMORPGs, plus H1Z1 A and B, and one unannounced game, plus the games it's publishing for Standing Stone. Yesterday we counted up the casualties and found Daybreak has now shut down approximately 16 games, most of them in the last few years -- more than most studios will ever launch.
Let's break out the poll for a revisit, two years on. Which Daybreak MMO do you think is most vulnerable now?
In light of this past week's sad Landmark news, it's perhaps too on-the-nose that I asked for players to send in pictures of defunct MMOs. Maybe it's just one of those sober reminders that sooner or later, these games will go dark. Enjoy them to their fullest now!
"To prove I can actually be on topic sometimes, I answer your call for shots from defunct MMOs with one from Dragon's Prophet," Tyler said, "the only game I've played that has shut down. There was a great deal wrong with this game, and I didn't play it for long, but there was still a lot about it that was surprisingly good. In particular I loved the unusual, battle mage-like Oracle class. Who wants to stand in the back waving your hands when your mage can charge into the thick of things and massacre everyone with a giant enchanted scythe?"
After a brief headstart earlier this week, Guardians of Ember is live on Steam now in early access with a current on-sale base price of $16.99. Developed by European MMORPG studio Runewaker (which you might remember from Runes of Magic and Dragon's Prophet), the game is a hack-'n'-slash MMO expected to remain in early access for up to half a year before launch.
"Heroes all over the world gather today to save Olyndale from dark forces. Ater two technical tests the servers for ‘Guardians of Ember’, the unique combination of Hack’n’Slash and MMORPG, are live. [...] The game offers 4 races, 6 classes (one post launch) and 300 skills with the developer’s known 'Dual Class System.' The action packed combat is complemented by randomized dungeons, housing system and various PvP options."
Also worth pointing out is that the game ran a small ($10,000) Indiegogo campaign for German localization but actually secured $77,000 and put the extra money back into the game with a hardcore mode and what Runewaker is calling its "Iron Hero" launch event.
This week on Battle Bards, the crew dips its toes into the "candyland" world of Dragon Nest. It's a game that belies stereotypical expectations, being both dark in theme and rich in music. Of course, Steff declares herself a wet blanket from the onset, but will she be won over by the show's end? Listen and find out!
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.
We’ve got Episode 82: Dragon Nest and the show notes for you after the break!
You might remember InselGames as the studio that tried to bring back L.A.W. as Trinium Wars, which didn't go well in the west and in fact sunsets this week. But now the company is touting a new MMORPG, Guardians of Ember, due out at the end of September for NA and EU fans - or at east those willing to shell out $19.99 to $49.99 for Steam early access.
InselGames is calling it a "unique combination of Hack’n’Slash and traditional MMORPG" with a dual class system, four races, randomized dungeons with difficulty settings, crafting and enchanting, housing, endgame missions, and several PvP gameplay types. It actually has an Indiegogo campaign running now to crowdfund the German localization:
"Guardians of Ember is a hack'n'slash game like grandmother's apple pie: You are missing it and you love it when it's on your plate! As a small publisher we initally decided to launch the new game from the developers of Runes of Magic and Dragon's Prophet in English only. But with your help we can start with the German localization right away."
Although Dragon's Prophet was shuttered in North America last year, the game is still flapping its wings in Europe. The Spring Awakening patch 3.0.1592 eradicated bugs that were infesting a score of dungeons. Now when you kill mobs in Deyarka Bastille, it really counts (for the Bio Hazard quest, that is)! On the other hand, players will no longer get credit for the deaths of suicide beetles in Asuma‘s Mirage. Other dungeons to get the exterminator treatment include Corzinem Nukleus of Time, Mitctlan's Corridor, and Column of the Prophet.
In addition to these fixes, the Guardian, Ranger, and Oracle classes all received a few adjustments, as did the dragons themselves (random attributes can no longer be lower than 3). Check out all the details for the various changes in the official patch notes.
It's become tradition to fare well the MMOs that sunsetted in the preceding year, but that wasn't always the case. At the beginning of 2015, in saying goodbye to 2014's sunsetted games, I tried to put that into perspective.
Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about how Vanguard's early stumbles foreshadowed the changing MMORPG industry. In January 2007, when Vanguard lurched its way to launch, the genre was barely a decade old; it was booming, and it had never suffered hardship on a massive scale. In the west, we'd seen only three "major" MMOs sunset (Motor City Online, Earth and Beyond, and Asheron's Call 2), and only one MMO, Anarchy Online, had "gone F2P," though we hadn't yet thought to call it yet because it was such a rare and new thing. In fact, it wasn't until 2008's first big wave of AAA, post-World of Warcraft MMOs launched and mostly flopped that MMORPG players gave much thought to the future of the genre and how WoW had reshaped (and possibly broken) it. Maybe not even then.
In 2016 and in 2015, sunsets are increasingly common, a result of market oversaturation, business model struggles, and changing gamer tastes and investment options. Let's revisit the games we lost in 2015 and consider what their sunsets portend for the year ahead.
Every week for the last few years, we've expanded on our "Daily Grind" theme with a Leaderboard poll. On the one hand, seeing the numbers and bar graphs is a quantitative sort of magic that we don't often get from our other articles. On the other hand, it's really obvious when a certain game's community is swarming and brigading a vote.
Let's take a look back at the best MMO polls of 2015.
For as long as Massively Overpowered exists, this will be one of the most memorable years in our site's history. It was the year that, after seven year of operation, old Massively got abruptly shuttered by AOL along with Joystiq and WoW Insider. It was also the year that the community rallied around us and Kickstarted the hell out of a new site, giving us the chance to create MOP as an independent MMO entity.
2015 will no doubt be remembered for a lot of other things too, of course. I don't think anyone could have predicted all of the craziness and unexpected turns that happened in our genre over the past 12 months. Let's take a walk back through the year-that-was to cover the biggest, strangest, and most exciting stories that we covered.
It's always sad when a game shuts down. Dragon's Prophet never managed to quite find its audience in the American marketplace, and it has shut down in North America as of Monday. The game continues to operate normally in Europe and Asia, but Daybreak Games fans will no longer be able to tame their personal dragons. Sadly, even the official site is gone from the digital aether.
Our condolences to fans and staff members affected by the shutdown.
WildStar's free-to-play launch began this past week, and Justin and Bree are in the thick of this wild and woolly mess. On today's show, they talk about what could've been done differently, the upcoming demise of an MMO that nobody played, and a controversial SWTOR feature that's coming with the expansion.
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
The latest free-to-play fantasy MMO to call it quits is Dragon's Prophet. Daybreak and Runewaker announced today the decision to shutter the title in North America. Dragon's Prophet will continue to be available in Europe and Asia for the time being.
The North American shards will go poof on November 16, 2015, and the devs are currently planning to make seasonal content and items available during the game's final weeks. The game's official website features an FAQ that answers various cash shop-related questions.
Most everyone who knows me well will acknowledge that I'm not generally a cynical, dark person. I'm not rooting for games to fail, for the industry to crash, for developers to be banished to the wastelands for their sins, or for the cultural return to Parcheesi. So while you might read the title of today's piece as rather grim, understand that this is more a public service announcement than a cantankerous gamer dancing on the yet-to-be-dug graves of online RPGs.
Every MMO will die, and some of those much sooner than others. Right now there are seven games that are probably not long for this world, although in this industry you never quite know, do you? But if you have any interest in the following titles, I would recommend getting in to play them now -- before it's too late and you end up posting tear-laden nostalgia pieces on Reddit, wishing for one more day in that world. OK, that might be too grim. I'm not saying that all of these are on the verge of being shut down but that they're operating on borrowed time and have a very uncertain future.