It’s true that we lost a lot of MMOs in 2016 — bigger and more important ones than in 2014 and 2015. 2017, however, has been a different sort of beast. The list is long, and while it’s painful for those whose games are gone, the genre didn’t lose many major MMOs this past year. And that startles me.
Marvel Heroes was surely the most dramatic of all the sunsets, given that it shut down early without notice. Earlier in the year, we saw Daybreak put an end to Landmark after less than a year of live operation, while Turbine let the Asheron’s Call franchise go, Firefall formally closed, Club Penguin’s sunset broke the internet, and NCsoft called it quits with Master X Master. A number of other MMOs simply halted development – Perpetuum, Sword Coast Legends, and SkySaga being the most prominent of those. And on a more positive note, there were a few sunsetted MMOs that were revivified, including Otherland, Uncharted Waters Online, and RaiderZ.
Farewell, old friends.
We’re taking a time-machine back through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we head into 2018!
July was a month of MMORPG launches, as Riders of Icarus, Albion Online, and Gigantic formally launched; Dark and Light hit early access; and other MMOs, including SWTOR, Guild Wars 2, and Neverwinter, rolled out major updates.
But it was also a period of delays, as Star Citizen collected thousands of comments over its repeated delays of its 3.0 alpha and both ARK: Survival Evolved and Lord of the Rings Online’s Mordor rescheduled launches for August. We also said farewell to Firefall after its long limbo, and don’t forget the Pokemon Go live event trainwreck!
Read on for the whole list!
December’s many article roundups and awards always remind us that it’s hard to remember what happened last month, let alone what happened way back at the beginning, so this year (as in 2015 and 2016), we decided to poke through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we launch into 2018.
If you were still reeling from the devastating loss of EverQuest Next in 2016, the announcement in January of this year that Landmark was being kicked the curb too was salt in the wound. In fact, the beginning of 2017 was a dark spot for MMOs, with Firefall in limbo, Marvel Heroes rolling out an unwelcome patch, The Repopulation being sold to the company that almost snuffed it out, and the Asheron’s Call series on the chopping block. Even Nostalrius had regrets! We did, however, see the launch of Conan Exiles and get our first whisper of Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind.
Read on for the whole list from January of this past year.
If you happened to catch the Massively OP Podcast this week, you heard my positively livid rant about the whole Marvel Heroes situation. Now, I have been doing this a long time, and I’ve weathered a lot of extremely painful sunsets of beloved games. But I’ve never, ever seen one handled as abysmally as the Marvel Heroes sunset.
Gazillion, Marvel, and Disney completely and utterly dropped the ball on telling players about the stepped-up sunset, to the point that many players had no idea what was going on. Nobody sent so much as an email or tweet or forum post to the players. The only company granting refunds? Microsoft, eating costs it shouldn’t have to eat. The only ones who did anything were laid-off rank-and-file devs who felt a duty to warn the public.
In fact, the only thing that comes close is Firefall, and that sunset came after a year of that weird thing with the Chinese cashmere company. It was bad, but it was understandable because it was basically a clownshow from the day Red 5 got bought out. This? There’s no excuse for a company as huge and wealthy as Disney/Marvel to screw over players in this way when either could have easily floated Gazillion and the game to the end of the year as promised. Or at least sent them a damn email of apology, knowing the banks were yoinking the servers on Monday. Nothing. We got nothing.
One thing you can say for the MMO industry: It never ceases to surprise all of us. No matter what predictions we may make at the beginning of a year, by December we will all be proven fools who lack vision and foresight.
Although 2017 isn’t quite over yet, we here at Massively Overpowered wanted to count down the biggest news stories that crossed over into our neck of the woods so far this year. We witnessed controversies and delights, shockers and sadness. We saw launches and shutdowns, expansions and bugs.
So before we move into 2018, let’s take a look at the year that was and remember the biggest stories that dominated headlines.
Every MMO tells a story through the run of its life. A lot of those stories are pretty happy, too. Ultima Online may not be the most happening place in the world right now, but its story is about launching a genre and then running for two solid decades. That’s a pretty great story. However much it’s become a tale of mismanaged expectations, World of Warcraft kind of became the most popular thing for a long while and brought in tons of new people to the hobby. Even titles with sad endings often have bright stories; the end bit for City of Heroes sucks, but everything leading up to that was a gas.
And then you have these 10 titles. These are titles where the whole story is a tragedy, start to finish, and in many cases the tragedy isn’t necessarily over, but the story is still just plain sad. There are reasons, of course, maybe even good ones, but the result is that the narrative for these titles is pretty sad all the way through.
On this week’s show, Justin and Bree mourn the passing of Firefall, find out what’s behind Tibia’s secret door, muse about World of Warcraft’s next expansion, and more!
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.
Listen to the show right now:
Firefall fans can cross their fingers hoping for the promised mobile edition, but we wouldn’t put too much stock in waiting for it. In the meanwhile, players have had to cope with the abrupt and unsympathetic closure of their game world.
Over on the Firefall subreddit, the mods made the decision to lock up the sub from any new posts going forward because fans haven’t had a bad enough week.
“What is the point of locking the sub now?” one player posted. “If the forums are going down surely you would expect this place to be the next spot for everyone to talk, but sure, let’s lock it up. Makes perfect sense.”
And as darkness envelops this colorful and controversial title, it would be a shame not to end our time with Firefall without one last look at its greatest legacy: the infamous bus. Go for a final ride after the break!
Do not go gentle into that good night forever,
Old MMOs should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the server.
Now that I’ve well and truly butchered a classic poem, I’ll turn the funeral proceedings over to Ralph the Wonder Llama, who has these kind words to say about the recently deceased: “Well, at least it’s finally official. Rest in peace, Firefall. You will be missed. Ares 35, signing off.”
Is it just me, or is anyone else getting Tabula Rasa flashbacks?
Did our article yesterday on MMOs in limbo knock one loose? Probably not, but one of them is sunsetting all the same: Firefall. Late last night, an unknown Red 5 staffer posted the sad news.
“With heavy hearts, we regret to inform you that after much review and analysis, Red 5 Studios have decided to suspend the Firefall efforts on 7th, July 2017. Thank you for being an important part of the Firefall experience and for your loyalty and dedication to the online community. Your efforts and loyalty will not go without recognition, however. Firefall is currently developing a mobile version of the game and all of Firefall’s founders and players will be rewarded greatly in the new game. We will be sure to provide everyone with more updates as we have them. Thank you for your support and enthusiasm throughout the years; we will see you at the next battle.”
Yay, a mobile game. You could also head over and pick up your credit toward Mark Kern’s new game, Em-8ER.
The one thing that I thought we could all count on forever was that the MMO life cycle was pretty easy to understand. A game is launched, then it runs for a certain amount of time, then it shuts down. That last part kind of sucks, but the point is that you know when it’s time to move on. The life cycle is clearly one of creation, then life, then death, like a potted ficus or a cheap desk chair you get at Target.
But then sometimes you have a cheap desk chair that breaks in a crucial way, but you manage to screw the right sort of braces together so you can keep using it for another year after it should have been thrown out. And sometimes an MMO is born, and then it lives, and then it… doesn’t live, but it’s not actually shut down or in maintenance. Or it isn’t clear what’s going on with it, due to what seems to be total abandonment. Or it updates more than games which are supposedly live.
That’s what this column is all about. MMOs in a weird sort of limbo, where some facts are clear, but the results or the overall trajectory make no sense. Sometimes it’s not even clear if the game has actually launched or not. It’s weird.
If you were worried that Mark Kern’s Em-8ER (properly pronounced “eem-eight-er” for those willing to die upon snarky hills) wouldn’t fund on its latest Indiegogo push, good news! It’s already funded and looking toward stretch goals. Of course, one could argue that since the game has already had one successful Indiegogo campaign and is now having its second in a series of “serial crowdfunding” pushes, this is already a stretch goal, but let’s not split hairs. The point is that you can pay more money and get more stuff; that’s what the campaign is focusing on.
The newest stretch goals allow for model fights against a new beast, more emotes for players, and motion capture. “We will be modeling the ‘beast’ form of the Tsi-Hu aliens,” says the game’s newsletter. “This deadly creature is what Tsi-Hu can transform into for brutal melee combat. The next stretch goal is to animate it and have it fight the players! There are lots of great perks to unlock, including color changing CHROMA jumpjets, glowing Omniframe skins and even a full motorcycle. In response to player feedback, we also updated our $500 tier to include better rewards, like the Turret #2 Pet robot, and having NPCs salute and greet you by title.”
In tossing out a screenshot challenge last week revolving around combat action shots, you’d think that this would be a piece of cake. After all, we do fight a little bit in MMOs, right? But it turns out that capturing a good-looking combat picture is really difficult in the midst of the chaos… unless your MMO is set up for it.
“I hardly ever take screenshots in combat,” said Zyrusticae. “Usually too busy being distracted by actually playing the game. But Warframe’s Captura tool certainly changes things in that regard. Wish all games had something on this level. I need to jump in and take more screenshots!”
It is pretty sweet! Definitely second the motion to port this over to all MMORPGs.