MMOs, unfortunately, do not last forever. When they sunset and close down for good, the whole genre mourns.
As of today, Closers Online is, um, closed in Japan. SEGA has shut down the game's servers and is handing all operations of the title over to Taiwan's HappyTuk, which is starting the MMO back up on its own hardware.
Fortunately for those affected, Japanese players can migrate their accounts and progress to the new servers and continue to play using their native language. A new client will need to be downloaded and installed, as the old one will no longer work after the change of guard.
No reason was given for the transfer between publishers.
Daybreak did it again. Boy, that phrase has come to mean a great many different things over the years. However, in this case it refers to the art of dropping some bombshell that makes me toss aside whatever I was working on for the week and focus on that explosion -- and the resulting fallout. Sometimes it's good. And sometimes it's not. This time around we fell dead center into the "not" category. We are losing Landmark.
Remember when I said Daybreak needed a win this year? This is the opposite of that. This is Daybreak choking the last bit of hope and goodwill out of players like Vader faced with a lackey's lack of faith. Disturbing, I know. Well, gee folks, Happy New Year? Forget about breaking games; I can't help but agree that a more befitting moniker would be Sunset Games.
It's easy to look back at games we loved in the past and sometimes wish we could go back to old favorites that have left us. I know there are times when I'd really love to jump back into City of Heroes and make a new character or two. But there are always games that we never quite got around to trying, games that we meant to give a real shot, the ones we have no memories of that still seem peculiar and interesting.
I never played The Matrix Online or Asta before both were shut down, but I was always interested in both of them. My time in Auto Assault was entirely limited to its early beta, yet I love the idea. Obviously, I'm never going to have a chance to try Asheron's Call before it waves farewell, and any consideration I had been giving to roleplaying in Landmark with my wife has been thoroughly killed.
So today's question isn't about what MMO you played and wish were still around. Instead, we're talking about the memories that never were. What defunct MMO would you like to play that you never tried? Not an old favorite, but an old title that was gone before you had a chance to fall in love with it.
Here is something you don't see every day: An MMO that is voluntarily taking itself offline for a year to rework the title from the ground up (yet this does sound familiar...).
HeroWarz, the hack-and-slash title from KOG Games, announced this week that it will be going offline as of March 26th for what the studio is calling "The Pause of HeroWarz." The team is apparently not content with the game's current state and claims that it needs put HeroWarz on haitus for a revamp of non-specified features.
Until this "pause" players can enjoy ongoing boosts and check out some sweeping balance changes that may herald some of the reworkings to come. KOG Games said that it will stay in communication with fans during the downtime period and will hopefully relaunch HeroWarz in early 2018.
Sad news for fans of Landmark who were happy to see it have its own life after the closure of EverQuest Next; Daybreak has announced that the Landmark servers will be shutting down on February 21st of this year. The game only formally launched in June of 2016 after a prolonged testing period, so it didn't even quite make it to a full year of operation.
The FAQ accompanying the shutdown also torpedoes any hopes players might have regarding private servers, as Daybreak will not be releasing the source code or reimbursing players who have purchased Daybreak Cash for use with the title. The game's site and forums will also be shuttered along with the game, so if you want to keep in touch with friends afterward, make sure to get contact information sooner rather than later. It's a sad day for the last part of a project, and our condolences go out to fans and staff members affected by the sudden and unexpected shutdown.
Less than a year after its launch, digital card game SolForge is closing up shop for good. All development on the free-to-play title has halted and the servers will close down on January 31st. The team gave no specific reason for the shutdown other than the project's scope got to be too big to handle.
"This isn’t the way any of us wanted SolForge to end. Unfortunately, we bit off more than we could chew trying to build a digital game of this scope and have learned many hard lessons along the way that we will apply to future games (including future incarnations of SolForge)," developer Stone Blade said.
The studio did offer a thin ray of hope, saying that it is in talks with partners to take the SolForge IP and possibly bring the game back one day. SolForge was crafted by some of the creators of Magic: The Gathering and featured a card leveling system as a core mechanic. It launched in late July 2016.
If you thought we lost a lot of MMOs in 2014 and 2015, wait until you see 2016's list.
It's easy to shrug off some of these, like the non-MMORPGs, the games shutting down in far-flung countries, or even Hellgate, which sunsets and revives at least a dozen times a year now.
But others sting. Asheron's Call, due to sunset in January, is probably the smallest MMORPG on the list, but it casts a mighty shadow over the genre and will be deeply missed by veterans. The cancellations of EverQuest Next and Revival still stings. PlanetSide had a long and storied run, while DUST 514 may yet live again. And our youngins will now miss out on introductory games like Super Hero Squad Online and LEGO Minifigures.
Farewell, old friends.
Forget 2017; today I'm going to ask you to think back to 2010, when the folks behind LEGO decided it would be a great idea to release an MMORPG based on the building block universe but make it super unwieldy and hypervigilant with a weird business model that didn't make much sense to the families likely to play it. Now fast-forward to 2011, when the team gave up on the so-named LEGO Universe because it had "not been able to attract the number of members needed to keep the game open," sunsetting the title in 2012, only to see Funcom take a stab at the IP with LEGO Minifigures Online in 2014. It closed last September for pretty much the same reason.
So if you have a craving for some classic LEGO MMO gameplay and aren't enthused about MineCraft and Trove and their ilk, maybe this'll grab you: Former players under the banner of Darkflame Universe are bringing back the original LEGO Universe, with closed alpha set to begin on January 31st, the fifth anniversary of the closure.
I'm sorry to report that Turbine announced today that it will be sunsetting Asheron's Call and Asheron's Call 2 as part of the transition revealed yesterday that will see Turbine's other MMORPGs migrated to the new independent studio.
"It is with a heavy heart that we must announce the end of our support for Asheron's Call and Asheron’s Call 2, and will close both services on January 31st, 2017. This decision did not come easy, and we know this is disappointing for many of you. This game is a labor of love, and it's not easy for us to bring it to an end. We have had a phenomenally long run; one of the longest in the world of MMORPGs, and that in and of itself is a spectacular feat. We are proud of our legacy, and the entire Asheron's Call team has been honored to adventure with you for nearly twenty years. We thank you very much for being a part of it. It’s been an amazing run. You’ve done Asheron Realaidain proud. Between now and January 31st, 2017, the game will remain available to play, completely free, for any player currently with an account. New account creation will be disabled."
Players will recall that this is not the first time Asheron's Call 2 has sunsetted; Turbine originally closed it in 2003 due to poor reception but reopened it in 2012. Classic Asheron's Call has been in maintenance mode alongside its younger sibling since 2014.
Remember all the grumbling when XLGames revealed Civilization Online at a big presser in New York and then told us it was launching in East Asia only? Welp, the game is coming to an end anyway.
XL CEO Jake Song broke the bad news to players on the official site, telling them that it was a difficult decision but that the studio plans to shut down the game service on December 6th. The cash shop and character info services shut down yesterday.
By the time it shuts down, it will have been in soft launch open beta only a year, though there's a little hint that the game might return eventually as another of XL's games "has the power to be reborn as a potential Civilization Online."
Our condolences to affected staff and players.
When I first joined the Massively crew back in 2010, the very first long-form piece I did was on Super Hero Squad Online, a Marvel-themed kiddie game out of this cute rookie studio, The Amazing Society, which was nestled under Gazillion itself. The game was actually pretty good, and I remember thinking it would be a great game to play with my kids if I ever had any.
It did turn out to be a great game to play with my kids. My son loves it. And this week, I'm going to have to tell him it's coming to an end, as Gazillion has announced it's sunsetting SHSO next year.
"The game will be available until January 2017, and there’s likely still plenty of content for you to unlock over hours and hours of gameplay," the devs wrote yesterday. "We are cutting Gold and Fractal prices of all Characters by 20%, so you can try out all of it! All Jr. S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent benefits remain in force, and everything remains available. We will no longer sell Gold, but we are upping the fractal drop rate, so you should be able to unlock and play everything."
Hi-Rez has implemented several patches since breathing life back into Tribes: Ascend last year. December's patch was its first since 2013, followed by updates in January and March. Unfortunately, today's patch will be its last.
Back in July, Hi-Rez Creative Director Sean McBride -- the man probably most responsible for rescuing Tribes -- announced that he was leaving the company, saying that "Hi-Rez and myself are not aligned." His departure was due to be marked with the 1.4 patch, dubbed "Parting Gifts," which Hi-Rez confirmed to Massively OP would be the last one the game will receive.
Parting Gifts removes screenshake, alters consumable pickups, merges bullet-based weapons into one category, balances a number of weapons and vehicles, deletes the in-game web browser, makes the patcher standalone, and fixes a number of other outstanding bugs.
Hi-Rez has said that it will continue to support the game "for the foreseeable future" with live servers and bug/balance tweaks as needed.
Four years ago or so, a number of folks at Massively, including me, had their sights set on Akaneiro: Demon Hunters. It was a co-op ARPG by American McGee with a successful $200,000 Kickstarter behind it and a Red Riding Hood-inspired, horror-esque Mori Girl setting and beautiful, cel-shaded graphics. The only real problem with the game was its hybrid business model, which couldn't quite decide whether it was buy-to-play or free-to-play with an excessive pay-to-play cash shop.
Along the way, the game's real-life business model collapsed. In 2014, McGee admitted that studio Spicy Horse Games was $1.7 million in debt and had downsized to just two people. But the game was at least playable -- in a messy but free-to-play state on Steam.
That is, at least until recently. Over the past week, players have begun reporting on Steam that the game has gone offline without warning. According to MMO Fallout, support tickets are apparently triggering an auto-responder that declares Spicy Horse closed entirely (in July, as a matter of fact) and that it will no longer offer support for any of its games, though it does say "Akaneiro WILL continue to remain online for the foreseeable future."