Welcome to a special edition of Make My MMO, Massively OP’s regular recap of what’s going on in crowdfunded MMOs, which we do specifically for those of you who are convinced Kickstarter is the absolute worst (although sometimes it is) and that no crowdfunded MMOs ever launch (they do). Plus, somebody’s got to keep an eye on what your money’s up to!
Tonight’s edition isn’t going to be our usual recap of the last couple of weeks, however; we’re going to look at the most important MMO crowdfunding news of the entire year. Lock up your wallets and let’s get to it.
Temtem and Fractured win big on Kickstarter
The two big Kickstarter MMOs of the year were Temtem, a Pokemon-inspired MMORPG, and Fractured. Temtem brought in over half a million dollars, while the sandbox Fractured netted $130,000 from backers and fans. It wasn’t quite the haul from previous years, but clearly MMOs still have a solid chance on the platform if their ask is reasonable and their pitch is good. Fractured, by the way, made it to pre-alpha this year but delayed its alpha; alpha did go live for Temtem backers already, however.
Shroud of the Avatar, Project Gorgon, and Legends of Aria launch
Wait, didn’t Shroud of the Avatar already launch? Yes. In fact, it’s sort of launched twice: The persistent world launched in 2016, never to be wiped, while the formal launch was in March of this year, though the game appears to have struggled over the year, losing its EU publisher as well as Richard Garriott as CEO (he stayed on as creative director) and going formally free-to-play this fall. Project Gorgon, on the other hand, hit early access on Steam in March to critical acclaim if not huge numbers; it’s recently opened up a demo. And as for Legends of Aria? It postponed its Steam early access but left beta for its local backers anyway and has struggled with technical difficulties and downtime over December.
Camelot Unchained, Crowfall, and Pantheon move forward
Mark Jacob’s Camelot Unchained project finally hit beta one this summer after years of delay – but not before CSE landed another $7.5M in investment to move things along. As for Crowfall, it once again delayed its soft launch – that’s two years in a row – but it looks more like a functioning game than ever and is moving toward its first live campaign testing. Pantheon, too, pushed onward towards alpha and picked up new developers (and Brasse too!), impressing our previewer.
Dual Universe creeps up on Star Citizen
Star Citizen never fails to dazzle: Not only did it prevail in court over Crytek this year, but it moved from alpha 3.0 to alpha 3.4.0, claimed nobody else was attempting what it was attempting, put up fresh new absurdly priced ships, counted up $200M in crowdfunding, and took on $46M in outside private investment, as well as projected Squadron 42’s beta for the end of 2020. Dual Universe, on the other hand, is the scrappy underdog in its shadow, but maybe not for much longer: It opened up new crowdfunding avenues and made it to alpha.
The City of Heroes spinoffs
The top three indie superhero MMOs are all still deep in production; City of Titans missed its expected Issue 0 launched at the end of this year, delaying into 2019, while Ship of Heroes pumped out videos, a combat alpha, and multiple login tests, and Valiance Online hung in there.
Ashes of Creation goes apocalyptic
Ashes of Creation claimed to be “now among the largest MMOs in production” this year – bold words, but they might even true. The game proceeded through its alpha zero this year and went on a hiring spree. By summer, it had partnered with My.com for European and Russian publishing – to the consternation of its fans – and by fall it was talking up Apocalypse, its now-standalone free-to-play battle royale mode, also to the consternation of its fans.
Chronicles of Elyria and Pathfinder Online persevered
Chronicles of Elyria began the year by counting $3.5M in crowdfunds, but then it dropped SpatialOS and suffered sizable layoffs. Though it made its way to pre-alpha, it probably got the most mileage out of its Searing Plague event, and its devs promise 2019 will be a big year. Pathfinder Online also popped up at the end of the year – not dead yet!
Albion comes to Steam
Sandbox Albion Online started off the year on a down note: with a round of layoffs. While it posted several large-scale updates and revamps this year, the Steam launch in May didn’t translate into many longterm players on top of the existing playerbase, and the devs backburnered the mobile edition.
A few others that jumped out at me as I took a look back through the year:
- TUG now appears to be a scam. As we put it in our last recap of the TUG saga, Nerd Kingdom took $300,000 on Kickstarter from gamers, and no one has been able to hold its representatives accountable for not only not producing a game but not producing an explanation whatsoever about what happened.
- Greed Monger briefly came back into production for a day and then was canceled again by one of its principals. Another former lead on the project began granting refunds to original Kickstarter backers, in the most passive-aggressive way possible.
- Ever, Jane is still in production; this year it got a new website and personal butlers.
- ROKH is basically abandoned. Developer Darewise says the game wasn’t profitable and while it didn’t want to let go of its original game, it did move on to new investment for a new game entirely.
- Still holding out hope for The Repopulation? Its current studio spent the entire year working on cleaning up the game and redoing the starter island.
What would you argue was the biggest MMO crowdfunding story of the year?