Perfect Ten: The most poorly managed MMO sunsets of all time

    
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lol

MMOs shut down. This is just kind of a reality. It’s an unpleasant one, but we also are collectively aware that it happens and not much can be done to prevent it. Some games fail to get an audience or are no longer viable or whatever, and then you need to wave goodbye. Sometimes the game is shut down for bad reasons that are mostly a result of corporate greed, and that sucks, but at least most of the time the people in charge of the game manage those last few days with respect and dignity.

Then there are the sunsets that are handled with all the grace and dignity of throwing a smoke bomb into a server room and letting nature take its course. That’s what we’re talking about today.

Fortunately, most of the actual sunsets we have in this particular genre seem to have been managed with a level of basic decency, even if the aforementioned reasons for the shutdown are garbage. But when the shutdowns are handled poorly… well, we have these. Like, say, the first entry here.

And I didn't even like it.

1. Marvel Heroes

These rankings are not usually strictly in best-to-worst order, but the reality is that there’s no better example for badly managing a shutdown than Marvel Heroes. If someone was going to write a guide about how to shut down a game, I’m pretty sure that unexplained silences punctuated by actual lies are first on the list of things to never do for any reason. Everything after that point is already tainted, after all.

But even if the unexplained silence itself didn’t bother you, there was also the completely unclear actual shutdown date, the contradictory statements, the apparently foul behavior of upper management, or… you know, just go back and browse through the tags. It was bizarre.

Bye! Wait, no. Wait, yes!

2. Firefall

On a grand list of all the ways to go out, I have to say that shutting down, then not shutting down, then keeping a game in perpetual are-we-closed-or-not limbo for several months is pretty close to the most disrespectful way to treat players possible, coming in as less respectful than even posting the “Bye Felicia” clip as the only explanation for a server shutdown. And here we are. Good work, Firefall!

Admittedly, there’s more going on with this one. But it was a mess from top to bottom.

Great job.

3. Landmark

For the people who still had some vestige of respect for Daybreak as a studio, I like to think that Landmark’s quick turnaround from inheritor of a canceled game’s legacy to itself being shutdown was the moment of “wait, maybe these guys are actually awful.” For those of us who haven’t liked the studio from back in the SOE days… well, it was still a shockingly quick and mean-spirited move for a title that didn’t even get a full year after its official launch to build up an audience, much less benefit from any actual development time. Especially when you consider how heavily the game relied upon player-made content.

Yeah, we don't know either.

4. Hellgate

It’s good to note that Hellgate has only had one insanely disrespectful shutdown, specifically after its first launch. The real lemon juice in the eye comes from the continued revivals, none of which actually seems interested in letting former fans just pick up where it was off. Why does this keep happening? Are the rights just insanely cheap? Do you get them for free when you turn 18 if you have the right astrological sign? Someone enlighten me.

Hellgate Lite

5. ELOA

I was inspired for this whole article by seeing that we were covering the shutdown of Elite Lord of Alliance… for the third time. It’s like Hellgate on a budget, or something. Factor in that at least one of the localized versions appear to have been brought over in some degree of illegality, and the whole thing becomes downright insane. How does that even happen?

I honestly feel like past a certain point it’s disrespectful to both players and the people who are buying the rights to this game. I don’t know how you believe that after two failures to connect the third one is going to be a success.

Very respectful

6. Wander

And here we have a shutdown that manages to be awfully managed by just sort of quietly letting it happen and hoping nobody notices. The failure of Wander came down to a number of factors, some of which were under the control of the developers and some of which were not. But voluntarily saying nothing while the game languished, leaving it present until the game actually shut down? That one is wholly in the control of people who could have at any point said “yeah, it’s dead, we’re sorry.”

On second thought, nah.

7. Breakaway

I feel like at some point we’re going to need to have a serious discussion about Amazon Game Studios, which has definitely made a storied history of not actually producing games. Breakaway was almost there, and yet at the last moment Amazon declared that it was being pulled in a way that felt as hand-wringing as possible about officially cancelling the game. It’d be funny if there weren’t people actually invested in the game.

Factionalized!

8. Bless Online

One of the points of this particular column is that there’s a difference implied between the quality of a game and the respect shown when shutting it down. I can’t think of anyone who would argue that Bless Online was a good game, but the disrespect of the whole operation came from insisting that each time one version or another shut down, of course that has no bearing on this version facing the exact same problems and critical reception! And now we have Bless Unleashed on the way, which is at least supposed to be distinct from the original game… but who knows how well that will fare.

Yes, on some level the idea of telling your current source of profit that the game is not in a good place sounds absurd. I can understand not doing it. But it’s still a foul way to manage a game.

Well done, lads.

9. The Culling

Ironically, the real thing that sank The Culling wasn’t itself so much as a hasty sequel that angered people so much that any subsequent actions were tainted. Yes, right up to the shutdown itself. That was managed decently, by all accounts, but it was still a shutdown in part tied to that initial affront, so it winds up having an air of “what did you expect” around it.

For the record, I do think that the developers reacted to fan outrage in the best possible way, walking back on plans and making what at least looked like an honest effort to mollify players. The problem is that once the initial damage was done… well, the damage was done. It wasn’t really going to be undone, just mitigated.

aw hell

10. Basically any NCsoft shutdown

Oh, just pick one. This publisher handles lots of them, and odds are that at least one is still grinding your gears. I’m personally annoyed by WildStar’s “when are we going to shut down, it is a mystery,” thing, but that’s just me. There’s never been a shutdown that didn’t have at least some degree of implied contempt for players and the game itself, no matter how else it might be managed.

Because really, that’s the ore here. It’s not about the shutdown itself; you might lose a license or not have players or whatever, shutdowns happen. It’s that contempt. It’s not providing reasons or timetables or explanations or plans or anything, a last little dig that gives the shutdown that feeling of a middle finger even beyond the loss of the game.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”

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Xell

Why even bothering with NCSoft MMOs that are not fantasy? There are so many games that they pulled the plug (Auto Assault, Tabula Rasa, Wild Star, Master x Master)

About Firefall: I read they want to make a mobile version of it. Do you have news on that?

Freddy
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Freddy

I feel like Landmark wasn’t poorly managed for its sunset. They just didn’t seem to care. Also I find it strange that the landmark forums are still up..

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Nick // Genghis

Firefall still remains so unique in my mind to this day. Same with Global Agenda. I wonder if we’ll ever see another Sci-Fi TPS that does what either of those tried to do. Yes, I’m aware of Warframe/Destiny/Division/Borderlands being similar in various aspects whether shooting, mobility, or in regards to classes. However, none of those quite get the Sci-Fi, jetpack, high mobility with heavy emphasis on teamwork in both PvE and PvP just right enough for me like GA/FF did. Both had their issues, some more severe than others, but gahdamn they were just so satisfying idk why. Sad day when I heard GA was being taken offline, and sad day again when I heard FF was being shut down.

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Nick // Genghis

Include Lawbreakers in that assessment of Sci-Fi, Shooters, High Mobility with a different competitive setting focused on solely PvP. RIP. For nostalgia sake here’s a screenshot of a higher level thumper that freaked my friend and I right out!

steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.jpg
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Witches

Wolverine and Colossus fighting Magneto is the perfect illustration of how mishandled the closing of MH was.

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strangesands

I know it falls under number 10, but Tabula Rasa probably deserves a mention.

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starbuck1771

Seeing Hellgate listed on here makes me miss my days with Ping0. Hell I am surprised Mythos wasn’t mentioned. Dann you Bill Roper.

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Mick the Barbarian

I utterly refuse to take up any NCSoft MMO because always in the back of my mind I know it’s not going to survive. Yeah, screw those guys …. because they’re screwed us so many times.

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Bryan Correll

Oh, just pick one.

My heart says CoH, but my brain says the shenanigans around the closure of Tabula Rasa really take the cake. How many other shutdowns involve a company losing $28 million in a lawsuit for fraud?

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Zero_1_Zerum

Everytime I see a game by NCsoft, I’m like nope. Won’t get fooled again! They’re too shut down happy for me to invest time or money in one of their games.

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Zero_1_Zerum

Wait, Firefall shut down? I remember beta-testing that one. It was fun, but…it didn’t grab me enough to want to play it after the beta was over. Still, it’s a shame it got shut down. Oy vey.

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Bruno Brito

Yes, quite a while ago. It was in development hell for a while, and it pretty much became several different games before the shutdown.

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John Mynard

This one still hurts.

April-Rain
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April-Rain

I bought the collectors edition on this one – DOH

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Nick // Genghis

Don’t be sad man, the beta iterations were awesome (the modular frames and gear progression was an AMAZING time for the game), but at launch it was just WoW with guns and jetpacks which wasn’t incredibly noteworthy, but the gameplay is to this day imo unmatched and we haven’t seen something quite like it. Excepts being Warframe/Destiny and both those… are not… Firefall-y enough for me lol. Cherish the memories!