The Daily Grind: Which MMOs are unlikely to survive 2020?

    
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Wait what

The thing about surprising MMO shutdowns is that they’re just that: surprising. No one expected to lose City of Heroes when we did, even if the current rogue server projects seem caught in limbo waiting for legitimacy. But there are definitely games where the shutdown announcements aren’t only predictable but are downright expected. Just the other day, Bree and I were pondering when a certain seemingly doomed game was likely to call it quits, mostly as idle observers as veterans of this particular industry.

Obviously, neither of us is cheering for that; it’s a sad outcome, and no one wins in that scenario. It’s just a matter of seeing the writing on the wall and making reasonable predictions about the stuff that’s not going to make it much longer. So with the year half over, let’s offer some speculation. What MMOs do you think won’t make it through the end of the year without a shutdown or a shutdown announcement?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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KodaiRyu
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KodaiRyu

Rift has much better chances to survive because steam charts show only 1/3 of total players… millions hate Steam you know. But here is what will not survive this year since it’s only in Steam (unless they remove pricetag)

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Sleepy

Rift was soooo good at launch. Interesting classes and build options, an interesting world that rewarded exploration, the promise of a really interesting story, and dynamic large-scale events that kept zones from feeling static.

What the hell happened? Besides Gamigo, obviously.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Trion was a publicly traded company from the start, it had to answer to it’s shareholders expectations.

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Mr.McSleaz

New World :)

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Schlag Sweetleaf
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Malcolm Swoboda

Gamego games save for Trove(?). RIFT needs to show real signs of life, and Defiance strangely hangs on. I’d love private servers for each though. If I had to bet, both would exist past this year, but both need actual investment in new content and fixing before they go anywhere good. And they probably won’t get that.

Secret World Legends keeps looking on death’s door but that door is always a good bit away because of the community, continued IP usage, and well its a Funcom MMO. Funcom, please invest in one big update or set of updates that basically finishes whatever constitutes as ‘Act 2’, leave the game in maintenance for at least a year or two after (early-or-mid 2020s), and move forward with the IP. Stop faffing about.

SWTOR will survive this year, but 2021 is less certain, and 2022-23 will depend on EA’s longer term Star Wars plans I imagine. Onslaught could be it for expansions and they just spend a few years slowly filling it out before shutdown, or it could be a first of a new set of expansions to release every couple years (instead of the previous 1 year-ish gap) that acts as the long goodbye. But whatever the case, I’d be shocked at a shutdown notice this year.

Shroud of the Avatar, yikes. Otherland, even more yikes. These are easy ones.

GW2 is gonna make it. Even if there’s a surprise end of development, it’ll still be up to play for a while, I’m pretty sure.

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NeoWolf

Anything NCsoft not doing well is always in the firing line they are the grim reapers of MMO’s :)

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Does not check email

They have the Asian market locked up and can hunker down there for years to come. North America…. likely expendable at some point. MMO’s at some point will be expendable so they can set up throw away mobile games.

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losludvig

I was ready to say SotA (for very obvious reasons), but looking at steamdb they’ve been stable player-wise since April ’19, so they’ll probably limp along into 2021.

I wouldn’t be surprised to se DBG either split apart or any number of not-eq1 games die off. Everquest 1 is still a licence to print money every single time they press the “release new ltp server-button”.

I think SWTOR will die the same way SWG did – by someone making a new star wars mmo (or mmo adjacent) and due to licencing the older game gets killed.

Rift is peaking around 500 concurrent steam users so that’s a likely candidate.
Both defiance games are peaking at ~100 each.
Legends of Aria is also very low on players – 120 peak – and have been jumping from one drama to another.
MechWarrior Online has around 700 peak, but hasn’t seen a single patch since Jan 28th.
Otherland MMO. Peak of 2 (no, that’s not a typo) and hasn’t seen a patch since march 1st last year. Why is this still running?
Steambirds Alliance peak of 30-40. This one saddens me. It felt like a step up from realm of the mad god in every way.

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Loopy

Whoever is playing SotA now is gonna continue playing until its shut down. They found their niche.

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EmberStar

Considering that neither Disney nor EA seem to actually care very much about even *making* Star Wars games, I think it’s more likely that SWTOR just dies when the license expires. Considering that no MMO can pull in WoW numbers (not even WoW anymore) I don’t see it getting killed by a competing MMO. When SWTOR goes, there just won’t be a Star Wars MMO anymore. Publishers don’t want to spend that kind of money unless the return is All The Money. And given EA’s history of canceling more Star Wars games than they publish, it’s clear they’d rather have 100% of nothing than half of something.

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losludvig

I could see a star wars online schlooter happen at some point, but you’re right that we’re probably never gonna see a new star wars mmo with the budget of SWTOR

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Sykes

EA, for all its faults, understood licensing agreements better than anyone as a major publisher with their own platforms to push. I don’t expect the SWTOR license to expire, even if Disney cancels their agreement to publish new titles with EA.

Conspiracy time….EA understands far better than Disney how long MMOs take to make. By not starting development on a follow-up, they can ensure their MMO remains the only Star Wars MMO in town for a good 6 years after the agreement to publish new Star Wars titles expires should Disney elect not to renew their license, but if it becomes unprofitable in that time, EA can take SWTOR’s servers down and leave us with no Star Wars MMO at all. In the meantime, SWTOR is still doing well, it seems:

Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts on June 25, 2020 to investors during an open conference call:
“We’ve had success in first-person shooters, in RPGs, in action adventure, in MMORPGs, in mobile, and I believe we’re going to have success with Squadrons as well,” Wilson said. “We’re going to double down on that partnership. Disney continues to be very very committed to the IP and to the canon.”

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Defiance and Rift, Gamigo seems to be one of the only studios cancelling anything lately

As for a Dark Horse candidate based off of City of Heroes and NCSoft I’d keep an eye on GW2, they keep making less money each quarter and City of Heroes was axed after making poor development decisions on other future projects (sound familiar?).

That said look how long NCSoft played Weekend at Bernie’s with Wildstar.

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Mr.McSleaz

Loved that movie when I was a kid. I should probably give it a watch again.

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squid

Legends of Aria doesn’t seem long for this world; I have no idea where they get the money to continue operations.

Defiance/Defiance 2050 are likely choices, though I wouldn’t be too surprised if they each spend another year in maintenance mode.

Age of Conan is also doomed. I know it just got a little new content, but the game simply hasn’t aged well at all, and early development decisions regarding stats and raid loot didn’t do the game any favors.

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traja

Age of Conan has been doing poorly for well over a decade already. I don’t know why this year would be so different for the game that it is shut down.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Funcom is like John Wayne Gacy, they forget their victims and bury them in the crawl space never getting rid of them.

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McGuffn

Now that’s an analogy!

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Dug From The Earth

That was just cruel to use City of Heroes as the image for this article.

Shame

Shame on you