Welcome to a special edition of Make My MMO, Massively OP’s intermittent check-in on all the crowdfunding MMOs in our genre. You might have noticed that our Make My MMO column changed format a bit this year as we found a new way to display all of the games in our tracker with icons to give you a quick feel for how the games are progressing (or in some cases, not). The idea was to put an end to the “no crowdfunded MMOs ever launch” nonsense because… some crowdfunded MMOs did launch this year! Let’s take a look at the biggest news in this corner of the genre across the span of 2021.
Yes, Crowfall launched somewhat abruptly in July, but it didn’t quite take off. Instead, a weak marketing campaign and crowded summer launch field saw the game stay relatively niche, leading to layoffs and part of the team moved to another still-unannounced project at ArtCraft. It then launched a freemium edition and was beset by rumors of a possible closure, but instead, the company announced the game had been sold to Monumental instead in December.
Star Citizen’s cadence slowed even further, but its incomes didn’t: In November, it crossed the $400,000,000 threshold in donations and sales from gamers. Just remember that this unfinished game is already paying dividends to its actual investors, and Squadron 42 is still nowhere to be found.
Following an investment blast and double in team size over the summer, this sandbox’s testing continued through autumn, culminating with the reveal that it’ll be published by no less than Gamigo and will now go by Fractured Online.
Book of Travels
Might and Delight’s “tiny MMO” suffered multiple delays throughout 2021, but it finally rolled into early access in October, leaving most of us who actually gave it a test run feeling bewildered by its oddities.
Chronicles of Elyria
Beleaguered by legal entanglements following its closure and resurrection last year, Chronicles of Elyria continued efforts to convince the public it’s really back; Soulbound promoted an alpha release for Kingdoms of Elyria this year, which was overshadowed by shenanigans with Reddit and NFTs.
Saga of Lucimia
Last spring, we learned that Saga of Lucimia’s lead developers had left the company in 2020 without telling backers or testers, a split that was formalized once the knowledge had leaked out. The remaining team retained rights to the game but rebranded it as Embers Adrift, announcing by the fall that it had enough funds to launch, after which it began taking preorders and running an alpha.
I would like to be able to say that everything is right with Camelot Unchained, but unfortunately, the in-beta game has continued being bogged down in a mess of its own making as it still hasn’t finished its promised refunds that now extend back almost two years, though it does say those refunds continue. Studio City State Entertainment also pushed its second title, Final Stand Ragnarok, into early access without fanfare.
This was one of the stranger twists we covered all year. TitanReach actually flopped its Kickstarter and spent its time lurching from one minor scandal to the next. It then hit early access, announced a 2022 launch, went free-to-play, and then suspended development thanks to having no funds. Here comes the twist: Next the developers announced a mysterious angel investor had granted the game complete funding to finish. And then they pulled the game offline again. Hmm.
Legends of Aria
Legends of Aria (Shards Online) didn’t dazzle anyone in 2021; in fact, its only planned patch was delayed indefinitely. By summer, however, Citadel Studios was promising to publish “seasonal shared world adventure” MMO CODEX, and then in the fall, the studio announced Aria 2.0, which is basically a successor to the original game with a new engine.
Dual Universe raised every single eyebrow in our offices when in April, we learned that the president of Novaquark, who was also the game’s lead developer, had been ousted from his role and replaced with a wealthy financier. Of course, we didn’t learn that from the company itself but from stock filings; it took the company weeks to admit the leadership switch, and it did so in a shady way. The studio also delayed its launch window to 2022 and raised the cost of its beta subscriptions.
Elite Dangerous was bogged down by the messy launch of Odyssey early in the year; though many core players found it fun, it wasn’t received well overall, according to Frontier’s own financial reports, and the studio was forced to delay the console launch to prioritize fixing the game on PC.
A few games we’re watching closely are worth a final quick note here, even if their news wasn’t enough to make the top 10:
- Pathfinder Online finally called it quits; it sunsetted last month.
- Project Gorgon added an optional subscription this year; it’s currently still marching along in early access.
- Fractured Veil was our biggest MMO Kickstarter of the year, pulling in $110,000.
- Ashes of Creation is still pushing onward to alpha 2.
- The Wagadu Chronicles brought in fresh funding and pushed its launch window to summer 2023.
- Pantheon marches onward too, though it earned some cringe points for its dabble with NFTs earlier this year.
- Valiance Online is still trucking along, having moved to an investor beta.
- Ilysia, one of 2020’s big new Kickstarter games, hit closed alpha this year.
- Ship of Heroes did not make its planned 2021 launch, but it did release another beta.
- Shroud of the Avatar continued its low-key patch rollouts; it has still not addressed its corporate switcharoo and dodgy behavior toward its equity crowdfund investors.
- Zenith just slipped into beta… today, in fact.
- Temtem has been cagey about its timelines, but it’s aiming for launch next year.
- It’s not MMO-specific, but Kickstarter also announced plans for a decentralized blockchain protocol.
- Finally, Dreamworld is not a serious MMO, and I very much hope you didn’t give it any money, but either way, it made for a bizarre sideshow.
What would you say was the biggest MMO crowdfunding story of the year?