Here’s an interesting point that’s worth considering: For all the talk about cryptocurrencies, NFTs, the metaverse, and other Web3 buzzwords being the future of video games, it’s important to note that none of the entries on this list are games that are, were, or are expected to be wildly successful. The MMOs we’re going to talk about are sunseted games that got resurrected, floundering games hitching their boats to something that seemed successful, or games that don’t even exist yet. This is not a library of grand success, and that is worth keeping in mind.
MOP as a site has generally been highly critical of cryptocurrencies and the associated stuff for many, many reasons. The rollouts in actual somewhat successful games like Ubisoft’s attempts have been disastrous, despite the fact that some companies that should really know better like Square-Enix, Sega, Niantic, Sulake, Pearl Abyss, Krafton, Visionary Realms, NetEase, Nexon, and CCP seem bullish on the prospect. (We’d be remiss to not point to other studios like Grinding Gear Games and Clockwork Labs coming out and saying “hell no” and others like Blizzard and Little Orbit pulling back on the idea; the genre is not unified in marching toward its own demise.)
So let’s take a look at the dark side here and… well, then let’s take a shower. And this isn’t even all of them. It’s just 10 of them.
1. Legends of Aria
This is probably the biggest and most prominent member of this particular club, or at least it was, because it surprised us all when it was announced that a new owner was taking control and would remake the game into a very new form while also integrating NFTs and cryptocurrency. The developers have subsequently gone on the record trying to explain why this is an advantage for the actual game to limited success.
Why we still cover it: Generally speaking we avoid covering crypto schemes, but we still keep an eye on and cover Legends of Aria because it was originally crowdfunded by MMO players as Shards Online, and we think it’s important to hold the makers to account for that. Especially when its pivot does not appear to be something highly demanded by the fans or backers.
2. Kritika Online
This one is kind of just sad. First, the game was published in the west by En Masse Entertainment, back when that was a thing (its closure predates En Masse closing, though). Then, it got brought back by the original publisher. Then it got brought back again by the original makers as an NFT monstrosity, with the added soupçon of weirdness that the whole NFT/blockchain thing is actually illegal in South Korea. But here it is for us, for some reason.
Why we still cover it: We don’t now. We covered how grotesque its new cash shop is, and that’s it up until the implosion.
3. Whatever Richard Garriott’s thing is
Richard Garriott is building another MMO filled with NFTs after his last project, Shroud of the Avatar, landed with a limp thud and a few twitches of life. Also he’s working with the person who somehow took over SOTA on this new project because that makes some kind of sense.
Why we still cover it: Richard Garriott. You know, the guy who had a major hand in Ultima Online? That’s kind of important. It also bears attention because of how this project ties into the aforementioned SOTA which, again, was Kickstarted as well as invested in by gamers who were essentially ghosted in the process. Accountability and history all together.
Have you played ArcheAge and thought to yourself that you’d like this more if it were stuck in a financially exploitative loop based on all the worst parts of the game? Well, XLGAMES seems to be pushing that with ArcheWorld, an upcoming version of the game that has outlined its “content plans” that read mostly like “various NFT drops.”
Why we still cover it: Connection to ArcheAge primarily, but also because the whole “it’s illegal in our home country but it isn’t legal where we’re marketing this game” thing gets a fair amount of attention and side-eye. And ArcheAge isn’t going anywhere, it seems.
5. Life Beyond
This game actually looked really promising at one point, and so we were all kind of sad when its developer announced that it had been bought out and was pivoting into NFTs with gusto, right down to requiring NFT purchases to get in on one of the alpha tests. It’s not a good look for a game, especially one being developed by a promising studio that unfortunately already had one whiff under its belt.
Why we still cover it: We’re not. The second story linked up there was functionally our last look at the title before waving farewell to it. The game looked promising, but again, it’s still in development and requires an NFT purchase to get into an alpha test. No thank you.
6. Riders of Icarus
Ah, yes, again it happened. Things started so well for Riders of Icarus, and we were excited for its future, players left and updates fell off, and then we slipped into play-to-earn nonsense, which does not appear to be going all that well, either.
Why we still cover it: We might cover the occasional update because this was an actual launched MMORPG that people enjoyed, but we’re not going to chronicle every time it tries to sell people another NFT or whatever.
Oh, this game. There were a lot of reasons to be suspicious about this game from pretty early on, and then we found out that the whole thing collapsed after its leader took backer money, took money from a mysterious angel investor, and then gambled and lost a bunch of that investor money on cryptocurrency. And if you think that’s why this is here, it’s actually not; the game’s head designer also thought pivoting the whole thing toward NFTs would work before the investor wised up and the whole thing imploded. It’s kind of brokenly hilarious.
Why we still cover it: Backer money, broken promises, and also it’s kind of all over now so we’re just covering the remnants of how everything fell apart and went down.
8. Eden Falling
Promising new title? Check. Development going a little slow? Check. Rolls out an NFT drop? Unfortunately, check. And here we part ways.
Why we still cover it: We don’t. We did leading up to the (very delayed) NFT drop event, but after that point we let it go and waved farewell. It’s worth noting that at this point the game’s Twitter is just trying to sell game NFTs, it seems.
9. Bless Unleashed
In the grand history of games that just kept trying and just kept missing, Bless is probably going to be written in bold text. You know, if someone ever actually writes that. But its pivot to a play-to-earn blockchain thing under Valofe (the same people behind Riders of Icarus, not for nothing) is pretty much where the sad saga of its attempts and failures probably ends. At one point people were really excited for a version of this game, I seem to recall.
Why we still cover it: If we do so (and that’s a big if), we honestly only do so because there’s a long history to the whole Bless thing and there’s potentially some interest there. But as I mentioned, that’s a big if. We haven’t in months and have no clear need to do so again.
10. Rise Online
This one kind of stings. Not horrible, but the idea of an old game from many years ago getting a fresh lease on life is always heartwarming. And then in came the NFTs, and all of that interest just gets sucked out of the room.
And it’s not just because of these things being financially dodgy scams at the absolute best of times, although that’s definitely part of it. It’s because there were people who liked the original game and missed it, and then here we are with the game’s corpse being exhumed not as an object of affection and a thing worthy of love again but as something to be exploited. A resource to be mined. It’s sad, and it’s unpleasant, and it’s a crass reminder that these things are products even to the people who have the opportunity to bring them back.
Why we still cover it: We don’t and haven’t ever since that announcement. We didn’t cover it much before then, but that killed it dead.