MMO sunsets can be weird. I am never happy when a game that people love goes away. It always represents a lot of lost time and effort, the loss of something beloved, and it is never a thing that I revel in. But so far this year, the shutdown announcements have come down to one surprise and a whole lot of moments staring and wondering what the heck anyone was thinking when it got here.
So today, I want to talk about this year’s notable sunsets to date. One of the titles was one that makes me actually sad and represents a kind of surprise given its overall success. The rest, though? These were games that seemed to be on borrowed time for a long time, and that is not a good thing.
So you might wonder how this one would get on the list if every other one of these games is kind of a “no duh” in its shutdown announcement. Sure, TERA getting shut down was kind of a surprise; this was a game that had done all right for itself for years. But what made it really head-smackingly bad was how poorly its shutdown was actually managed. I appreciate the developers putting together a last farewell quest. I don’t appreciate that no one outside of South Korea got to actually play that quest. It makes that final farewell feel a bit like an exclusionary kick in the pants.
Oh, Elyon. You were highly anticipated at one point. By me, even! But then you stripped out literally everything that made you interesting in order to become… well, TERA’s younger brother. And then you launched and no one took notice because as I said ages ago about another game, being “good enough” is not nearly enough in the MMO market at this point; that’s just cruise control to sunset. So now you’re shutting down, and I’m sad, but you already axed everything that would have made me really care.
Part of me wonders if Bluehole axed TERA in part for this game. If so… well, gosh, that was some real great thinking there.
This one honestly makes me at once chuckle and shake my head at the same time. When it was announced that TitanReach secured a last-minute angel investor to save the game, that sounded sketchy, especially since the version of the game that had been announced didn’t exactly sound like a great idea. But then it all shut down again, and then we found out why, and the whole thing just becomes hilarious when you look back at the people who got fleeced for this one and were angrily defending the project right up until the end. Sorry, folks.
4. Eternal Magic
You know what’s funny about Eternal Magic? In its shutdown the game is most known for being accused of plagiarism, and the only thing it was memorable before then were its beauty contests “for the girls.” This was an actual thing. What’s even funnier (not in a funny ha-ha sort of way) is that the game did actually last longer than Elyon. And now we have neither of them. We don’t even have TERA any more. That’s just sad.
5. EVE Valkyrie
When I did the Perfect Ten a little while back about studios that keep trying other projects and whiffing, someone noted that CCP Games rightly knows that it needs to have something to keep it going and justify its staff other than just EVE Online. This is true. The problem is twofold. First, the overlap between people who like cutthroat economic PvP and battles fought on spreadsheets and the people who like hectic shooter PvP is not quite as dense as you might think. Second, the company keeps making bad bets about what’s going to go over. So EVE Valkyrie has gone away for good now, and I don’t see many people mourning that.
6. Bless Unleashed
At this point the question is why anyone wants Bless Unleashed or anything to do with Bless. I mean, the answer is obviously that not a lot of people do because it’s shutting down on consoles (and if you don’t think that bodes ill for any other version, remember where this version first launched). But this isn’t a name that people will recognize, and if they do you would probably prefer they didn’t. It’s like naming your restaurant Donner’s Party Kitchen; it’s just not a good look. Maybe it’s going for a lifetime achievement contest with Hellgate: London? Has that shut down again this year? Did it come back this year? I can’t keep track any more.
7. Shadow Arena
All right, I suppose I’ll give some props to an MMO trying the “let’s repurpose what we’ve made into a battle royale” approach, so Shadow Arena earns some points. But not a whole lot of points, especially when you consider that I don’t think anyone has played Black Desert and said that it would be so much better if the game had more PvP in it. And now it’s shuttering. At least the main game is still fine, though, and I think this might be just about the end of the hasty battle royale repurposing?
8. Babylon’s Fall
Square-Enix’s publishing division seems to have seen that Final Fantasy XIV makes money hand over fist and taken the lesson that online games equal money, regardless of whether or not the online game in question is actually very good or not. Unfortunately, this coincides with the persistent rumor that Platinum Games can’t make a bad game, and then you wind up with this largely uninspired looter-slasher that has now Babylon Fallen. Or it will early next year, at least. Don’t buy it if you haven’t already, please.
9. Elite: Dangerous on consoles
It has not been smooth sailing for Elite Dangerous for a little while now, and that makes me sad. At first it was just not doing a great job with an expansion, and that’s a problem but one that can be recovered from. But then the problems just kept compounding, and ultimately Frontier just declared that it was done with trying to support the game on consoles to prioritize the PC. This is a bad look for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that it makes players across the board feel uneasy about the game’s future. It even makes outside observers leery.
Of course, this is before you get into the part where the developers kept pushing back the “actually supporting console players migrating to PC” dates… and then when it finally happened, it was a mess again.
10. Red Dead Online
It feels like it should have been really simple. Grand Theft Auto Online has continued to keep Grand Theft Auto V in the public consciousness for years and has definitely worked well as a continued set of stuff to do. So why not do the same thing, but in the Wild West? Apparently that’s a lot harder to do, since this game is quietly being allowed to ride into the sunset in permanent maintenance mode. It just hits different when it’s grand theft horse, that’s what I’m saying here.