Make My MMO: The biggest MMO crowdfunding stories of 2022


Welcome to a special edition of Make My MMO, Massively OP’s column keeping track of all the crowdfunding MMOs in our genre. Last year, the column got a big refresh with a handy tracker for games we’re watching – in some cases, we’re watching malingering, but it’s still watching. And this year, we put that tracker to the test because we actually saw several mid-tier crowdfunded MMORPGs fully launch for a wonder. Let’s run down the biggest news in this corner of the genre across the span of 2022.

Shroud of the Avatar and Lord Blockchain

Richard Garriott raised eyebrows this year when he announced Iron and Magic, a new blockchain-centric MMORPG (whose website promptly collapsed? It was a whole thing.). What he didn’t do was answer questions about Shroud of the Avatar, whose Kickstarter backers and actual investors he abandoned a few years ago. We’ve got a whole recap of the situation here, but it was updated in 2022 when the SeedInvest platform itself publicly stated that Catnip and Portalarium had eluded its accountability efforts. The game itself fared no better as its current lead dev is apparently working on Iron and Magic and SOTA suffered a catastrophic outage in the fall that saw the rollback of the game deep into summer.


After its poor launch and acquisition by Monumental in 2021, Crowfall wasn’t exactly on track for a massive 2022, and it really didn’t do much all year, but I don’t think anyone expected Monumental to actually sunset the game – and it did just that in November, promising players it’ll bring the game back online at some point with supposed significant revamps. Here’s hoping.

Legends of Aria

The MMO crowdfunded as Shards Online was itself bought out by a blockchain company at the end of 2021, so 2022 was one long run of watching the new owners wreck what little game was left. The new company initially announced an NFT-centric play-to-earn metaverse revamp, but it spent the year bungling its Steam presence, promising and then canceling plans for a  non-P2E server, sunsetting a classic server, trying to sell $70 random pay-to-win characters, and then changing the blockchain version’s name to BRITARIA even as its token failed. The only good news here is that Legends of Aria is still technically playable and gamers are still running player-run shards.

So many MMO launches

OK, that was three bad stories in a row. How ’bout them launches! While none of these titles is going to shake the foundations of the genre, we’re happy to see them live anyway.

  • Sci-fi MMO Dual Universe officially launched in September; it brought in $630K from Kickstarter six years ago.
  • VR MMO Zenith launched in January, and though we’re still waiting on the PC version promised during the Kickstarter, this is now the reigning champ of cyberpunk MMOs.
  • Embers Adrift rolled out in October as a bit of an indie sleeper hit for the old-school MMO crowd; it was Kickstarted as Saga of Lucimia, which went through a saga of drama in 2020, but these devs brought it to the finish line.
  • Critter-capture MMO Temtem had been in early access since last year, but it formally launched in September after five years of post-Kickstarter development.
  • Retro MMO Genfanad funded this summer and launched just a few months later.
  • And of course, Dynamight Studios’ Fractured Online hit early access in the fall under the Gamigo banner. It’s been a bit of a slow burn, but it’s here.

Star Citizen’s half-billion-dollar boondoggle

You surely already know that neither Star Citizen nor Squadron 42 is even close to launching because the developers said so themselves. That didn’t stop the games from reaching half a billion dollars in crowdfunds or stop the devs from blaming COVID for slowdowns, working on bizarrely granular features like bedsheet deformation and hygiene, altering the deal, altering another deal, bombing CitizenCon, and reducing communications. So, the usual, really.

Chronicles of Elyria

The lawsuit that Chronicles of Elyria backers were waging against Soulbound Studio came to an unfortunate end in 2022 as a judge tossed the case, meaning studio boss Jeromy Walsh won’t be held accountable for refunds for the game he canceled and then uncanceled and claims to be working on. Of course, the game has been out of money for years anyway, is half a million dollars in debt, and has no apparent prospects for achieving its supposed 2024 launch. Walsh called the lawsuit’s dismissal a “victory to both all those who have, or will use crowdfunding as a source of seed funding for innovative projects, as well as (and most importantly) the backers of Chronicles of Elyria” (excepting, we assume, the ones who were trying to sue him); he also characterized the lawsuit as one phase in the “the hero’s journey” through which Soulbound is “ascending.” It was really something.

Camelot Unchained, Pantheon, and Ashes of Creation

In my head, this trio of games constitutes the three main fantasy titles on the Kickstarter horizon. Ashes of Creation largely kept its head down this year as development continues. Pantheon dragged its heels on releases but did spent plenty of ink on its hiring and $2.4M in additional funding. And Camelot Unchained’s communication dwindled over 2022, though City State ended the year with a muffled sort of bang, announcing – to the tech industry, not to MMORPG players or backers – that it had picked up another $15M in investment to finish the games and engine.


We brought a huge stack of receipts to our reporting on MMO TitanReach, whose crowdfunding community had previously brigaded us for our skeptical reporting – twice – after the developers pulled switcheroos with their funding and statements about working conditions. Karma came calling in 2022 and our skepticism proved warranted as the game went up in smoke after the angel investor pulled his funding after catching the lead developer embezzling company funds to invest in crypto, pay off debts, and buy a Tesla. A second developer in the company also stole funds, according to the investor, who apparently refused to prosecute the people who stole from him. “In a book this would have all been called foreshadowing,” MOP’s Eliot said.

Minor clownshows

Yeah, there always are a few of these.

  • We’re pretty salty about Destiny’s Sword: It was originally pitched and crowdfunded as a sci-fi MMO that focused on maintaining the mental health of the characters, but when it resurfaced this fall after a lapse in comms, it became clear that a new studio had taken it over and released it as a single-player title (and it failed). Of course, the original team at 2Dogs never ‘fessed up to whatever happened along the way, which means yet another shady Kickstarter with a failed game.
  • Remember the DreamWorld fiasco last year? Well, believe it or not, the developers claimed to have pushed the game into early access this past fall, although of course what it actually released is pretty much a prefab-asset-laden shell of what you’d expect from an MMORPG.
  • Seed ran into one bungle after another; it picked up investment from a crypto blockchain outfit, then had to take its website and comms offline over a C&D filed by a sugar daddy dating website claiming to own it. Yep, that happened.

A few more crowdfunding stories…

What would you say was the biggest MMO crowdfunding story of the year?

Yes, some crowdfunded MMOs most definitely do succeed. But others crash and burn, and you need to hear about the whole spectrum of games that sought your money early in exchange for the promise of input and transparency. And that’s exactly what Make My MMO does every Saturday. Help us keep ’em accountable, would ya?
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