Sooner or later we all have to face facts and accept that something we wanted at one point is never actually going to happen. Dad is never coming back from the store with cigarettes, Godot is never going to show up on stage, and you are never actually going to find out who let the dogs out. It sort of sucks, it can be unpleasant, but your life will be better once you just accept that these were beautiful dreams that never came true. And that’s true for MMOs, too. This is good because this is not actually a site about how Dad is not coming back from the store.
Some of these games are crowdfunded. Some are not. Some of these items are about launches, and some of them are just promised updates that are never going to happen however much you might want them to happen. But if you are still sitting there clapping your hands so that Tinkerbell doesn’t die, it’s time to let it go. There was never an actual Tinkerbell. Mary Martin lied to you. Please stop clapping.
1. Star Citizen and Squadron 42
I understand that you want a big expansive space sim. I have good news: They already exist. They have existed for years, in fact. Star Citizen is not going to be that. Star Citizen is an overcomplicated project that keeps suffering from endless scope creep, is a decade out from when it was supposed to be done, and is buoyed by people who are willing to believe that it’s going to be revolutionary so long as you ignore all of the games that have actually come out offering all of the relevant experiences already.
Look, I love to dunk on bedsheet deformation as much as anyone, but consider the date on that story. That’s from last year. Stop carrying water for people taking ever larger amounts of money to deliver even less while getting pissy at people asking if a game is, like… going to happen sometime within the next decade.
2. Skull and Bones
For one brief moment, Skull and Bones looked like a good idea to somebody. That’s fine. While “be a pirate” is not something on my wishlist, not every game needs to appeal to me. However, that moment was 2017, it is now 2023, and I don’t see anyone staying jazzed about this one in spite of its approaching launch after six massive delays. When you factor in Ubisoft’s entire modus operandi at this point, it’s hard to picture a world where this is worth continuing to care about beyond, like… marking dates.
3. Chronicles of Elyria
Do you want absolute proof positive that this is never going to be a thing? Sure. Do you know what platform Chronicles of Elyria is supposed to be developed on? That’s right, Unity. For once in this non-game’s entire misbegotten non-development saga, it would be possible to say that the game is going to be delayed for reasons that actually are totally out of the studio’s control. It’d be like having video of being attacked by Viscorous the Homework Eating Dog right before school. You can finally sound credible.
And the response has been… nothing. So, yeah.
4. Camelot Unchained
Look, I don’t actually take some great satisfaction in pointing out that pipe dreams are… you know, pipe dreams. It’s not exactly a security blanket. I would like for Camelot Unchained to come out and actually be impressive. The problem is, again, that the title has been in development for like a decade and seems no closer to launch now than it seemed five years ago. And with all of the drama that has erupted around the title since then, like… do you see an ending where this all turns out well? Do you realistically see me writing an article called “Wow, I was hella wrong about CU?” I don’t. Sorry.
5. Alganon coming back online
I know this game has fans. I do genuinely believe that Derek Smart wants to bring it back online after it was basically shut down in a manner more befitting going out for cigarettes and never coming back. But that revival has been promised for several years now, the game was not exactly a blockbuster beforehand, and it strikes me as an odd effort to really lose sleep over. (Again, though… the game has fans! If I am wrong, I will be happy.)
6. Ashes of Creation
Welcome to the new era of “always promise, never deliver.” Have you forgotten about this game’s brief battle royale spinoff that nobody (OK, one person) liked and quietly got sent to the Forgetting Closet? I haven’t. I’m not saying that Ashes of Creation is doomed to be terrible, but at this rate it again feels like it’s long since stopped getting any closer to launch while promising more and more. And I have seen this dance before. In the first entry on this list, even.
7. Throne & Liberty
I just wrote an article about this, right? I don’t have to write it again, right? Please tell me I don’t have to write it again.
8. Shroud of the Avatar: Episode 2
It is, in some ways, a minor miracle that Shroud of the Avatar actually made it to launch. Time has shown that an awful lot of crowdfunded games do not even make it to that landmark, and when a game does, we should acknowledge that and be happy it happened. And while many crowdfunded games sound bad from first principles, failing before ever reaching launch does not actually prove that the pitch was bad.
However, by launching as an actual game, Shroud of the Avatar must be judged not as a concept that could eventually be executed well but as an actual game. And in that… well, it tanked. Horribly. So even though the game has launched, it is still trying to keep the crowdfunding cycle going by promising a second episode that is now supposedly still in development. Sure, Jan.
9. Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen
I’m not going to pretend that I am the target audience for the late Brad McQuaid’s design philosophy, but I also remember interviewing him one year and being genuinely impressed and warmed by the interview. Far from being someone who expected that everyone would just want to treat a new game the way they treated old games in the past, he seemed genuinely aware of the fact that MMORPGs no longer are just a social hangout spot and engineering his ideal play environment would take work, tools, and experimentation. It was a fun interview!
But we lost McQuaid, and now… well, the game is still sort of trundling along but still feels like it’s just marking time and like it’s not really getting closer to launch. And I’m not confident the people now in charge of the project are on the same level as McQuaid, especially considering that time when they floated the idea of funding the game via NFTs. Yeah, that was a thing that happened.
10. The mythological antediluvian version of World of Warcraft where everyone wanted to be your friend
A small part of me had hoped that the particularly noxious voices around World of Warcraft who insisted that the game used to be hard and more social and so forth would – when faced with the reality of WoW Classic – be forced to examine reality and acknowledge that perhaps these statements were actually wrong. Instead we got the goalposts moved and Season of Mastery and the title’s current elitist slide into irrelevance, which is of course everybody else’s fault. Oh well.