Each year more games end up in the great gaming graveyard and 2013 was no exception. So join us as we take a look back at a few of the online games whose fates were sealed this year.
Despite boasting more than 300 million registered users, the 2D side-scrolling hack-and-slash title Dungeon Fighter Online was laid to rest in NA back in June when Nexon opted to shut the game down.
Even Scrooge McDuck wasnt rich enough to save Toontown Online. The kid-friendly MMORPG headed to the great animated graveyard back in September when Disney shifted its development focus to other online and mobile games. One casualty of that decision the citizens of Toontown.
Grimlands, the post-apocalyptic online world from DRAGO Entertainment, suffered a pre-launch apocalypse of its own when publisher gamigo pulled out of the project. Developer DRAGO Entertainment tried to save the game by turning to Kickstarter, but the campaign was cancelled when it failed to gain any momentum after the first two weeks. While the game currently seems to be dead in the water, the only possible saving grace was the final update to the Kickstarter page back in April that stated that the developer was in negotiation with a number of investors to try and revive the project.
Mythos has had an interesting history. The game was originally a tech test at now defunct Flagships Studios. Flagship later went belly-up and Hanbitsoft took control of the property and launched Mythos under publisher Frogster back in April 2011. Frogster shut the game down the following October. But it didnt end there. Hanbitsoft and T3Fun later resurrected the title as Mythos Global. Unfortunately, Mythos is now standing at the precipice of doom once again and is scheduled to shut down for the last time January 22nd, 2014.
Netmarble launched its free-to-play shooter District 187: Sin Streets in NA back in November 2012. But less than a year out on October 3, 2013, Netarble pulled the plug on District 187, just short of its first anniversary and committing a 187 (a police code for murder) of its own.
Bigpoint announced their endeavor to bring a browser-based MMOG following the events of The Mummy Returns movie around mid-2011 with The Mummy Online. The title never managed to unravel itself from beta before Bigpoint sent the Mummy back to his tomb. To be honest, I would be surprised if you had ever even heard of this one as Bigpoint didnt seem to promote it much, and when the plug was pulled earlier this year, it was done without much fanfare. Once it was all over, the only evidence that it had ever existed, at the time, was in a now deleted Facebook and forum post. I guess The Mummy was just too tightly wrapped for its own good. (no more Mummy puns I promise)
It was a bad year if you were a Universal Monster in a Bigpoint game. Bigpoint pulled the plug on its Universal Monsters Online MOBA at the same that they put an end to The Mummy Online. And like The Mummy Online, I wouldnt blame you if you had never heard of it. Both games were poorly promoted and died somewhat quick deaths.
SOE announced a partnership with Wizards of the Coast back in 2009 to create Magic: The Gathering - Tactics, which we got our first look at in 2010. Based on the Magic: The Gathering universe, Tactics is a 3D turn-based strategy game featuring powerful spell cards, single player campaigns, and competitive multiplayer PvP. And while its not technically dead yet, SOE has already putt Magic: The Gathering - Tactics on life support and it will officially meet its demise on March 28th, 2014.
Twisted Tribes multiplayer game Nadirim, first developed by Digital Reality, also met its demise this year. Nadirim, an Arabian-themed fantasy multiplayer game featuring quests, duels, and evil djinn, launched in November 2011. Twisted Tribes made the decision to shut the game down on June 30th, 2013 after 2 years of service.
Even the charismatic Captain Jack Sparrow and the Black Pearl couldnt save Pirates of the Caribbean Online from sinking down to Davey Jones Locker. While the MMOG set in the movie series universe allowed players to create their own pirates and captain a ship, Disney loaded up all of the pirates and sailed them out to sea one last time just before sending the game down to its watery grave on September 19th, 2013.
Acony Games and SOE partnered to launch the reality TV-based shooter Bullet Run back in July 2012. I could make a thousand jokes about how reality TV needs to die, but this game did it instead. After only 8 months after its launch, SOE put a bullet in Bullet Run, sending the shooter to that great reality TV show in the sky. After the closure announcement from SOE, developer Acony Games ceased its own support for Bullet Run and the studio later shut down citing "commercial realities" that "made continued support for it unsustainable."
During its brief stay with us, Bullet Run was criticized as being more pay-to-win than free-to-play and suffered from fairly poor review scores on Metacritic.
One surprise cancellation this year came by way of EA pulling the plug on Command & Conquer. The free-to-play installment of the franchise was set to include all of the Command & Conquer series from Red Alert to Generals all in one online universe. But that didnt quite work out as planned as EA shuttered developer Victory Studios and shelved the game back in October.
All is not lost, however. After the cancellation, EA confirmed that Command & Conquer will return in the future under a new developer with a new vision. As for this version of Command & Conquer, you can consider it a casualty of 2013.
Otherland, the promising free-to-play MMOG based on the works of Tad Williams, was in development by Real U with gamigo set to publish in NA and EU. Based on the novel series of the same name, Otherland included various worlds in a vast multiverse ranging from cyberpunk to medieval. Unfortunately, development on Otherland was unceremoniously brought to an end this year when developer RealU was hit with layoffs when parent company dtp Entertainment entered insolvency.
Gamigo has retained the publishing rights for NA and EU and, according to one of the last gamigo posts on the Otherland forums, theyre hopeful that a deal can be reached to complete the game another way. But for now, Otherland secures its spot on our list with a slight chance of resurrection.
Anyone remember this game? If you dont remember it or have never heard of it its understandable given the games shaky history in development. Take a deep breath folks, this is a long one.
Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online initially began development at THQ development studio Vigil Games back in 2007 as an MMOG. Before THQ went belly-up, they released a trailer for the game and made a number of announcements about the MMOGs development. Just a couple of those include a 2011 comment that the development budget was around $50 million, and that it was expected to release in the 2012 fiscal year. Obviously that didnt happen.
By the time 2012 rolled around, rumors were circulating that the game had been cancelled. THQ denied the rumors, but a few months later the publisher released an announcement that Vigils development focus for Warhammer 40k: Dark Millennium Online had shifted from creating an MMOG to creating an immersive single player and online multiplayer experience with robust digital content, and engaging community features.
When THQ had its big financial blowout in 2012, War40ks development took yet another turn following layoffs. After that, even THQ seemed to have no idea if the game was still in development, cancelled, coming back, or turned into My Little Ponies: Warhammer Edition. Despite unconfrmed speculation (true though it may be) that the project was canned in 2012, we can certainly say that the final decisive nail in the coffin that finally put this unfortunate game out of its long and tormented misery came following the THQ bankruptcy auction back in January, when Vigil Games was one of the few unfortunate fleshy parts left on the rotting corpse that was once THQ. Other publishers picked the rest clean, but Vigil and its team of developers were unfortunately left behind.
On a positive note for Warhammer 40k fans, you do have two options coming up with Behaviour Interactives Warhammer 40k: Eternal Crusade MMOG and Eutechnyxs MOBA style Warhammer 40k: Storm of Vengeance.
Mythics endeavor to dive into the MOBA market with Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes earlier this year came to a bit of a premature end. Wrath of Heroes utilized parts of Warhammer Online to create a PvP-focused three-way battle set up using a free-to-play model with some colorful heroes. But even that couldnt save this game from an early demise. Wrath of Heroes was officially shuttered on March, 29th, 2013 before ever having an official release.
It was a rough year for Warhammer in the online gaming space. Along with the previously mentioned cancelled titles, the largest of the three bearing the Warhammer brand, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, also met its demise when Mythic pulled the plug on the servers for the final time on Wednesday, December 18th, 2013, effectively putting an end to the 5 year war between the factions of Order and Destruction. According to Mythic, the licensing deal with Games Workshop expired, and thus so too did the MMORPG.
While it wasnt as widely broadcasted as some previous closures, the devoted fans of Warhammer Online tried in vain until the last second to save the game through petitions and other means. But in the end, the plug was pulled on the war and servers went dark for the last time.
Adam Clegg, who formerly worked on Warhammer at EA/Mythic before joining Mark Jacobs at City State Entertainment, has called on EA to release one final build of the game with a developer single player option enabled. While it wont be Warhammer Online without other players, it can serve as a way to preserve the hard work by so many developers. If EA were to do that, it would at least put one positive note on this rather dismal list, but Id be lying if I said that I was optimistic about that ever happening.
And that is the grim list of 2013. Stay tuned to Ten Ton Hammer as we head into 2014 for a new generation of online games and hopefully a shorter list of dead ones in the coming year.