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Reader Comments (15)

Posted: Jan 27th 2011 8:21AM JeffT4 said

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Once the parent company comes to the conclusion that the game has fallen past the point where it can support itself and produce profit, then it is better for that company to release it into the open-source environment and let the communities take over.

Can't wait for WoW to get to this point. There's going to be a LOT of people going cold-turkey!

Posted: Jan 27th 2011 9:16AM Matix said

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@JeffT4 Gotta agree 100%. Legally, under copyright, the game is a "work for hire" and won't be legal to play with for "95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter" but, IMHO, once a title is abandonware the company should do the cool things and just let the people have it.

Only thing I'd add is the legal stuff--make sure there's a notice as to who developed the software initially but make it plane that it was discontinued and the original developer is no longer supporting it and it not liable for anything.
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Posted: Jan 28th 2011 1:07AM ShivanSwordsman said

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@JeffT4

I agree with this. Sega's stopped the US servers for Phantasy Star Universe, and killed PSO a while ago. They should hand it over to the private servers, sell it to a company that will love it, update it, and add new stuff to it as a F2P (WITHOUT a breaking cash shop, give it EXP boosters and whatnot), or give a free month or two to everyone with a free download, just to test what people actually think about it. Look at Starsiege Tribes, it STILL has a community, and became freeware officially, with privately hosted servers.

I see a lot of really great games getting the axe here lately. Exteel died, Dungeon Runners died, Tabula Rasa died (... and all NCSoft games.). Some already were F2P, but I know several folks that longed for Tabula Rasa to go F2P to give it the longevity it really needed. It was just starting to shape up somewhat, they just needed to expand the end game and PvP, it felt like a very long dev test. A fun one though.

I see a lot of MMOs going long, long into the future, likely supported by their bigger game cousins. That's actually one of my big hopes, that they continue to improve the games as they go on, though a lot of these Korean MMOs feel forgotten about and "done" with content. A part of me longs to see that all my hard work be there 30 years from now, since I mostly MMO instead of Console game now, but I know the business side of it as well. One can always hope, though, can't they?
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Posted: Jan 27th 2011 8:29AM Greyhame said

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I think that the game should stay up as long as the company is willing to keep it going. While it would be nice if a company would keep a MMO going that is not making them money, I also don't see that happening either.

After that, it depends. I could be released open source to allow people to play, but I don't see that happening very often.

Posted: Jan 27th 2011 8:47AM Jade Effect said

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I doubt MMO companies will release their titles into public domain. Should they wish to revive their title or make a sequel one day, the whole copyright ownership issue becomes murky, not to mention they'll have to start competing against all these private servers. That's just shooting themselves in the foot.

In addition, it's a huge mess if the original ip owner which the game is based on is involved, who will take a very dim view of losing control of their ip. How will the Tolkien estate react if Turbine release LoTRO into public domain and some nut start to use the game's artwork and lore to make a porn game?

At best, they sell the whole title to another company to continue running the game.

Posted: Jan 27th 2011 9:15AM Katt said

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The death of an MMO is always sad for the players but it reminds us that all that gear and virtual cash is just a load of 1s and 0s at the end of the day, it's not real.

That "level 9000 long sword of ultimate pwnage" you spend 250 hours grinding for actually means nothing at all.

When the servers close all you are left with is the fun you had, nothing else actually matters.



Posted: Jan 27th 2011 9:52AM Letrange said

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Meh, Hilmar is on record as saying there's no reason EVE Online couldn't last 50 years, so long as they keep developing it and improving the technology as it comes out. Quite a few players that started in 2003 and 2004 are still around in 2011 so yep, no reason not to keep it going if you don't hit the subscriber death spiral. Of course EVE's population graph is very very different from most MMOs so other MMOs mileage may vary.

To bring up a music analogy: It's the difference between a pop idol and a jazz musician. A lot of MMOs seem to burn bright and then slowly dwindle off into the sunset. Or burn bright and flame out. Depending on the examples you're holding up.

Posted: Jan 27th 2011 9:54AM Yukon Sam said

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Meridian 59 is still running after 16 years. Ultima Online: 14 years. Everquest: 12 years. Certain MUDS have been around for a quarter-century now.

There's no law or principle that says death is inevitable for a multi-user game. All you need to be viable is enough revenue to pay for the servers, a few support people and maybe a developer or two to keep things interesting.

On the other hand, a strong modular design and philosophy could adapt to anything the market throws at it, including radical and unforseen platform shifts, and survive competitively forever. I don't know if anything on the market today meets that criteria.

But there are titles that understand this much: if you build a strong, invested player community, it's going to take more than a truck of eyecandy to blast them out.

Posted: Jan 27th 2011 10:22AM xilr said

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"how do you propose they keep on running when the subscriber base no longer generates enough income to cover the costs?"

Further development costs money. Customer service costs money. Most MMOs have terrible customer service anyways, as it is the only industry where "The customer is always wrong" in their opinion.

Eve proved for many of its first years that you dont need very many subscribers to cover hardware maintenance and bandwidth costs. If an MMO is "Dead" I'd say turn off future development, turn off customer service (not like we'd miss it anyways) and use subscriptions to cover the hardware depreciation and minimal operating costs.

Posted: Jan 27th 2011 12:02PM Seffrid said

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There's no moral or legal case for non-viable privately developed MMO's to be released into the public domain, and I can see no reason why a developer would want to do so. When a developer decides that a game can no longer be supported then it should be closed down.

The players will have voted with their wallets and if there aren't enough of them then I'm afraid that's tough on the loyal few but no different to a local restaurant or shop etc that closes down through lack of customers. No-one argues that those premises should be handed over to the community to run and the idea that computer games are any different is a nonsense.

Posted: Jan 27th 2011 4:01PM Pingles said

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I'd like to believe that the people who get abandoned by shut down MMOs will hesitate before going back to the company that shuttered the game. But who am I kidding? If they pick the right IP for their next project everyone will be jumping in head first.

I truly don't think the MMOs that have shut down have done so because they are losing money. It's because they are not making AS MUCH money as the company would like. They decide to put those resources towards a project with a brighter future.

How many subscribers does it take to keep a few servers running with a support crew?

Posted: Jan 27th 2011 4:32PM Seffrid said

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@Pingles

Where do you place your savings? Have you ever switched your investment because, although it was making some money it wasn't making AS MUCH money as you would like?

Businesses are no different to individuals. Game developers are running a business and of course they need to make a certain level of return on their investment otherwise they're going to switch their investment elsewhere, just as you would do in that situation with your own investment.

Some players seem to think that developers owe them a lifetime opportunity to allow them to play a game they're paying a monthly subscription for and to place the game code into the public domain if they want to close it down, but I'm afraid those players are living in the clouds. Life isn't like that, and there's no reason why it should be.

Posted: Jan 27th 2011 6:00PM Pingles said

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@Seffrid

Yes, a company has every right to put their money where they want but they are taking on a responsibility as well.

When a company creates an environment and invites folks to PAY them to live in it and perhaps devote QUITE a bit of their spare time in it I believe they are creating a pact with their users.

No, they don't have a responsibility to you forever. But I think stuff like Matrix and Tabula Rasa are pretty quick ends considering how long Dark Age of Camelot has lasted with only a few thousand subscribers.

They can't be making a ton of money. But they are serving their customers well and it was certainly one of the things I considered when I signed up for Warhammer.
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Posted: Jan 28th 2011 8:37AM Seffrid said

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@Tempes Magus

"Therefore, leaving a subscription game means absolutely abandoning it as a player."

Nonsense.

I have subscriptions for EQ, VG, EQ2, WAR, FE, WoW and AoC and play all of them on an occasional basis. Whenever I want to play one of the for a while I renew my sub but I never have more than a couple running at a time. There's absolutely no question of a player having to abandon a subscription game, he simply cancels the sub and renews it later if he wants to return.

Posted: Jan 28th 2011 9:15AM Seffrid said

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@Tempes Magus

Forgive me if I don't read all your comments, but I have read enough of them to know that you haven't proved your point at all. Having the facility to return to a subscription game at any time does not mean that player necessarily abandons it. I am far from being the only player who dips in and out of games these days, with the market as over-crowded as it is there's no other way of playing more than a single game.

It's no harder to dip in and out of a P2P game than it is to do so with a F2P game, that was my point and it remains completely valid. If it happens to be your tactic never to return to a P2P game once you cancel the sub then that's your right, but there are plenty who don't operate that way but come and go as it pleases them.

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