Massively Multiplayer Online games (or “MMOs” for all the cool kids) offer gamers all around the world the chance to forge communities, have adventures, and pwn the heck out of one another in a way that few other forms of media allow. Countless hours and resources on the consumer end of things can take a game design team’s world beyond its’ original specs and turn it in to something truly unique.
For every World of Warcraft, which continues to stand strong as it ventures on to its 13th year, there are a litany of MMOs that eventually came to an end. The reasons are myriad; shifts in design teams, demand for return on investment, or loss of community interest have all led to once hotly anticipated games meeting an untimely demise. But because it’s the 21st century, these ephemeral swan songs have been captured by the fans that loved their virtual worlds, and we present to you today five of the most memorable MMO final moments.
The Matrix Online
Let’s start with the assumption that each and every one of these games had great potential that was unrealized. The Matrix Online definitely fits the bill, though it had a Sisyphean task of trying to win over hearts and minds after the hugely divisive Matrix sequels polarized fans of the franchise and weakened its staying power. Couple that with in-game bugs and iffy combat, and the game seemed doomed from the start. On its final night, each player was given access to the most powerful moves in-game, which led to HUGE graphical interface problems, and the memento mori of this franchise was every single player getting offed in one giant glitch in The Matrix itself. Not exactly the bang one could of expected, but fitting in its way.
Final Fantasy XIV
Another Final Fantasy? And this one’s an MMO?! Should’ve been a recipe for success, right? When the game was released in 2010, there were issues from the start that prevented the game from landing the way the design team intended. It staggered along for 2ish years, with Square Enix waving in-game fees and tweaking it as best they could to maintain the fan base which, while dedicated, was nonetheless frustrated with the game’s functionality. That said, when it came time to shutter the game for good, the company definitely put the “final” in Final Fantasy.
This is one of those rare circumstances where there was nothing intrinsically wrong with the game, but a shift in attention to the game’s sequel unfortunately led to the original’s demise. Daybreak Games actually had the two running simultaneously as recently as this year (not bad for a game that came out originally in 2003!), and what better way to end one of the most iconic sci-fi shoot-em-up MMOs?
Nuke ‘em from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.
City of Heroes/Villains
One of the most beloved MMOs out there, the City of Heroes community rallied around the game in a huge way. In 2012 amid a developer shift and a decision from the parent company that the franchise was no longer profitable, the assembled heroes and villains of Paragon City gathered together to see the sun set one last time over Atlas Park, and it was surprisingly touching.
Since that moment, fans have been rallying to rebuild the game (and its legendary character generator), and while the time has not yet come to re-enter the world of CoH/CoV, it certainly seems like that day is coming.
(Author’s Note: I miss this game every. Single. Day.)
Star Wars Galaxies
HOW COULD STAR WARS FAIL?!
As it turns out, bunch of different factors led up to the inevitable implosion, including feature creep, a proliferation of Jedi that threw the game off balance, and a contractual obligation that ended a year after the game was shuttered in 2011 (2003-2011 ain’t a bad run all things considered).
And go BOOM it did, with one last massive fight between the Galactic Empire and everyone else!
The Old Republic has definitely built on the mistakes of Star Wars Galaxies, and seems more vibrant than ever. It seems likely, too, that with the new attention brought by Rogue One and parent company Disney stewarding the property, we won’t have to say goodbye again any time soon.
What’s your favorite MMO that went boom before its time? LET US KNOW and especially share video!
Image Credit: LucasArts