Sony Online Entertainment Shuttering Four MMOs in 2014

Sony Online Entertainment Shuttering Four MMOs in 2014

Vanguard SOH

Sony Online Entertainment will be closing down Free Realms, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes and Wizardry Online this year.

Over the course its existence, Sony Online Entertainment has been the force behind a considerable number of MMOs both big and popular. That being the case, success in the online multiplayer sphere can often shift at the drop of a hat, forcing companies to constantly re-evaluate if it's worth it to keep certain games going. Sadly, SOE has recently found itself in the unfortunate position of having to do just that and, in turn, has revealed that it will be closing down four of its MMOs this year.

"It is with a heavy heart that we announce our decision to discontinue development on Free Realms, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes and Wizardry Online," said Michael Cagel, SOE's senior director of global communications. More specifically, gamers can expect Free Realms and Star Wars: CWA to close down on March 31st with Wizardry Online and Vanguard following a few months later on July 31st. According to Cagel, the company is announcing the impending closures now so players "have time to adjust to the news and make plans to enjoy the time remaining in these games."

According to SOE, the reasons for each of the announced closures vary. While the company is "proud of what [it] accomplished" with Free Realms, for instance, it says that "players are moving on to other games." Clone Wars Adventures would seem to be a similar case of players "growing up" and discovering other titles. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes was apparently a harder decision, due to it being one of SOE's "longest running games." That said, its "decreasing player population" has apparently made it difficult to "justify" the time and effort required to keep it going. Less information was offered as to the reasons behind Wizardry Online's closure, but it was stated that the decision was mutual between SOE and "our partners at Gamepot." Thankfully, the company has confirmed that there will be no cuts to its staff as a result of these closures.

Source: IGN

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Haven't heard of any of these games.

Shame too, I like most things Star Warsy.

Wow, it's really tragic to hear... what? who? These were a thing?

Probably not the Star Wars one, but were these some of those MMO's that were really popular in Japan or S. Korea but virtually unknown in the West? Because I'm drawing up four big blanks here.

Chimpzy:
Probably not the Star Wars one, but were these some of those MMO's that were really popular in Japan or S. Korea but virtually unknown in the West? Because I'm drawing up four big blanks here.

Vanguard was popular initially due to some interesting game mechanics, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures was kind of a tie in to the clone wars animated show.

Cant say if Free Realms was any good or not, or if Wizardry Online was half way decent.

But hey, here I was thinking that Everquest or something was on the chopping block, glad to hear that its still safe from being shut down.

I'm genuinely curious why these things need some sort of minimum support staff. It seems to me that support needs would scale with usage, and if anything, that support structure would be smaller per-person at smaller scales. It doesn't cost much to leave a server up.

I don't understand why MMO's shutter with people still playing them.

Star Wars was kind of to be expected with the house of mouse take over. Moreso considering the basing animated series has also been shut down. Honestly I wonder how much longer it will be before Mikey up and ganks ToR.

Free Realms is rather surprising really. You would think they would protect their feeder MMO they put together to try and indoctrinate kids before they could even make it to WoW.

Wizardry is really disappointing. In fact I had been planning to give it a whirl, just got too much on the backlog.

However, Vanguard, I am surprised lasted this long. I recall trying it a couple years ago and even then it was a complete ghost town. It was really to be expected too considering how quickly Brad "The Vision" McQuaid bailed. It was left in a pretty rough and seemingly incomplete shape then, and it had been out for quite a while. (Im thinking circa 09-10 ish) Honestly Vanguard always seemed like a foolish acquisition, because it was buying too much redundancy that conflicted with EQ & EQ2 at the time.

It is not the first time SoE has culled flagging properties. Likely wont be the last either. With newer properties like Dragons Prophet, and the incoming EQ Next, it is not surprising at all that they are making room.

and here i was hoping DCUO would be on that list ... oh well.

be nice of sony made an MMO what was fun for more then five minutes though.

Who edited this thing?

the force behind a considerable of MMOs

...said Michael Cagel, SOE's senior director of global communications...According to Cagle, the company is announcing...

That said, it's "decreasing player population"

I remember being hyped for Vanguard around its release many years ago.

Shame to see it go.

Korskarn:
Who edited this thing?

the force behind a considerable of MMOs

...said Michael Cagel, SOE's senior director of global communications...According to Cagle, the company is announcing...

That said, it's "decreasing player population"

Eepers. Thanks much!

Out of all of these I'm most bummed to see Wizardry Online end. I never got around to actually playing it (my PC is kind of junky), but it really intrigued me. Oh well...

I can't tell what's worse, that there are so many MMORPGs that seeing four of them die is a meaningless footnote in the grand sea of MMORPGs, or the fact that there are so many MMORPGs to begin with.

There aren't enough human beings in the world for all of the MMO's out there, let alone enough people with reliable internet.

Wizardy could have been good. From what I remember they basically tried to make a Dark Souls MMO. It's biggest problem being the fact that it was an MMO. When I played it I was doing fairly well. I hadn't died yet and was having fun. I noticed a trap on the ground so I moved around to avoid it. Only to have some random player that I didn't know run straight into killing both him and me. I respawn and something along the same lines happened again so I gave up.

Vanguard should have already died long ago. It followed Brad McQuaid's idea of rigid class structures, holy trinity, etc etc, with antiquated notions of singular roles without deviation. There were some gems in the game - the crafting system and diplomacy skill line were quite fun and the game itself was rather beautiful, but the game's core graphic engine showed its age from the outset, with its inability to process large, complex environments and a constant need to flush the game cache due to memory leaks that exist to this day. I tried to go back when it went F2P but the game just wasn't fun to me anymore and SOE's idea of F2P frankly can bite me.

I'm kind of surprised to see Vanguard last as long as it did. It's been out for a while so it had a good run, despite it's multitude of technical problems. Wizardry getting taken down is kind of a shock to me - I really liked what that game was trying to do in terms of giving a younger audience a chance to experience an MMO without having to pay. I feel kind of bad, where I work we sell their cards and we have a couple of kids that come in and buy them every time they get their allowance.

As someone that played the original Star Wars Galaxies (not that shit they replaced it with) I'm always sad to see someone's MMO get yanked out from under them. I know there are a lot of people out there that want to see certain games fail, but I don't like to think like that. Sure it'd be awesome if WoW was no longer such a heavy influence amongst the genre, but put yourselves in the position of those players that would never again be able to return to their favorite world. If I found out that SWTOR or FFXIV were getting shut down tomorrow I would be sad indeed.

Well, to be honest, I'm hoping there are some legal/political complaints over this that cause the whole EULA system and MMO business structure to be re-evaluated. Largely because some of these games like "Free Realms" are ones where people have literally paid hundreds if not thousands of dollars in terms of virtual property, all of which disappears if SoE takes them down. This going back to my comments about how the laws should require MMOs that sell virtual property for real money to be backed by a trust to ensure the perpetual operation of the game and it's servers.

That said, I'm aware of all of these MMOs and at least tried all of them. "Clone Wars Adventures" dying is no surprise, I avoided that one, but it's pretty much the title a lot of SWG fans held up as a sign of Sony being unfair when they closed SWG. After all Sony's comments about the cost of the license and similar things made no sense given that they were already maintaining and running another Star Wars game. It being heavily tied to the "Clone Wars Adventures" universe and when that cartoon went the way of the Dodo bird it doesn't surprise me that the game based on it followed soon after. "Vanguard" was a nice idea for a hardcore MMO but never seemed to be able to deliver on a lot of what it promised or was trying to be, I'm actually surprised it lasted this long, but personally I was never that impressed by it, though I DO think as a basic template it's something a lot of MMO developers with more talent and bigger budgets might want to look towards. "Free Realms" was basically a kiddie theme part styled as a cartoon wonderland, where you'd run around and play minigames (combat being one of these, and not available to all character types) I believe it was intended to sort of compete with "Toontown" it was interesting but I was too old for it when I tried it, it's biggest claim to fame seems to be that it was playable on the PS-3 system which is why I tried it to begin with. "Wizardry" was a pretty bare bones affair with some pretty pathetic production values, I tried it as I am a HUGE Wizardry fan and to this day mourn the loss of "Sir Tech" and that we will never see a "Wizardry 9". The big selling point of "Wizardry" seemed to be the name and the alleged "permadeath" system which was not quite what was presented. Basically you created a "soul" and as you played it became more powerful. You'd lose characters, oftentimes quite arbitrarily, but overall it was fairly easy to make and level new ones, and the game largely involved changing your mentality to thinking of the soul as your character as opposed to the character you were actually controlling. To be honest in my limited time with it, I couldn't quite figure out who it was oriented at, being both fairly bare bones to my eyes, and also not exactly the hardcore experience it was presenting itself as. It seemed like a poster child for a low grade Japanese product that despite some interesting ideas probably never would have made it to the US for being well... kind of crap, despite fans liking the sound of it, but somehow made it through the filter anyway.

At any rate it doesn't shock me that the reaper's axe is hitting these games, especially seeing as SoE has killed games far better than this. That said some of these are big time cash shop games, and it will be interesting to see if they retain enough interest to get complaints, and if so what happens if politicians take notice and start looking into changing the laws. Honestly I half expect that this might be the intent here since the damage done by something like "Freerealms" would probably be minimal compared to the damage inflicted if hardcore fanboys really got riled over the loss of DC Universe Online or something like that. What's more a battle now, on a smaller scale, could presumably help create precedents they could use later if the current laws survived and weren't changed after a limited scale challenge. Of course that's paranoia on my part. Truthfully the only companies with games out there that would "hurt" me due to investment if they went down are properties from Cryptic and Funcom.

 

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