Week In Review: Sony Offline Entertainment

MarvelGame 2014-05-19 15-08-48-84

I’ve discovered a newfound love for Ultima Forever. Once you carve out the ridiculous cash shop mechanics, get rid of gear degradation, and drop gold keys like they’re candy, the game is a lot of fun to play. It’s almost disappointing that Electronic Arts will be shutting down Ultima Forever on August 29th, but it’s hard to say that it wasn’t deserved. Mythic Entertainment will best be known for Dark Age of Camelot and Warhammer Online, the latter being much beloved by its fans despite its commercial failings, its other recent ventures (Wrath of Heroes, Ultima Forever, Dungeon Keeper Mobile) will likely fade into obscurity.

Naturally, when it rains it pours. This week also marked the sunsetting of two more Sony Online Entertainment titles. I can’t say I was entirely surprised when SOE revealed that Vanguard couldn’t be fixed due to issues deep within the game’s engine. Vanguard was a collection of great ideas implemented rather shoddily on a foundation made of crepe paper. The idea that the game wasn’t runing a profit is hardly surprising when you factor in that the game spent so long in a dormant state that, in 2011, it was a massive surprise just to see the game getting patched. Vanguard did go free to play, but the response was meek at best.

Wizardry Online, on the other hand, will continue to live on in its native Japan. Depending on how they view the market, Gamepot may either decide to open up a global server or bring on a different publisher to host Wizardry Online in North America and Europe. Given the game’s tepid response under Sony Online Entertainment, however, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Finally, this week also saw the announcement that DUST 514 would be shutting down its Oceanic servers due to players taking advantage of the low population to boost their accounts.

Firefall launched this week, a sentence I never honestly saw myself getting the chance to say. NCSoft continues to add more races and classes to Lineage II with the latest expansion, despite the game’s age and waning profit. And finally pigs have officially grown wings and made me breakfast using their own bacon, because Square Enix has opened up 14-day trials for Final Fantasy XIV.

I plan to wrap up every Week in Review with a piece from MMO Fallout history.

This Week in 2009: On The Brink: Planetside

Planetside, touted as the first true MMOFPS, takes yet another turn towards its ultimate demise, with the announcement that the game’s two servers will finally merge into one, to deal with lacking population. The original five servers have gradually closed and merged, and currently the game houses two servers; One North American and one European.

As far as MMO’s go, server closure is one of the first lines of defense in keeping a game alive. When empty servers spread players thinly, forcing them into a smaller space will give an illusion of player count, and may inspire ex-players to jump back into the renewed action, creating a snowball effect that brings more and more players to the game.

Sadly, if history has taught us anything, it is that this mantra will more than likely fail for Planetside, a game that has been on a downward slope for years now. Planetside’s status as pioneer in MMOFPS action, massive scale battles, and focus on skills above levels, will not help it in its fall from grace.

The merge will go ahead on August 25th. Once Planetside is consolidated on to one server, it is anyone’s guess as to how long it has to live afterwards.

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