I think that City of Heroes’ (and to a lesser extent, Glitch and perhaps Lucent Hearts) shutdown has caused some people to pause and wonder which MMO will be next on the chopping block. Not to get maudlin or delight in “failure,” but let’s be honest: We all do think about it from time to time. Whether a game’s shut down because of a lack of players and funding or because there’s a legal issue or a studio closing, it can and will happen.
So what MMOs do I think are most in danger of being sunsetted? Five titles come to mind:
Honestly, there’s just no reason for SOE to keep this game running. It’s the only title in the studio’s library that hasn’t been converted to free-to-play, it has a F2P sequel that just launched, and it’s pretty long in the tooth. Maybe SOE will keep the lights on for the sake of the dedicated few that stick around (and keep coughing up a subscription fee), but I don’t see that happening.
2. Warhammer Online
It pains me to say it, but I really don’t think WAR is long for this world. Mythic is helming a leaking ship with no apparent hope for its future. BioWare’s siphoned off several of its devs, DAoC is really old at this point and not going F2P, UO is even older, there aren’t any new titles in the works that we know about, and WAR feels like a game that they’d rather you not notice.
The fact that Mythic has outright said that it’s just not financially realistic to convert the game to F2P speaks volumes about its future. Then you add on the fact that the studio also said that its MOBA version of the game will probably never leave beta status because of a terribly small playerbase, and I just don’t see WAR pulling out of this tailspin. It was a great if flawed game in many ways, but there’s no hope left.
3. Guild Wars
NCsoft isn’t known for its bleeding heart, and if it sees that most of the Guild Wars fanbase has made the jump to GW2, their accountants are not going to look at the continued cost of operating GW1 fondly. Hey, maybe those are very minimal costs and why not. But GW1 can’t have much of a future making money for the company, and that leaves me with a bad feeling about it.
4. Final Fantasy XI
This one might be a bit of a stretch, but hear me out. Not only is FF11 nearing senior citizen status in MMO years, but the studio is really desperate to make FF14 work. Could it see FF11′s closing as a way to “encourage” the remaining players to make the switch?
Really, I have no idea what Square-Enix is thinking most of the time, and considering how volatile FF14′s history has been so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if the studio just tried to back out of the online space altogether.
5. Anarchy Online
Gah, it hurts me to even suggest this — especially considering I’ve just put it back on my computer. But with Funcom’s recent staff layoffs and the rumors that it might be shopping around for a buyer, I have to wonder just how stable AO’s future is. I mean, it’s not just old but there’s little left to draw new/returning players back in until or unless the team can pull off that graphics update. And raise your hand if you think that’s honestly going to happen?
I don’t think all of these games are destined to be shut down in the next couple of months, I just think that these are the five titles I’m most concerned about right now. Put them on the “endangered” list, so to speak. What do you think?