Have we ever seen a studio announce the shutdown of four MMOs all at once? To my recollection, no, although sometimes these foreign studios do wipe out a bunch of tiny ones in one go.
But man… this is a huge event that SOE decided to cushion itself by (a) waiting until end of business on Friday to announce and (b) mix in some good (if not new) news with the All Access changes.
So we’re going to be saying goodbye to Vanguard, Clone Wars Adventures, Wizardry Online, and Free Realms come this March and July. CWA and Wizardry don’t surprise me, especially the latter, but the other two do. SOE poured in a lot of money and effort into a free-to-play Vanguard and to my knowledge Free Realms was doing just fine. I guess the beancounters either saw that these properties were losing money, not likely to gain much more money, or would be better off not dragging the studio down as it looked to soar with DCUO, PlanetSide 2, and the EverQuest titles.
So Dragon’s Prophet made the cut? Huh. I mean… really? Huh.
As many people have noted, this kind of puts an end to seeing SOE as the studio that champions and sustains MMOs that would have faltered elsewhere. Maybe it’s just done with that, having cast off EQOA, EQMac, Star Wars Galaxies, and (most likely) PlanetSide, not to mention sending Pirates of the Burning Sea away. It also lessens the value of the new All Access pass because fewer games.
It’s not the end of the world, of course. Of some worlds, but not the world. For most players, it won’t be a blip, as these aren’t the most populated and played games out there. Maybe pruning the SOE tree of dead weight is needed to create a stronger company in the end. But it’s still a little bit of a shock to see something like this hit all at once.
Guess it’s time to go update the Timeline page once again!