It’s unfortunate that Another One Bites The Dust exists, but necessary. This column chronicles the fateful announcements ahead of an MMOGs’ downfall, a company closure or, in some truly sad cases, both. Grab your Big Gulp and let some hit the floor for the fallen.
NCSoft, perhaps best known in the West for being the publisher behind the Guild Wars franchise (and my favorite Sci-Fi MMOG Tabula Rasa) recently announced that the company will be shutting down Lineage in North America. The early MMORPG title continues to support itself in its homebase of South Korea, but North American gamers have moved on, perhaps to its sequel Lineage II or sister product Aion.
NCSoft is giving all players, current and previous, a chance to partake in the title’s final moments. Any player that is in good standing (i.e. not been banned) has had their account reactivated. All billing has been cancelled from last week on. If that describes you, you’d best join in, as the development team promises a few live events before Lineage heads to the digital graveyard.
Given that it’s remaining online elsewhere, I wonder if the closing moments of Lineage will have any impact on other realms. I’ll always remember Lineage as the game that introduced me to the horrors and joy, in that order, of MMOG PvP, and Eastern MMOG developers.
The North American servers for Lineage will close on June 29, 2011. That’s assuming the world doesn’t end on May 21 like those nutjobs keep saying.
In not-so-directly-related news, former NCSoft development partner Cryptic Studios is having its own issues. Atari, the company’s owner since 2008, announced in its financial report that it considers Cryptic Studios to be a “discontinued operation.” Gamasutra reports that the original developer of City of Heros/Villains (now at NCSoft subsidiary Paragon Studios), Star Trek Online, newly free-to-play Champions Online and the upcoming Neverwinter RPG will be sold off.
Atari and Cryptic Studios have separately stated that the developer’s products will remain unaffected, at least for the immediate future.
Atari is dropping the recently-acquired studio to focus on its new business strategy “of fewer but more profitable releases and further expansion into casual online and mobile games.” Losing some $25 million in the past two years probably didn’t bode well for Cryptic. The studio has not divulged if Champion Online’s move to the F2P genre was as successful as past endeavors by other companies.
All the best to those affected by the decisions.