The current atmosphere in the MMO industry is one of fierce competitiveness. Developers have slowly opened up to experiments with pricing models, new settings and gameplay mechanics just to make their game stand out from the slew of new entries on the market, as well as established franchises in the genre. In the midst of all the marketing blitz and new announcements, it is easy to forget titles that never made it to release or were abandoned shortly after. But, for the people who followed them with enthusiasm, the cancellation of these games felt like a real fiasco.
Today, we take a look at some of the MMOs that were canned at various stages of development and were never given the opportunity to prove themselves.
At first, there were only rumors circulating that Ensemble studios was making an MMO based on the Halo universe. Then, several art assets surfaced on the net, and the eager rumor machine shifted gears. The project codenamed ‘Titan’ had a projected $90 million budget and the support of an experienced development team. As one former Ensemble employee noted, the game was geared to be a real competitor to World of Warcraft. So what caused Microsoft to shut down a game that was based on one of the most popular IPs in gaming? Apparently, they looked at the success of Nintendo Wii and the money brought in by the casual market, and decided that appealing to this audience was a key priority for the company’s gaming direction. How was that related to Halo Online? Beats me.
There are so many possibilities and visions of what a Halo MMO could have been, but all is not lost. A while ago, Microsoft stated that they have several teams working on Halo related projects at any given time, so there is still a chance the title will be resurrected in one form or another. One can only hope.
Ultima Online 2
The first Ultima Online reaped success beyond anything that the creators could have imagined. In fact, it was so profitable that the publisher EA decided there should be a sequel MMO released not long after the first one launched. This time, there would be full 3d support, and the title was meant to compete with the latest MMOs released at the time. Later on, EA went backward on their decision, citing that the sequel would create unnecessary competition for subscribers with the first title and dropped further support. Soon after the announcement, 200 employees were laid off, and a good portion of them were working on the MMO.
The original game is thought of as a title that almost single-handedly popularized the MMORPG genre and showed publishers that MMO games were not only viable, but also made a lot of money. It would be interesting to see how the industry would have shaped up if the sequel was ever allowed to hit the market. The original creator and design visionary, Richard Garriot, has recently mentioned an interest in moving to social games and media, so the chances of the franchise being truly reborn are slim.
This is the end of the first part of the series. Let us now reminisce and look forward to part 2 in the near future.