Whatever Happened to Mythica?

Way back in 2003, a time of lore and buggy-dances, a small MMORPG was beginning to surface in a world that was positively teaming with new IPs and restored IPs being brought into the same scene. It was a simpler time back then, the only real competition in the scene was Everquest, Asheron’s Call, and, to a lesser extent, Ultima Online (which had begun to show it’s age). This was when Microsoft decided that it wanted a slice of the MMO pie.

Mythica was announced at GenCon back in 2003 as an MMORPG that was based on Norse mythology. Even the combat was centered around being a “demi-god” where the player would have been placed into the role of a fallen hero against Ragnarok, and preventing him from ending the world. If nothing else about the game, the story was definitely very interesting. Unfortunately, the game was cancelled in 2004 and was never brought back to life.

Mythica was not riddled with performance issues, and was not clouded by disastrous PR or lawsuits (although there was one). There was really nothing that was seriously preventing the game from being released, and everything looked according to plan until Microsoft cancelled it. So why was it cancelled? Well according to Chris Lye (former global product manager at Microsoft, GFW #15) the entire Microsoft MMO protfolio hinged on one man: Ed Fries. You see, Ed Fries was the Vice President of Microsoft Gaming Studios, who also happened to be an avid MMO gamer. He loved MMORPGs and understood that there was a real fortune in the genre in the future (this was pre-WoW by the way). After he left (no reason given) the MMO-scene at MGS had little support and it eventually just dwindled. Eventually Mythica got the ax because somebody somewhere in the head offices felt that a new MMORPG was worth more time and money than Mythica. You know this game currently as SOE’s stepchild: Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.

Fascinating game history eh?

3 Comments

  1. I was one of the programmers on Mythica, and I still miss it – sometimes poignantly. With apologies to my cyberpunk granddaddy, W. Gibson:

    … But the dreams came on in the Seattle night like livewire voodoo, and he’d cry for it, cry in his sleep, and wake alone in the dark, curled in his capsule in some coffin hotel, his hands clawed into the bed-slab, temperfoam bunched between his fingers, trying to finish the quest system for a game that was no longer there…

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