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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: When Should MMORPGs Retire?

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Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 15986

OP  5/22/13 6:14:10 PM#1

Sometimes our favorite MMOs are closed down in a move beyond our control. But once in awhile, we find ourselves involved in an MMO that simply needs to close, to retire into the great beyond. In today's Tingle's Touchy Subjects, we offer a few thoughts about when that should happen. Read on and then leave some of your ideas in the comments.

As time marches on, things get old and eventually die. It is the depressing and ever present truth about life. So as we are now in the all too futuristic sounding 2013, it seems as good a time as any to ask: when do we finally put old timer MMORPGs to bed, and turn out the light for the final time?

EverQuest, Ultima Online, Anarchy Online, Asheron's Call, and I could go on and on. The games list on this site is overflowing with the new, but also the very, very old.

Read more of Adam Tingle's Tingle's Touchy Subjects: When Should MMORPGs Retire?

Associate Editor:
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom


Novice Member

Joined: 12/10/08
Posts: 3109

5/23/13 2:30:34 PM#2

I am the net result result of over a billion years of patches to a game that refuses to end.  Things do not have to ever end as long as they are willing to keep evolving.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/21/07
Posts: 1727

5/23/13 2:36:16 PM#3
Great article. I know exactly how u feel vis a vis getting that weird desire and thenext day you have 6 mmos installed.

A few foods for thought.

1) I am not sure what eq server u were using but in the newer ones (vulak fippy) there's still good population.

2) the one game that really bucks the trend is eve online... older than wow but still pop is increasing not decreasing. Why?

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Currently Playing EVE, DFUW

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Advanced Member

Joined: 10/09/09
Posts: 339

5/23/13 3:08:53 PM#4
Originally posted by itchmon
Great article. I know exactly how u feel vis a vis getting that weird desire and thenext day you have 6 mmos installed.

A few foods for thought.

1) I am not sure what eq server u were using but in the newer ones (vulak fippy) there's still good population.

2) the one game that really bucks the trend is eve online... older than wow but still pop is increasing not decreasing. Why?

Really for the experience Eve offers what is the alternative? Something I've never seen on these forums "Eve-clone" It's uniqueness with a very dedicated fan base gives it longevity. I don't think that is something easly to duplicate. 


Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/09/08
Posts: 3285

MMORPGs are no longer about the mass multi-user

5/23/13 3:39:00 PM#5
Originally posted by Muntz
Originally posted by itchmon
Great article. I know exactly how u feel vis a vis getting that weird desire and thenext day you have 6 mmos installed.

A few foods for thought.

1) I am not sure what eq server u were using but in the newer ones (vulak fippy) there's still good population.

2) the one game that really bucks the trend is eve online... older than wow but still pop is increasing not decreasing. Why?

Really for the experience Eve offers what is the alternative? Something I've never seen on these forums "Eve-clone" It's uniqueness with a very dedicated fan base gives it longevity. I don't think that is something easly to duplicate. 

Only thing close to EVE online is Lineage II when it comes to the open-world PvP with a criminal rule-set Only difference is that EVE uses (partial) full loot and in L2 you only drop when you have more than X PKs.

On the article though... Vanguard should have been shut down ages ago already. I mean, 500 players active in the game and most (all?) because it came for free with the Station Pass? That's really an all-time low in server population I think...

On the other hand CoX got shut down recently while it still had a good population. Why..? I'm not a super-hero fan, but the game was doing well that I heard off, then why shut it down (I think I know, and not gonna vent in this topic though :p)

Publishers take really weird (strategic) decisions on when a MMO is at 'end of life' and when not. The only logical one I've seen recently was the closure of Lineage (1) for the Western market. That game was good as dead and NC made a wise decision on it. Though I might add that they should have opened the Korean servers for the Western refugees ;)

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Novice Member

Joined: 5/01/05
Posts: 531

5/23/13 5:58:14 PM#6
Yeah I feel this exact same way too. I'd still play UO on a free server, but why. All my stuff will just go up in smoke once I don't log in for a week or two. Also EQ... used to reup to that game and hang out in Mistmoore just me and the wind talking about the gold old days. Vanguard is kind of the same for me. I actually built a wiki with a dungeon list for it and did some dungeon walkthroughs there with maps. It's an awesome game, but had such a bad launch it missed the window. Funny thing is newer MMOs are so hollow Vanguard is actually better than say Neverwinter. lol

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Novice Member

Joined: 5/01/05
Posts: 531

5/23/13 5:59:59 PM#7
Even games that are still getting updates like Lotro feel kind of like going back into the past, and I'm actually just now starting that game because I can't find a new MMO worth playing. But still it feels like going into a game coming to it's winter season.

nethervoid - Est. '97
13k subs YouTube Gaming channel


Advanced Member

Joined: 7/13/08
Posts: 70

5/23/13 6:13:36 PM#8
The problem is that the older a game is, the harder it become to support. It is possible that 10 years later, you will have a completely different team and that they might not know all the ins and outs of the game engine. The game engine will probably be severely outdated and maybe have alot of quirks. Doing a major rewrite is a major undertaking and risk.

Hard Core Member

Joined: 11/15/09
Posts: 5260

The only luck I had today was to have you as my opponent.

5/23/13 6:23:26 PM#9

eve is fueled not by a new bigger dragon to slay but by a constantly evolving player conflict.


human nature itself craves conflict...we have all these war toys, we need to use them somewhere...


so in a sense eve is fueled by the souls of the players... :)


if eve as a sandbox is a very fancy tools and the players are the conflict, then the game will last forever or until a great hegemony indistructible by internal struggle will exist.


there seems to be a pattern to eve...a certain 'critical mass' that comes around the point where you own over 20% of sov-space....mega-colaitions begin to polarize, each fragment thinking they can do better.


the collapse of BoB, the crumbling of RDF, the recent dissipation of HBC...super powerblocks seem invincible until they become so great that personal egos from inside shatter them. Sadly I believe CFC is next.


meanwhile somewhere in Stain for the past 6 months -A- has sat quietly, most likely planning to devour the shattered HBC and build something great. Or maybe they won't do shit. We don't know. This level of unknown is what makes eve forever dynamic. will some monstruous Stainwagon Neo-sansha empire emerge ? will pandemic legion devour south ? will CFC melt under internal drama ? will it grow twice as big and take over South ?




what will the map look like in 2015 ? will we even recognise any of the names ?


Novice Member

Joined: 5/23/13
Posts: 1

5/23/13 6:38:13 PM#10

Dark Age of Camelot, more than a decade in age still limbers up each day, and goes in for new rounds of PvPing with its engine creaking all the way

DAoC's engine was update several expansions ago.  It runs the same engine as Rift, Oblivion and Fallout 3.


  User Deleted
5/23/13 6:44:49 PM#11
The best they can do is cede the rights to the community. Let players run their own server if it is to be closed.

Novice Member

Joined: 2/22/06
Posts: 1503

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the priviledge to do so as well.

5/23/13 6:52:28 PM#12

Well, it depends on which side of the coin you ask.

Company: "When it stops making money"

Players: "When it stops being fun."

Although the players side will vary greatly as 'fun' is highly subjective and what's one man's garbage is another's treasure. 



Hard Core Member

Joined: 11/23/05
Posts: 2279

"Playing things I shouldn''t be playing since 1977."

5/23/13 6:54:49 PM#13

Funny, but I remember when we used to define MMORPGs as "persistent" games; we could log on when we wanted to.  But that's just a myth.  Because we can't claim that these games go through a "life cycle" of "birth to death" and still claim that the games are 'persistent."  Because when you don't know whether your game will last thirty years or thirty days, you get your shit done and move on as quickly as possible.  Why bother helping people out, produce interesting content or create large roleplay plots?  Playing on borrowed time doesn't lead to deep gameplay.  It leads to getting your shit done ASAP; the hell with anything else.

I've had three MMORPGs close on me before I was done with them.  I'm sick of it already.  Closing my games doesn't encourage me to play another MMO.  All it does is show me that MMOs are not for me.

I'm a notoriously slow leveler, an RPer and a newbie helper.  I don't powergrind.  I don't twink out; I play the characters realistically.  When someone needs my help, I'm more inclined to leave and help out rather than secure my own advancement.Some may say that this makes me a model MMO gamer, but I can play for hours each day and never reach "endgame" for a good few months.

So when the game gets cancelled, it's someone like me who is always left with an incomplete experience.  It's never the twinkers; the ones who drop in, grind, farm, hit the ladders by hook or crook and leave after a big "this game sucks now."  They had their fun...usually at the expense of the good players to have around.

These aren't living things.  They are works of engineering that are maintained--and closed--on the basis of a publisher's will.

I don't think these things ought to ever close, as long as the people who purchased hundreds--if not thousands--of dollars worth of subscriptions, content additions and upgrades are still enjoying the games.  They pay so much more for these games over other kinds of computer entertainment.  Shouldn't they be allowed to enjoy what they buy for as long as they want?

There are people in those games who might have spent most of their time doing things other than race to the level cap ASAP and grind to uberness during the "heyday."  They might have been doing necessary things like play in RP plots or help people out, and are only now--many years later--doing the things they didn't do before.  Is it fair that they should have their game taken away, simply because the "content locusts" burned through the whole game and left en masse?  I don't think it is.

"Its sad when people use religion to feel superior, its even worse to see people using a video game to do it."

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Novice Member

Joined: 2/28/07
Posts: 93

5/23/13 7:14:02 PM#14

Games can and should continue for as long as the developer is willing to support it and push active updates and there is a community behind it to make said updates viable.

  • Some games peak early, then slowly degrade into a sad mess with less and less dev support 'till eventually it is better to put it out of its misery. These are the kinds of games I think OP was talking about, the sad husks of former glory that no one really wants to talk about, but publisher just can't put away.
  • Other games have a long tail end, with a fanbase and developers who are willing to support it, but a publisher who for some reason or another kills the MMO prematurely (EX: City of Heroes)
  • In rare cases you have games that never truly peak, grow year after year, supporting that studio's growth with really no end in sight. This is probably only really possible in 'sandbox' games with the prime example being EVE Online, now going on its 10th year, 19th free expansion, and a subscriber base that only grows each year.


Spotlight Poster

Joined: 9/21/12
Posts: 1566

5/23/13 7:42:21 PM#15

Everquest still has a very dedicated team behind it, its not like the game is in maintenance mode, or just rehashes the same thing every expansion.

And EQ *has* upgraded its graphics.  To make it look as good as modern games would require basically remaking the game and is just not remotely feasible.  But compare EQ to AC and EQ just destroys AC graphically, heck it destroys AC2 graphically.


The answer to the title question is obvious though, when it stops turning a profit.  Because even if only 10k people are playing it, if its profitable there is no legitimate justification for pulling the rug out from under that 10k.


Advanced Member

Joined: 11/06/08
Posts: 520

5/23/13 8:05:16 PM#16

I think ambition has very little to do with it.  I think every developer out there wants to succeed.  They make decisions and how those decisions pan out is reflected in their income.  When they can no longer make new content and stay profitable, and additional investment to improve and/or add additional content does not have adequate proof of being able to make good on that investment, then it is time to stop adding content.  When they no longer are making enough to keep servers running, it is time to shut down the game.


If they can keep the servers running and break even, then they should keep the servers running.


This is a pretty long article for such a simple issue.  


Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/24/06
Posts: 478

5/23/13 10:24:00 PM#17

WoW and Neverwinter should retire. WoW is out living its usefulness and Neverwinter can't seem to find the right foot to start on. Cryptic should just stop before they make things even worse.


When we get back from where we are going, we will return to where we were. I know people there!


Made History

Joined: 7/11/11
Posts: 6496

Pink, it's like red but not quite.

5/23/13 10:34:02 PM#18
Originally posted by patlefort
The problem is that the older a game is, the harder it become to support. It is possible that 10 years later, you will have a completely different team and that they might not know all the ins and outs of the game engine.

Worse that that--it can become difficult to find programmers that have experience with the original coding language.

Not an insurmountable hurdle, since coding is coding and you can always RTFM. But an annoying one.


Given my 'druthers, I'd say "never" to the original question. Or at least "never until the producers close shop, or the game is demonstrably running in the red".

But corporate bean-counters and I don't often think alike.

Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.


Defender of Worlds

Joined: 5/20/04
Posts: 3468

I actually still like MMORPGs

5/23/13 11:00:46 PM#19
Hey! Meridian 59 is still going! Officially even, and its completely free to play. The original creators bought it back and run it on donations. I tried to get Grakulen to do a Wayback Wednesday with it, but I don't think he's interested :(.


Novice Member

Joined: 5/24/13
Posts: 1

5/24/13 12:22:32 AM#20


I have two active Dark Age of Camelot accounts that I still play everyday. My dad has five active Asheron's Call accounts that he still plays just about every day. 

The older games are much more fun imo. MMOs kinda went to crap after WoW and f2ps became trendy. 

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