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The Four Shortest Lived MMOs, Page Two

MMORPG.com Managing Editor Jon Wood takes another trip down memory lane this week, counting down four shortest lived MMORPGs.

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#2 Fury

Launched: October 16th, 2007
Canceled: August 5th, 2008

What do you get when you take an MMORPG and strip it down to its barest, most savage man vs. man elements? You get Fury, a game from the Australian developers Auran. The game itself, which prompted players to “Unleash the Fury,” took the concept of a PvP centric MMORPG to the extreme. It removed or minimized those pesky RPG conventions like story, setting, quests, socialization, a rich game world and amped up the only part that the developers thought players cared about: combat, advancement, competition and loot.

Auran hoped to get the word out that Fury was a competitive MMO, almost a sport. The developers even held contests in the game’s beta phase and just after launch that let players compete for real-world prizes. It’s a tactic that hasn’t worked with MMOs in the past (see: Risk Your Life Million Dollar Tournament) and it didn’t work here. After the game’s launch, players complained about the steep learning curve and that veteran players were just too much better for newbies to get involved. As with any game, the developers worked to fix the fan complaints, but there were just too many. After a mere 294 days of operation, Fury’s developers threw in the towel and the game took up the mantle of second fastest MMO Cancellation in history.

What Happened

It isn’t fair to hold up Fury as an example of why PvP-centric MMOs are doomed, as some critics have done. There was a lot more to it than that.

For one, while its graphics had the potential to be beautiful, that required a computer so ridiculously detached from what the average person owns as to be laughable. At best, day-to-day performance could be described as sluggish. At worst, unplayable would be more apt. This was made worse by the game’s fast pace and competitive nature. It sucks to lose, but it sucks even worse when the death can be blamed on a client hiccup.

The setting didn’t help either, at least with the Western audience. Clearly, they had an Eastern market/theme in mind when they developed Fury, but fact is, they launched the game in English and it would have been good if the setting matched that audience.

Even basic things didn’t go right. There’s no reason people should not be able to figure out how to fight in a fighting game.

They also failed to label it correctly. It was marketed as an ultra-violent, ultra-competitive MMO. In reality, it was probably truly none of those things.

Final Thought:

When Auran unleashed the Fury in 2007, it ran out into the street and got nailed by a semi.

#1 SEED

Launched: May 2nd, 2006
Canceled: September 28th, 2006

The prize for the shortest reign in MMO history goes to a little game called SEED. Developed by Runestone Game Development, the survived for a mere 149 days, just over half as many as Fury.

SEED was an ambitious concept. This comic-book styled MMO the exact opposite of Fury. It had absolutely no combat at all. SEED was a purely social MMO.

The story went that humans had colonized the stars, and seed ships with a cargo of human DNA and other necessary ingredients for life were sent out to find a new world, terraform them and then create new human colonies grown from the samples. These humans, while infused with much of Earth's knowledge, knew nothing of the violence and war that had crippled their creators.

Unfortunately, the freshly grown humans awoke and found that their new world hadn't been terraformed at all. So they - the players - had to work together to make things right and finish the job their ships had failed to do. It was a pretty clever setup for a game that focused on social interaction and teamwork.

What Happened?

Runestone closed the doors on the game very suddenly. Simply, they ran out of money. They never had a publisher and the expense was too much for one little Danish company to bear. It turns out that the MMO community was not ready for a game that looked and played like a standard MMO, but didn’t include any form of combat. Like it or not, combat is the core of almost every game out there. It’s tough to find an investor who will put their money behind something so experimental.

Final Thought:

It seems that Runestone just didn't have a green thumb.

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Sometimes less than serious, in this space, we look back at the genre's history and far into the future to bring you a new list each week. Our countdowns are written by assorted members of the MMORPG.com Staff.
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