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Samhain's Zergwatch

Samhain's Zergwatch is a blog that started in 2006 on a different gaming community server and has since evolved into, a place to gather my twisted thoughts on the whole mess. Explore the oozing underbelly of gaming with me.

Author: zergwatch

The Top 10 MMORPG failures of all time

Posted by zergwatch Monday December 1 2008 at 10:14PM
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These days, it seems more MMORPG's are failing than those that are succeeding.  In industry circles, an MMORPG success is judged on profit margins and revenue.  In the gaming circle, success is judged by game quality and longevity.  Below is my list of the top 10 MMORPG failures of all time.

10 RF Online
RF Online was the first Science Fiction MMORPG to come along after the downfall of Star Wars Galaxies. It was released in North America only a few months after Sony released the New Gaming Experience which drove hordes of players away from Star Wars Galaxies. While it was never more than a feint blip on the MMORPG radar screen, it was wildly hyped by MMORPG media outlets around the internet. The game offered a unique three way RVR experience set in a fantasy meets sci-fi world. The game went free on October 17th, 2007, only to close for good one year later.  RF Online was published in North America by Codemasters Online.

9 Archlord
in October 2006, Codemasters Online took on another Korean MMORPG import, this time the Korean Orc, Human and Elf fantasy game, Archlord. The lure for the fanatical MMOPRG player to Archlord was the ability for players to compete against each other to become the Archlord, the supreme ruler of the realm or server. Unfortunately, everything about Archlord played out like a Korean grind MMORPG and the concept never quite took hold in the United States. The game, like others on the downfall became free to play in October of 2007. Archlord is still running in North America as a free to play MMORPG.

8 Dark & Light
Dark and Light was a promising alternative to the World of Warcraft breed of games, but its 2006 release went horribly wrong. The game had some of the most horrendous bugs ever seen in an MMORPG which included frequent roll backs, guilds being disbanded, crashes, poor performance and drastic client instability issues. Farlan Entertainment, the publisher eventually acknowledged that the game was released prematurely due to investor concerns and was never able to recover. Like most failed MMORPG's, the game eventually became a free to play game. The promises offered by Dark and Light never materialized and the game quickly became a one month wonder.

7 Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising
In 2005, Perpetual Entertainment announced an inspiring new MMORPG set in an Ancient Roman world inhabited by gladiators and mythical beings straight out of Roman Mythology. The game concept was extremely well received by MMORPG players and the media. Problems eventually besieged Perpetual Entertainment who was also trying to launch Star Trek Online at the same time. Gods and Heroes was put on an indefinite hold, but thousands of pre-order copies of the game made it to store shelves Best Buty and Circuit City retail outlets days and weeks after the cancellation announcement was made. Perpetual Entertainment eventually folded. Star Trek Online is currently in development by Cryptic Studios, but hope for Gods and Heroes ever materializing has all but vanished.

6 Age of Conan
Norwegian developer Funcom pit themselves in a head to head battle against EA-Mythic as the battle of Age of Conan versus Warhammer Online reached a feverish rivalry over which game was going to be released first and which game would bet better than the other. In early 2008, Funcom decided to take the upper hand and release their game after EA Mythic pushed Warhammer Online back to the fall of 2008. The early release proved to be an extremely costly mistake for Funcom. The game was hyped in the media over its adult mature themed content which included bare breasted female avatars and sultry overtones. As players leveled through the game, glaring problems became apparent. While the game was extremely polished for the first 30 or so levels, there was a seemingly obvious bait and switch feeling once players got past level 40. Class imbalances, bugs and missing features, promised at launch, but never made it to the game began to spell out the impending doom for the title. Funcom recently announced they will be merging servers and laying off huge portions of their US based staff to compensate for diminishing revenue and subscriptions.

5 Hellgate: London
Hellgate London was one of those games that wasn't quite an MMORPG, but drew huge attention from the MMORPG audience, hoping to play a top quality horror based MMORPG as a diversion to the vast sea of cut and paste fantasy MMO alternatives. The game had several launch problems and received lukewarm reception from the media and players. Hellgate: London never attained the status it had anticipated and in November 2008, it was announced that the game would be shutting down in February of 2009.

4 Auto Assault
In 1997, Interstate 76 was released and it was a mildly successful combat game followed later by Interstate '82, by Activision. The concept was eventually turned into an MMORPG by NC Soft in 2006, a company with several MMORPG failures under its belt, as Auto Assault. The concept of Auto Assault was three factions engaged in vehicular warfare with each other. Unfortunately, the game died a horrible death, shortly after its first birthday. The game never had enough subscribers to turn a profit for NC Soft and was shut down in the summer of 2007.

3 Star Wars Galaxies
While the demise of Star Wars Galaxies entitles it to the number one position on this list, you cannot argue that for a brief period is was a glimmer of hope in the MMORPG industry. Star Wars Galaxies was different from all other MMORPG's in so many ways, you can't explain, yet was fatally flawed with exploits, bugs and constant changes by developer, Sony Online Entertainment. On three occasions, SOE tried to reinvent the game by introducing drastic changes to the game's combat systems, which culminated in the New Game Experience in November of 2005, two and a half years after its initial launch which decimated the population of the game by introducing a rather horrible 3rd person shooter element to the combat system. SOE removed many of the classes in the game and drastically dumbed down the game, in a move which SOE President John Smedley praised, claiming it was a necessary move to revive the game and increase subscriber base. In the years following the NGE, SOE has tried without success to make the game like it was before, but the changes proved too drastic and the population has never recovered. Eventually John Smedley admitted the NGE was a mistake.

2 Tabula Rasa
While Tabula Rasa was never a headline grabbing game, like RF Online, it was seen as a viable alternative to the Sci-Fi starved gamers, looking to replace their lost love, Star Wars Galaxies. The game was the brainchild of Richard Garriot, creator of Ultima Online. The game was well received by players and had a decent preorder volume. It also received above average ratings from the major gaming media outlets. While the game itself was never terrible, it also never really got off the ground. NC Soft was plagued by financial troubles which culminated in the departure of Richard Garriott after his romp on the international space station. Upon his return to earth, he resigned from the company and a few days later, it was announced that Tabula Rasa would be shutting down in February of 2009. The biggest failure of Tabula Rasa was the apparent lack of guidance and lack of interest in the game by its creator.

1 Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
If the MMO industry was a city, then Vanguard: Saga of Heroes was the drug and crime infested trailer park on the outskirts of town. Creator and self proclaimed visionary Brad McQuaid, of Everquest fame, attempted to relive the good old days of Everquest by developing an MMORPG which tried very hard to emulate the original Everquest. The game offered stunningly beautiful graphics and a very intuitive combat interface. The game's concept was originally intended to cater to the hardcore MMORPG player who wanted to walk the world for days, take years to level up and totally immerse themselves in a fantasy role playing setting similar to Everquest. The game was originally picked up by Microsoft, but dropped shortly after, leaving Brad McQuaid and Sigil Games on the hook for the cost of developing the game and bringing it to market. The company severely cut corners to release the game in a hail mary attempt to recoup their losses. The game was launched and was laden with bugs, missing content, persistent crash to desktop errors and countless other bugs and glitches, which received little attention from Sigil. Sigil eventually sold the game to Sony Online Entertainment. After the game was sold and a majority of Sigil employees were laid off, vicious rumors and finger pointing filled the internet, pointing the game's failure squarely on the shoulder's of Brad McQuaid and senior management. Rumors persisted that Brad was an AFK executive with his head in the clouds. Brad eventually vanished from sight and the game was resurrected by SOE, but by this time, the player base had vanished and all interest had been lost in the title.


Tnice writes:

Vanguard.  Ah just a shame.

Mon Dec 01 2008 11:50PM Report
Valentina writes:

I don't think Age of Conan is a failure, their market release shows they still have around 300,000 active subscribers. Now weather they all play on a regular basis I don't know.  I agree with the rest!

Tue Dec 02 2008 12:01AM Report
ElendilasX writes:

Valentina - I really doubt that they have so much subs. Even if it has which i cant imagine, game is still failure... Yeap, it is getting a bit better with updates and with time it has potential to become really great one but not now it is shit..

Tue Dec 02 2008 12:24AM Report
Netzoko writes:

There's a difference between failure and going a bad direction.

SWG was arguable the best MMO ever, they just took it in a bad direction a few years after release.

This is very different from 'failure.'

Tue Dec 02 2008 12:28AM Report
Malogrin writes:

Vanguard started really bad, but right now it offer some serious gaming experience.

Tue Dec 02 2008 12:38AM Report
Kordesh writes:

 I liked RFOnline, if only the grind hadn't be so bad ;;. Hell, the level grind itself wasn't so bad as the skill grinding was as you could stonewall your character if you didn't keep up with it. The chip wars back in its good days were amazing and I doubt we'll see anything like it again sadly. 

PS: you forgot to add Shadowbane to your list. 

Tue Dec 02 2008 12:43AM Report
Death1942 writes:

Vanguard has improved massivly.  it should not be no1.  also Conan should be towards 8 or 9 on the list as, it is one of the lesser dissapointments (there are many more, that one was just more recent)

Tue Dec 02 2008 1:43AM Report
ElendilasX writes:

Death1942 - I dont think you should look at this list numbering because everyone will have their own opinion about it. If it means number 1 is biggest failure i tottaly disagree. But overall list is very good and really has its point.

Tue Dec 02 2008 2:19AM Report
Bulveigh writes:

wha exactly swg is such a big failure? Oo


it runs verry verry well and good populated for many years.. even with nge it had long time a buch bigger playerbase than 99% of all other mmorpg's..

just cause it slowly dies after many years of good success its a fail?

So Ultima Online, Everquest I, Meridian59 ... everything baaadly fails.. nearly noone still play it..

Tue Dec 02 2008 3:05AM Report
Aeodynn writes:

Remember that this one person's opinion overall.  I don't agree with all these 'failures' like an above person said some of these weren't failures off the bad, but the owners made bad decisions.

Tue Dec 02 2008 7:24AM Report
zergwatch writes:

I qualified failure not as "the game is over and done" but games like SWG, AoC and Vanguard go on  my failure list because they failed at a crucial time and lost 10's of thousands of people, perhaps 100's of thousands they will never get back because of poor management, mishandling, etc.    Sure these games are running and whether they are better or worse than before is up for debate, however, the fact that they lost large numbers of subscribers over the publisher's poor decisions is not really debatable, but fact.

Tue Dec 02 2008 8:54AM Report
ThalosVipav writes:

"it runs verry verry well...Even with nge it had long time bigger playerbase than 99% of other mmo's"

This made me LOL. SWG has never run really really well. Ever! Its has always had glaring bugs. And after the NGE the population was among the lower 1/3 of all mmo. not higher then.

Loved SWG but the NGE killed it.

Tue Dec 02 2008 8:56AM Report
MagikarpsGhost writes:

lol bad list there. Some of the games you have on there are bad but some are just going in a bad direction. RF was fun till the bots took over. Van is still a blast and SWG is stil fun if you find the right server

Tue Dec 02 2008 9:10AM Report
Eveeldour writes:

Actually Vanguard is doing well now, quite odd really :)

Tue Dec 02 2008 9:17AM Report
gom276 writes:

Unless a game is shut down in its first few years of life it is not a failure as long as the company can make a profit off the game it is a success.  This is more of a from a player stand point not an industry one.

Some fit that description others just seem to be a jaded user list.  AoC lost a lot of subs right off the bat but people are slowly returning as the game gets better with each patch.  Vanguard keeps getting better as well... not sure why but it does.   Your list was good until I got to the AoC one.  Mostly cause even some of the most successful MMO's out there had rocky starts.  Even WoW...  people tend to have short memories.

Tue Dec 02 2008 11:10AM Report
SXRchosen1 writes:

I hate posts like this, keep it to your self...FFS!

its YOUR list keep it to YOUR self.

Tue Dec 02 2008 11:14AM Report
streea writes:

Games like AoC and Vanguard aren't failures... they're coming around and will likely come back given enough time.

You know which MMO was failing originally?

EVE. So don't count out some games just because they're not as incredible as they were hyped to be originally.

Tue Dec 02 2008 11:24AM Report
Pepsipwnzgod writes:

Great list, i like knowing this kind of stuff, honestly.

Tue Dec 02 2008 11:25AM Report
astrob0y writes:

"I hate posts like this, keep it to your self...FFS!

its YOUR list keep it to YOUR self."


The person who wrote this seem to have missunderstood the forum concept :) 

A great post by Zergwatch even thou I dont agree with him/her in every statement.


Tue Dec 02 2008 11:37AM Report
Devros writes:

RE: " SXRchosen1- Tue Dec 02 2008 12:14PM
I hate posts like this, keep it to your self...FFS!
its YOUR list keep it to YOUR self. "

Oh the irony of the above post...

As was mentioned you forgot Shadowbane! I also disagree with your assumption that Garriot was responsible for the failure of TR. Good list although incomplete.



Tue Dec 02 2008 12:08PM Report
ohsofresh42 writes:

I'm shocked Earth and beyond, Shadowbane, and Anarchy Online are not on this list. They are all pretty deserving as all 3 were miserable failures at one point or another but overall I can pretty much agree with the above list since I played 9 out of the 10 games.

Tue Dec 02 2008 12:31PM Report
Paragus1 writes:

Asheron's Call 2 should be on this list, and near the top.

Tue Dec 02 2008 1:48PM Report
Koddo writes:

Of course the list is "incomplete" it's a top 10 list, only 10 get listed.

Personally, i believe dark n light should be high up on the list, if not number 1. That game was a hurricane in an earthquake.

Tue Dec 02 2008 2:55PM Report
grimfall writes:

Have to agree that the list is a little bit uneven.  If longevity is a sign of a good game, then SWG, for example, should be exempt from the list, and games that weren't released don't really qualify.

AC2 deserves a spot in the top 10, surely.

Tue Dec 02 2008 8:27PM Report
grimfall writes:

I also was surprised to think that RF Online was more of a headling grabber than TR.  I would have thought the exact opposite was true.

Your writing, by the way, Zergwatch, is getting better. 

Tue Dec 02 2008 8:29PM Report
Tolroc writes:

Overall a pretty good list. I don't agree with everything you have here, but pretty good. I was surprised that Matrix Online wasn't on the list.


Wed Dec 03 2008 1:31PM Report
ssjdagas writes:

I hope AoC won't go under, I just bought the game (It was cheap and I wanted to try it). But I seem to have bad luck, I bought TR a couple of months ago and that game is shutting down.

Mon Dec 08 2008 10:30AM Report
levsix writes:

I think that Age of Conan should be higher and Vanguard should be lower. Vanguard has actually picked up in subs and the game is in a nice state now. However, it is true it fell very short of its mark.

Tabula Rasa, a game which I really enjoyed once it got hammered out and polished for a bit is another sad example. I agree with what you said about it (100 percent ) and I really like(d) that game. I think they only had about 18,000 subs at the time of cancelation. It's too bad. 

Games that fail commercially are not always failures in respect to their fun value. Sometimes the variables and x-factors just do a game in. In the case of Hellgate London, a certain imbecile named Bill Roper was the lard ass that broke the camel's back..but the game itself was still also quite average. Ok, have a winner!

Thu Dec 18 2008 2:42PM Report
Zarobien writes:

Move Gods and Heroes to position 2.


Tue Apr 21 2009 2:22AM Report
quickman007 writes:

i dont think RF online was a big fail. i know alot of people that really like it. i mean sure it probly wasnt worth $15 a month, but its a great F2P game

P.S. it re-opened

Wed Jan 13 2010 11:06AM Report
Eldarth writes:

Tabula Rasa was completely torpedoed by NCSoft.

Richard Garriott sued NCsoft for $24 million for damages relative to his termination from the parent company NCsoft. Garriott's allegation states that NC Soft terminated his employment, then fraudulently reported his termination as willful resignation in order to preserve the right to terminate Garriot's stock options unless he exercised them himself within 90 days of termination, forcing Garriott into a decision to purchase stock with which a loss was incurred worth dozens of millions in profit for Garriott. Additionally, the news of the termination was issued while Garriott was confined to quarantine from the space flight, which was originally intended to be a publicity move to further promote the game and increase revenue. In July 2010, an Austin District Court awarded Garriott US$28 million in his lawsuit against NCsoft, finding that the company did not appropriately handle his departure in 2008. NCsoft stated that it intended to appeal the decision. In October 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the judgment.

Sun Aug 23 2015 2:48PM Report writes:
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