With hundreds and maybe even thousands of MMOs on the market, it’s extremely difficult to be competitive and stay profitable. With the move towards free-to-play structures, the genre has seen a revival as of late for many games that would have otherwise been shut down.
The likes of EverQuest 1 and 2, The Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons & Dragons Online, Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and so many others have all received second winds in the free-to-play market. In most cases, they’re doing better now than ever before. But what about the games that missed out on the opportunity to shift to a free-to-play model, for whatever reason? What about those games that didn’t deserve to die?
Shadowbane was very much ahead of its time back in 2003 when it launched. I’ve made plenty of lists here at MMORPG, and a ton of them somehow result in at least a few people mentioning this classic. There were so many things that Shadowbane did incredibly well, it can only be considered a pioneer in the genre. Shadowbane was one of the first 3D open-world PvP MMOs. That meant that a big portion of the game was completely open and allowed for players to freely murder one another.
Not only that, but it had a ton of dynamic content way before that was considered the cool thing to have. Unfortunately, the companies behind the game shuffled hands several times over the few years the game was active, reboots were spoken of and there is even word of sequel rumors. All things considered, it’s a shame that this game met its end so soon (it was only live for roughly 6 years) but it will be fondly remembered. Perhaps we will get a spiritual successor one of these days.
4) Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
Yet another game that was lauded for its high-quality PvP, yet another game shutdown. While many may argue that this game had its claim to fame and is better off dead, I beg to differ. The Warhammer universe is rich and deep with tons of characters and years of established world building. It was fitting that the series had its very own MMORPG.
As if by some twist of poetic fate, the game’s closure was announced on the day of its fifth anniversary. Players were notified that, in just a few short months, the world they called home would be no more. This was due in large part to an expiration of the license agreement with the IP holders, which unfortunately is the reason for a lot of events like this. The spirit of WAR lives on to this day though, as the original creators are spearheading the Return of Reckoning project in an attempt to emulate the original game. It won’t be the same though and it’s too bad WAR didn’t have a big longer.