3) Tabula Rasa
A lot of people forget that Lord British himself, Richard Gariot, was one of the driving creative forces behind this ambitious project. Tabula Rasa was, in a lot of ways, doomed from the start. Its development cycle was horrendous and it many elements of the game had to be scrapped and redone several times with a massive turnover rate at the company. In fact, it is very well likely one of the shortest-tenured MMORPGs in history, lasting just under a total of 4 months.
The crazy thing about it though, is that the game really did have potential. Critical reception was great and overall the game was actually praised for its innovation. Combat was fast and dynamic, the litany of PvP options were unseen before, and the backstory pulled players in. But alas, backroom politics prevailed and there was a lot of controversy around this game. Garriott was forced out of the company and the game wa summarily shut down shortly after due to “lower population than expected”. Luckily, Garriott had his day in court and sued NCSoft for close to $30 million. Maybe he will use some of that money to make sure Shrouds of the Avatar stays alive longer than 4 months after it launches.
2) City of Heroes
Out of all the games on this list, this one was probably the most successful overall. It had a strong launch, tons of unique features and highlights, and was around for a pretty long time (a solid 8 ½ years). City of Heroes was one of the first really big and popular superhero MMOs, which is kind of surprising given the fact that it doesn’t have a strong IP backing it.
The truly great thing about CoH though, is how emphatically the developers embraced the fact that it was a superhero MMO. The level of control you had over creating your hero (or eventually villain) was incredible. The Mission Architect system was a huge innovation at the time and the game even allowed you to progress between being a hero or being a villain by completing in-game tasks. Champions Online and DC Universe are decent options in the face of the horde of fantasy themed games, but neither of them will ever stand as tall as City of Heroes. I guess all good things really do have to come to an end at some point.
1) Star Wars: Galaxies
You probably already guessed what would be #1 before you even started reading this list. The awful thing about the story behind this game is that it really makes sense why the game was killed. When it launched, it was the first Star Wars MMO – something that came with a lot of expectations. It’s original design was one of an almost sandbox approach, with tons of open-ended elements and an extremely diverse population of players.
As time went on though and the game grew in popularity, the developers’ vision of the game changed as well. With the release of the NGE patch, the galaxy far, far away was never the same. Instead of a freeform system for player progression, it become a more structured, (and as a result) limiting experience. Players were outraged, SOE tried to make amends but never really could, and they eventually apologized for everything that transpired and ended up shutting the game down. Despite all of that though, Star Wars: Galaxies has always been regarded as one of the greatest achievements in MMO history, something to aspire to once again.
Which MMOs from your past do you think were killed before they deserved to be? It doesn’t even have to be a very good game, but everyone has games that they wish were around for a while longer. A few more months of experiences and memories could go a long way. Leave your thoughts down in the comments below!
David Jagneaux / David is a freelance writer and full-time nerd. He loves to play, write about, talk about and think about all things gaming. It's dangerous to go alone, so follow him on Twitter at @David_Jagneaux