MMOs are supposed to last forever, or as long as possible. EverQuest is nearing 20 years old, and the lesser known Meridian 59 is over two decades old. But due to circumstance, poor decisions, or otherwise, some of the best and most loved games in our genre don’t last nearly as long as they should. In today’s list we’re celebrating the very best of the games that have been cancelled, shut down, or outright murdered by poor decisions.
Note that this list only includes games that fully launched. We’ll cover games that never made it out of the gate another time.
10 - Auto Assault
Auto Assault was a 3D MMO from NetDevil and NCSoft. Originally released in 2006, most of Auto Assault's gameplay took place in a vehicle, which served as one's avatar for most of the game, except for time spent in towns. Taking its inspiration from sources such as the Mad Max films and Greek mythology, the game's post-apocalyptic setting was the backdrop for a story that took place after an indirect attack by aliens that left Earth uninhabitable and forced humanity underground. Trapped by circumstances, this led to research in order to combat the problem. Players could choose to belong to one of three races - Humans, Mutants, or Biomeks. Each race viewed the others negatively in some form, while each race also got certain advantages and classes unique to them.
The Matrix Online was an MMORPG originally developed by Monolith Productions and published by Sega and WB Games, set in the fictional universe of The Matrix films and featuring characters from the series. Matrix-style combat, including bullet time and Kung Fu tricks were integral to the game's combat. Players could side with one of the major factions (Zionist Humans, Exiles, or Machines) and join in the ongoing war against the other two.
8 - Shadowbane
Shadowbane, a dark fantasy MMORPG from Wolfpack Studios, debuted in 2003. Originally developed by Wolfpack Studios, the game was most notable for its open PvP rules and dynamic game world. Players could fight each other openly in almost any location, making Shadowbane one of the first PvP-centric MMOs. Being able to affect the game's world was another salient feature, and player cities, terrain, mercenaries, and other creations were player contributions. Both of these features added to the depth of the game's community, and to its siege battle feature, which allowed players to sack each others' cities and lands.
7 - Earth and Beyond
Earth & Beyond was a sci-fi MMORPG that mixed elements of traditional RPGs and RTS with a storyline involving shifts in galactic loyalties. Players were set into a Milky Way galaxy where an uneasy peace barely held humankind’s three factions from another all out war. Players could command their own starships and engage in strategic combat and diplomacy with others, and their collective actions affected the game world. E&B holds the distinction of being the great Westwood Studios’ last game, and was canceled by EA in September 2004.