Editorial - What Happened to Auran?
With today's announcement that Auran Developments, the company behind the PvP MMORPG Fury, would be closing their doors, the announcement didn't really take many by surprise. Managing Editor Jon Wood offers some thoughts on why Fury wasn't the kind of success that the company had hoped.
Earlier today, we learned that Auran Developments, the company behind the MMORPG Fury, announced that they would be closing their doors. Fury itself will continue on as a free-to-play, free-to-download title, but the developers behind the game have all been laid off, and the company has “called in a Voluntary Administrator” (What Auran describes as similar to Chapter 11 in the United States) leaving only what the official announcement to the public called “a small but committed team to continue developing FURY on an ongoing basis”.
The recently announced Age of the Chosen update, we are told, will still go ahead as scheduled on Friday the 14th, making some additions and fixes to the game. The official announcement expressed optimism, saying that, “I believe that once people hear about F:AotC and the new Free to Play business model, we’ll start building up the player numbers and revenues that will make the game successful.” With the Fury Launch date a mere two months in the past, a number of questions are raised around how this could have happened. What did Auran Developments do that led to this end? Personally, I think that there are a number of different answers to that question. First and foremost on my list though is the fact that Fury was built on a premise that, in my opinion, was shaky to begin with. In order for Fury to be successful, there would have to be a fairly large number of players out there who feel that MMORPG-style PvP provides enough entertainment to justify the expense of creating an entire game. Unfortunately for Auran, this does not seem to have been the case. I’m not saying that PvP isn’t a popular aspect of many MMOs, and it’s hard to deny that PvP is a subject that is loudly debated on MMO forums like the ones here at MMORPG.com. In fact, hardly a week goes by without someone pining away and asking when or if their favorite MMO will release free-for-all PvP servers. The problem is that while these hardcore players are numerous, there just aren’t enough of them to support an all-PvP game. I also believe that Fury’s setting played a role in the fate of Auran. Before Fury, there were in fact plenty of games that offered PvP-only action. The Battlefield series stands out for me as a successful franchise that offers nothing but human on human carnage. There are, of course, a number of differences between Fury and a game like Battlefield, but the one that I want to focus on here is the setting. Battlefield and most if not all of the PvP-only games out there tend to be set in an era that represents modern or futuristic combat, leaving people itching to test their mettle in fantasy-based PvP-only combat. The problem is that this isn’t what Fury provided. While MMORPG players (and most gamers, really) are familiar with the tried and true realm of high fantasy, they are not as familiar with games that are based on Eastern cultures, like Fury is. I’m not saying that there isn’t a market for this genre of game, because there is. The problem is that Fury set out to do something that was un-proven in making a PvP-only MMORPG-style game. By setting the game in the unfamiliar territory of Eastern swords and sorcery rather than a more familiar western counterpart, the developers inadvertently made the game less accessible. Getting into the meat of the game though, there were some issues at launch that have also contributed to Auran’s situation. Take, for example, the fact that the upcoming Age of the Chosen update contained a revamp of the game’s tutorial system. As it was, new players were having a hard time getting a grip on the fast-paced action of the game. The 14th will see a more streamlined and better organized tutorial, and a place where players can go to practice their moves on bots and get a feel for what their character can do without having someone else in their faces, killing them. The fact that the game was operating without this until now was a serious problem. In my own experience, I quit playing a number of times out of frustration in not knowing exactly what I was doing. MMORPG PvP is based on a familiarity with your character’s abilities and knowing which ones to use in a given situation for best effect. If players don’t understand the benefits and weaknesses of their powers, chances are that they’re not going to keep going into the game to get your butt handed to you while they learn. Instead, they’re going to turn the game off and uninstall. Obviously, there area number of reasons that this announcement has come today and a number of factors that led up to it, but to give the Fury developers credit, they aren’t giving up on the game. The game will continue to run free-to-play, free-to-download, and if the optimism found in the official announcement comes to pass, we may not have seen the last of this PvP MMO.