Another MMO dies -- Earth and Beyond

EA’s pulling the plug on September 22nd. These games stand less of a chance of surviving when a big publisher is behind them, I think. Big publishers are less willing to accept low subscriber numbers.

I think that’s partially because big publishers sink way too much money into them, one of the things I think is wrong with the way EA pushes MMOGs. If they had learned to do relatively efficient projects without throwing gobs of money and a crapload of un-needed high-paying top level personnel that typically don’t do anything, they could probably do a lot better job in getting these to last.

BTW Mark you get my last emails?

— Alan

EA seems particularly inept at handling online gaming. Nearly every attempt has been a failure (Majestic), performed well below expectations (The Sims Online) or never even materialized (Xbox Live support). Admittedly, the reasons for failure vary and there have been successes, like Ultima Online, but their track record is pretty poor for being the world’s largest video game publisher.

I think being “the world’s largest video game publisher” is precisely the problem, as mentioned above. EA just can’t seem to avoid making every title a “AAA or bust” affair. UO worked because as the vanguard of the wave of modern MMOs it was able to snag a much larger subscriber base than subsequent projects, thus perhaps justifiying the wads of money thrown at it. But the rest of EA’s bunch of online games suffered it seems from costs far out of whack with revenues, which I think is precisely a function of EA’s inability to understand projects at the less than epic scale.

I’m not quite sure why some game companies can’t shake the addiction to big budgets. I guess there’s the hope that big investments will create the next runaway success, but in the process the fine art of matching budgets to revenues, and milking less ambitious, less risky, and less immediately lucrative properties for long-term profits is being neglected.

Then again maybe gamers are to blame as well. We tend to dismiss anything that isn’t bankrolled with hefty bags of dead presidents as “budget” or low-end fodder and give it short shrift as well.

I think the MMOG format has been pushed beyond what the market will support, especially at the “big budget” end; there’s just too many out there now, and this kind of thing will probably happen a lot more before the dust settles, IMHO.

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Didn’t EA buy Origin after UO turned out to be a success?

Surprised E&B went on this long.

In a related EA note a editorial in Maximum PC was about The Sims Online where it talks about the games dismal performance. Its currently under 100K subscribers. Wonder if it will be next up on the chopping block.

Lets be real, a space sim mmrpg will never really hit it big… i mean space sims solo player never were popular. Also, I believe WoW will not be a big hit, but it’ll be popular enough to support … maybe 350 k. They’ll be expecting 1 million subs in one year, but never reach it. Mmrpg’s to watch out for are the Korean published ones like Lineage 2 and City of Heroes… have a feeling both will easily surpass 100k subs locking them in.


WoW is going to be inanely popular. Every Blizzard game sells like wildfire.

How long that player base will remain is a different issue though.

And remember, just 'cause it’s Korean doesn’t mean it’s good. Lineage 1, or whatever MMO most Koreans are addicted to, might sound like the bee’s knees in that “3 Million Smokers Can’t Be Wrong!” way, but then you realize all the character models are identical, and suddenly you realize why Communism took over half their country.

…wow, that’s maybe the most ramble-rific post I’ve ever typed.

No, EA owned Origin by that time. That said, UO wasn’t really on EA’s radar much early on.

Why dont you think WoW will be a big hit? I’d be stunned if it doesnt pass EQ within 6 months of its release.


Well, this news fills me with a bit of nostalgic sadness. E&B wasn’t my first MMOG, but it’s the first one I went for in a big way. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but it still managed to hold my attention for nearly eight months. I stopped playing after my guild evaporated… by which time I had pushed my TT up to level 89.

The sunset date for E&B is September 22. That’s just short of the game’s second anniversary. How long did Motor City Online last? :)

WoW is going to be inanely popular.

BTW, this gets my vote for Most Humorous Typo of the Day. It was a typo, right?

EA’s pulling the plug on September 22nd.

This is exactly why I’ll never buy a online-only game. What if I was still having a ball with the game? What if I wasn’t ready to write off my $xxx investment in the product? What if I was addicted to the game? What if I used the game as inspiration to write the great American novel? Gaming as a hobby, art form, pasttime, whatever is far too temporal as it is, online-only games, especially with proprietary servers, only make the problem worse.

I can go back to re-read Crime and Punishment anytime I want, but heaven help me if I want to re-play Wing Commander Privateer. (Cue steve coming in that I’m a backwards moron for wanting to play a game older than last week.)

lol, yes it was. But it still works, it just adds the connotation that Blizzard fans are rabid and senseless. :P

Going off of what Squirrel Killer said…

Would it be possible for dead MMORPGs to release their server-side…I don’t know…stuff, so that people with the resources and the desire could sort of keep the game going by hosting their own server? No fees, of course.

Not strictly an RPG, but this is exactly what’s happened with Allegiance. So it is possible.

Possible but unlikely. This is EA we’re talking about here.

Not only is it possible, after all, it’s just software, but there’s efforts out there to reverse engineer the servers for at least Everquest.

I was really interested in E&B, and it tempted me to try it out. If EA had said in their press release announcing the demise of E&B that they were going to release the server code to let “the community” run their own servers, I would have run out today and bought a copy, I might have even signed up for the last few months on the official servers as well.

X Online seems to have potential, although I shudder at the sort of framerates that will result from everyone deploying their fleets in the same system at once.

X2 is already essentially a single player, offline MMORPG in space.