Thursday, February 25, 2021

Nothing Lasts Forever

Yesterday Wilhelm at TAGN posted an excellent examination and analysis of the difficulty of launching successful, new mmorpgs in the face of the sheer longevity and resilience of the games already running. As he observed 

"Fans of the genre tend to bemoan its stagnation and blame WoW or free to play or whatever for the fact that things can seem stale.  But the real problem is that old games don’t go away".

And I chipped in with this comment:

"People will insist on banging on about the mmorpgs that close down without ever recognizing the vastly larger pool of games that just keep on going."

I stand by that statement. It's just a shame I chose to make it on the day Gamigo decided to clean house.

In what seems like a particularly insensitive cascade of press releases, the company widely known for acquiring and aggregating mmorpgs announced the closure of four of them. Well, four so far. I imagine players of the remaining dozen or so left in the stable must be chewing their nails.

I can't pretend that the closures affect me deeply, either emotionally or practically. Two of the games, Defiance and Defiance 2050, I've never played. I've thought about playing them, a few times, but never with enough enthusiasm to do anything about it.


The latest to be axed, Eden Eternal, I have played. I've mentioned it here a few times. It even has a tag although I've never done a whole post about it.

I think of it as "the mouse game" because when I played my character looked like a giant cartoon mouse. I can't really remember much about the gameplay. I have a feeling it might have been the first mmorpg I ever played that used the "autorun to quest target" option, something that seemed almost magical at the time and which I still appreciate in every game that offers it.

Eden Eternal won't be missed by many in this quadrant of the blogosphere, I suspect. I know Telwyn of Gaming SF played and wrote about it now and again. Maybe a few others might have given it a look once, out of curiosity.

Of course, if it was one of those games that bloggers write about often that would at least suggest there might be enough interest to keep the servers running. When no-one even name-checks your game in passing it's never a good sign.


The fourth and thus far final game to be shuttered by Gamigo is the one I'll miss most: Twin Saga. I really liked Twin Saga. It not only gets a tag here but there are two posts dedicated to it specifically, both from 2017, when I played the game for several weeks and got a character to something like level fifty.

It had a gorgeous, vivid cartoon look and a bizarre, surreal, frequently disturbing prose style, whose sheer peculiarity could not be entirely explained away by the usual translation issues.

The thing I'll remember most about Twin Saga, though, is the housing. My character lived in a terracottage, a virtual mansion, complete with conservatory and roof garden, sitting atop a giant tortoise. You can travel the world in your house. And I did. For a while.

Not for long, though, because the other thing I'll remember about Twin Saga is how hard it got. I didn't stop because I was bored with it. I stopped because I hit a wall in the levelling game and couldn't get past it. I returned several times to see if it had gotten any easier but it never had. Now it never will.


All the games Gamigo are sending into the ultimate east close their doors for the final time on the same day, April 29th. That gives current players a couple of months to get their affairs in order, say their tearful goodbyes and work out what to do with themselves when the games they loved no longer exist.

Presumably there aren't going to be all that many people in that unfortunate situation. Gamigo's given reasons for the cull are purely commercial. Apparently the games cannot sustain themselves, which presumably means they cost more to run than the cash shops bring in.

I wonder how strictly true that is? Obviously those four games won't be making much of a profit because if they were you can absolutely guarantee they'd still be up and running. On the other hand, Gamigo has been on a buying spree these last couple of years. They've snapped up Trion, Aeria Games and most recently Kingsisle.

That's given them a much bigger protfolio than they ever had before. It's a lot of mmorpgs under one roof. And some of the recent acquisitions, particularly ArcheAge, Trove and Wizard 101, have hugely more traction in the marketplace than the likes of Eden Eternal or Twin Saga. It's not unrealistic to imagine there's a need for clarity in the offer as much as there is a desire that each and every game should be self-sustaining.


One of the pillars of Wilhelm's argument concerning the drag factor of elderly games on the development of new ones is the near-obsessive commitment of fans. Not just the continued desire to keep playing the same old games but the will and ability to make that possible even if the companies that nominally own the games aren't interested any more.

It's true. The emulator and private server scene is huge. There are grey market versions of games it's hard to imagine anyone cared about enough to recover from the void. But players do care. 

I've written a few times about the ongoing project to revive the game I knew as Ferentus. I only ever played that game, briefly, in beta. And yet I've never forgotten it. As with a number of more than half-forgotten titles I occasionally google it and a while back when I did that I ended up on a website telling me it was coming back. 

Since then I've played it a couple of times on open beta weekends. And it's as much fun as I remembered. I wouldn't spend my free time helping to bring it back but I'm very grateful someone has. 


Will someone do the same for the Gamigo Four? We'll see. I'd put the odds pretty low for Eden Eternal and Twin Saga but I suspect Defiance may have had the kind of audience that will see keeping it alive as a challenge. I hope so. 

For all that the persistence of old mmoprgs acts a drag anchor on the development of new ones, I hate to see any of them die. They will, though. As time goes on the seeming invulnerability to time that's been a hallmark of the genre will inevitably erode. 

More and more games will disappear for good. It's a shame but I don't think we can complain too much. After all, they've already lasted far, far longer than either their players or their developers imagined they could.

The only question left for me now is whether to use these last couple of months to revisit old haunts for a final time, maybe set foot in some new ones, while the opportunity still exists. 

I'm not sure I will. It's probably best just to let them slip quietly away.


  1. I was thinking about a post on the Gamingo closures, but I didn't play any of them and do not have much to add other than I suppose there is a point when the cost to run a multiplayer online game isn't higher than zero. But I have always maintained that it was likely more than we imagine due to licensing of code and libraries used within the game and the need to keep up to date on security. Also, in the case of Gamigo, the need to keep up to date on the integration with their own internal systems.

    1. It looks to me as if Gamigo had a stable of older games with falling revenues and they decided to deal with it by going out and acquiring some replacements that might have considerably more life in them. Along with those they got a few duffers and now they're geting rid of the old ones that caused the problem in the first place and the new ones that they got lumbered with along with the ones they actually wanted.

      Whether the four they're dropping make money probably isn't the issue. It's whether they're more trouble now than that money is worth.

  2. I played Defiance a few times on the PS3. Among the three FPS MMOs I tried there, Defiance, Destiny and Dust, it was my favorite. I still didn't like it enough to play for more than a couple of evenings, but I could see why someone might really get into it.

    1. I might try it before it closes but honestly, if I haven't by now it hardly seems worth it.

  3. What I found most interesting about that Massively post you linked to was that I'd no idea that Pirate 101 and Wizard 101 had been bought by Gamigo from Kingsisle. I did check out Wizard 101 back in the day with an eye toward letting my kids play MMOs, and it was basically a version of a CCG put to an MMO format. I will admit it was better designed and implemented than the LEGO quasi-MMO that was out there at the time (and shut down almost as fast as it appeared.) Wizard 101 also was heavily monetized, which turned me away from the idea of Wizard 101 and toward a more traditional MMO, such as LOTRO, for them to play.

    I'll also point out that games may fade, but they never stop being played. I still have my 2ed copy of Talisman that (pre-pandemic) I used to pull out once or twice a year, as well as the old Avalon Hill Civilization title. Both of which are long gone.

    As for games, I was happy to (re-) acquire Darklands from Microprose via Steam, because my original floppy version no longer works. Same with the original Medieval: Total War, which as an area control Total War game is a nice change of pace from the current models of Total War.


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