Pantheon : No Rise For The Fallen

Visionary Realms Inc’s Pantheon Rise of the Fallen has failed to kickstart. Before we discuss the potential whys of that, for anyone interested in Pantheon or looking to continue funding of it post Kickstarter head on over to www.pantheonrotf.com to pledge your support. There are, after all, different roads to success.

What Was It To Be?
Pantheon Rise of the Fallen is billed as a high fantasy massively multi player rpg with big focuses on both tougher game play than its competitors and on group based content. Much like other kickstarted MMO games it was focused on a particular type of gamer with a particular sort of focus. Visionary Realms wasn’t just spinning for the hell of it, the pedigree behind Pantheon is proven and headed up by Brad McQuaid. If the name isn’t familiar, perhaps you’ll recognize Everquest or Vanguard?
Suffice to say he and his team are MMO vets fully prepared to deliver on their vision. I should also point out a slight grammatical note, I say are instead of were, they are not out of the game yet. Just because Kickstarter didn’t work for them doesn’t mean that they are giving up. The idea lives on as does the company and the funding drive.
In short, the elevator pitch of Pantheon is a hardcore team based game in the vein of early Everquest. They want it to be tough, they want it to be dangerous but they also want that danger to be rewarding. Bring friends, work as a close knit team, conquer the world of Terminus. It’s the sort of punchy mission statement that makes me want to drop a pledge on it and I have never even played Everquest. But what’s not to love about the golden days? The heady early days where we all had to work together and as a community because … it was dangerous out there. Worse, it was unforgiving.
Pantheon Rise Of The Fallen Concept Art
How Did It Do?
 
Here’s the hard part of dissecting Kickstarters. Some people can have absolute runaway success …. and fail to deliver everything. The added funds, the added prestige, the numbers of backers, they all combine to sometimes change the original vision and not always for the better.
Add to that the ideas of Kickstarter fatigue where people won’t pledge because they’ve done so before and are still waiting to see some tangible returns or the common misconception that a pledge is in some fashion a pre order. It isn’t. A pledge is exactly that, you offering your money to see the dream realized. The rewards are exactly that, a previously agreed amount of thanks given to their supporters great and small.
Together this makes it hard to sound as though I am not critiquing. I personally have never gone through the roller coaster that is a Kickstarter. I have never have that good of an idea that I have been able to bring it to the Internet at large and hold out my hat in the hopes that people want to see it. So keep that in mind. I’m going to talk about some of the stats of both Pantheon and a similar game as reported by KickTraq. Charts, where seen, are entirely theirs.
Charts from KickTraq.com

Charts from KickTraq.com

So how did it do? It failed by a noticeable margin. This wasn’t just missing the bar, of the $800,000 asked for, they managed $460,657. Over half, but not quite 60% of the goal.
The obvious comparison here is to Camelot Unchained by City State Entertainment which was also run on Kickstarter and funded successfully.
Also while Camelot Unchained did meet it’s goal and get another 11% on top of the $2million sought, it was close for a while. There was every possibility up until the closing days that they wouldn’t make it.
Charts from KickTraq.com

Charts from KickTraq.com

Regarding the stats for Pantheon, there’s a few immediate observations.
Firstly there are days where it lost money. People either feared it wouldn’t fund or changed their minds about what they could offer. So those particular dates the goal got further away.
Secondly, in comparison to Camelot Unchained, the amount of comments per day are smaller by an order of magnitude.
What Does It All Mean?
 
I know that Visionary Realms did its level best to drum up support and commentary. Anywhere you looked during the funding period if it wasn’t VRI as a company giving interviews and showing off their baby, it was Brad McQuaid himself out to win hearts, minds and wallets. As stated before, the failure of the Kickstarter has not stopped them from continuing the mission to bring us the game.
But how and why did the Kickstarter fail? Obviously the simplest response would be enough and we could walk away. Specifically “people didn’t fund it”.
That doesn’t deal with why they didn’t.
For this I’m going to take a slight tangent and blame Scott Pilgrim Vs The World.
Scott Pilgrim, if you have or have not seen the movie, didn’t make back its budget. Not even after tax rebates applied brought the budget down. It was likely made worse for Universal Pictures because they saw how popular the comic was online and conflated noisy online fans with actual numbers of fans.
Hands up how many people looked at Pantheon and thought it sounded cool? I think it does but I can tell you it’s not a game I’d ever play. I think ultimately the Kickstarter failed for the same reason Universal Pictures spent so much money advertising the movie.
Just because people have major love and nostalgia over Everquest and the days of MMOs gone by, that doesn’t mean that they have the time or inclination to play it all over again.
Camelot Unchained was in the same boat and almost didn’t make its goal. It traded on the name of Dark Age of Camelot, and why not, seeing as well… Mark Jacobs was there heading it up. It traded on the nostalgia of time gone by and the hard fight against the other guys. Those two other factions that you need and want to hate because clearly your own is superior. It, like Pantheon, promises a core experience, a lean MMO more concerned with the mechanics and systems that made its spiritual origin so successful.
Pantheon Rise Of The Fallen Kickstarter Art
Don’t think that Visionary Realms didn’t work as hard as City State to bring their vision to life. They clearly did. The fault lays with the customer. The target audience.
You Can’t Go Back
 
The audience is what appears most of all to be lacking for Pantheon. I hope that in the coming weeks and months and years that they prove me wrong. I hope that the heroes of Terminus one day break onto the MMO stage and make us all feel bad for doubting them and ideally a little inferior for playing the easier game.
The problem with the audience to my mind is, we’re all getting older. I love that time has not diminished the passion Brad McQuaid and his team has. I love that time has not dimmed the fond memories people have of those older harder games where you lived or died by your friends.
I just know I couldn’t go back to them. No matter how updated, no matter how modern they’d look, to my own heart they seem like a drive in the wrong direction. I felt the same way about Camelot, I feel the same way about Pantheon.
If others do too, maybe that’s why the wallets stayed closed. Why the funds weren’t there. It’s a pity if that is the reason because it’s one borne out of fear. Both fear of growing old and fear of how hard games used to be. There’s no Nintendo Hard nowadays to my mind, barring EVE.
If you doubt the comment about getting old, remember, even if it had made the goal, the game itself still would be years off. These things take time. Neither Rome nor Terminus were or could ever be built in a day.
I hope in the end I am proven wrong. I hope Visionary Realms gets to bring Pantheon out and gets to take that place that seems prepared. The one filled with nostalgia, with group focused content and with promise.
I hope that one day it’s also filled with pledges and customers. Or there’ll be no Rise of the Fallen.
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About Jonathan Doyle

Once long ago Westwood made a space game. Earth And Beyond was the start of the journey. From there, through Paragon City and to the fields of Altdorf, there were battles. Westwood brought me to MMOs. City of Heroes refined my love for them. Warhammer brought me to writing about them. He loves all things space, sci fi, Warhammer or heroic.