While this is the year that Fortnite made it big, it wasn’t a year without some very sad departures. We saw studios close and beloved games disappear. We’re taking a look at the online games shut down in 2018 with a wide view that includes MMORPG, MOBA, and Battle Royale alike. These are the games we sadly lost in 2018.
RuneScape Classic, not to be confused with RuneScape or Old School RuneScape, sunsetted earlier this year. Jagex touted the evolving nature of their tools and those self-same tools being incompatible with RuneScape Classic, leading to an increased chance of abuse and data breaches. The game itself may have broken without any warning as things continued developing away from the original codebase. Also in this year, Jagex shut down Chronicles: RuneScape Legends, Ace of Spades and their FunOrb game portal.
Daybreak Games has had an odd year, what with being implicated in the ongoing drama that is the presidency of Donald Trump. Columbus Nova and Russian oligarchs aside, Just Survive was originally H1Z1. Like any good zombie virus, it mutated into two variants with a battle royale spawning off of the sandbox survival game. Now Just Survive is gone and the battle royale seems to have been the survivor. Per the official statement “While this chapter for Just Survive has come to an end, we are discussing the possibility of allowing our partner and developer of Z1 Battle Royale, NantG Mobile, to bring Just Survive back online and take over the development of the game sometime in the future. Should we have further information to share regarding that matter, we'll be sure to inform you accordingly.”
Carbine Studios, the developer of WildStar, was shut down by NCSoft earlier this year and with it the game itself. According to reporting in Kotaku, Carbine had been pitching projects to its parent company but failed to gain any traction with them. This along with the general decline of WildStar led to the business decision to close the studio and game.
Master x Master
After spending much of 2017 trying to appeal to former City of Heroes players by bringing out beloved iconic characters from the game, MXM ultimately shut down at the end of January. From the start though it seemed like a questionable proposition. It was late to the MOBA scene and trying to take an idea that had already been used by Blizzard of using iconic characters from their various games. Unfortunately for NCSoft, most of the games they focused on are practically unknown in the West and the games that are well known are controversial or downright unpopular. The exception to that is Guild Wars 2, which MXM hardly touched at all. Ultimately, NCSoft admitted that they failed to connect with players.
Epic Games used to be known as the creators of the Unreal Engine. These days they are probably known to everyone above a certain age as “the guys who make Fortnite.” Before the meteoric rise of Fortnite, however, there was Paragon. Paragon failed to take off in the already crowded MOBA market and soon was overshadowed by its battle royale cousin. In possibly the showiest goodbye possible short of giving out the server code, Epic Games gave full refunds to all players and then made $12 million worth of assets and art available for free in the Unreal Engine marketplace.
LawBreakers & Radical Heights
LawBreakers made news in that its shut down came not as the company tried different things but as the company ceases to be. Cliff Bleszinski’s Boss Key didn’t achieve the success they had hoped with LawBreakers and looked for options to stave off what was looming ahead of the company. They turned to the battle royale market and brought Radical Heights to the table. They may have had more success if they had broken out as a go-to game but in a genre that was dominated by PUBG and Fortnite, the 80s themed Radical Heights failed to achieve any heights at all. With its last failed attempt, Boss Key is no more.
This one will have shades of Paragon around it. Trion Worlds, the publisher in the west, had to shutter Devilian as the developer Bluehole Ginno decided to discontinue work on the title. Devilian had its last run in March. How much of that came as a result of Bluehole Ginno becoming the PUBG Corporation and going all in on 2017s rising star is anyone's guess. As it was the Diablo-like had a reasonable run but ultimately must have failed to grab enough of an audience for a maintenance mode conversion.
Various Perfect World Games
Jagex isn’t the only publisher that had multiple closures this year. Perfect World Entertainment bid adieu to three entries this year, some more venerable than the others. Jade Dynasty, clocking in at a respectable 9 years, and Swordsman Online, itself four years old, was announced for sunset. Unfortunately, they were soon joined by Gigantic, the MOBA developed by Motiga. Poor Gigantic had the looks but sadly not the hooks to keep players in and playing. As the official statement put it, “Despite our best efforts, we were unable to find an impactful solution that would help Gigantic breakthrough in a crowded market.”
Amazon Studios came out swinging when it was announced. A 4v4 mythological sports brawler Breakaway, a survival MMO New World and the development engine Lumberyard. Lumberyard is still going, New World is in alpha but Breakaway… isn't.
“In spite of our efforts, we didn’t achieve the breakthrough that made the game what we all hoped it could be. After a lot of soul-searching, the team decided to focus on new ideas. As a result, Breakaway is no longer in active development.”
Club Penguin Island
The children's MMO Club Penguin closed in 2017 only to be replaced by Club Penguin Island. Sadly for the dozens of employees at the game’s Kelowna, British Columbia studio, it wasn’t to last with Disney deciding to cut costs and with the title.
Earlier this year Linkrealms players received an email saying the game would shut down. Linkrealms was a game in the style of Ultima Online and despite being f2p on Steam, came to a close in February.
Dead and Back Again
Sometimes there is a light at the end of the tunnel for games going dark.
The Robotic forces of Perpetuum Online proved at the start of the year that there is no eternal thing, no perpetual motion and sadly announced a shutdown after several years of service. The death came as a consequence of the financial situation, servers being expensive to run if there aren’t enough people spending money on keeping them going.
Then in a wonderful turn around for this article, Perpetuum came back in the Open Perpetuum Project. As they happily announced on the Steam Community forums: “The Open Perpetuum Project, a community run server and development initiative, has stepped up to host and develop features for their server for all players to enjoy.”
Some games aren't quite gone yet, but the developers are no longer working on them.
Robbing Peter to pay Paul is an old story. Moving development teams around as necessary is as old as the first computer. Earlier this year Ubisoft moved things around leading to the announcement that there would be no further development on The Crew in favor of The Crew 2 and the move of the first one into maintenance mode.
Hand of the Gods
Hand of the Gods: SMITE Tactics, a turn-based strategy game from Hi-Rez Studios also entered maintenance mode this year. As noted on Twitter by Hi-Rez president Stewart Chisam, “We have been working on and off on a nice bug fix patch to come out sometime soon. But no major content updates on the schedule. Servers will stay up as long as we have enough people wanting to play.”
If there are any of those left, they certainly aren’t haunting the subreddit which is remarkably quiet.
Islands of Nyne: Battle Royale
Created by Define Human Studios, Islands of Nyne: Battle Royale certainly had the look of a very pretty Battle Royale game. Unfortunately this month the axe came down somewhat on the Islands. Unable to financially support development costs, the decision was made by Define Human Studios to convert the game to free to play with the promise that servers will continue to stay up for the foreseeable future. It’s still free to play on Steam if you want to have a look at how the game is progressing without developer support.
The developer of Fragmented came out early in 2018 to say that the game was only in maintenance mode.
“Future patches will likely be similar to the last couple patches, focusing on streamlining and bug fixes.” Said Above & Beyond’s J.C. Smith. What began as an attempt to help out the other Above & Beyond game, The Repopulation, sadly failed to deliver salvation.
Fractured Space from Edge Case games entered maintenance mode this October. The spaceship based MOBA blended shooter combat with strategy and multistage maps to create something new for players to get to grips with. Sadly it wasn’t able to draw in a large number of players and entered maintenance mode. In a surprising turn, a month after the news of the quasi-shutdown, our business column reported on Wargaming picking up the developer Edge Case Games to work on a still-unannounced MMO. World of Spaceships anyone?
It's sad to see so many great titles on this list. Did one of your favorites shut down this year? If so, which game did you move on to? Hopefully 2019 is a little kinder to our hearts.