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Sony Online Entertainment shuttering four games
Sony Online Entertainment shuttering four games
January 24, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

Sony Online Entertainment has announced plans to shut down four of its MMOs: Free Realms, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes and Wizardry Online. The first two will be shut down on March 31, and the latter will be shut down on July 31.

Sony Online made the decision to shut down these games so "we can refocus our resources on other areas in the best interest of our company and player community," according to a statement provided by the company to Gamasutra.

Free Realms launched in April 2009 as the company's first free-to-play title; by that July, it had reached 5 million users. Clone Wars Adventures followed in 2010, and is being shut down by mutual agreement with IP holder LucasArts, according to the statement Sony Online provided. In both cases, SOE stated that the games' respective audiences are "moving on" to other games or activities.

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes launched in 2007 from Sigil Games, and was later acquired by SOE and revamped, but a "declining player population" has resulted in the closure, the Sony Online statement says. Wizardry Online is a product of Japanese MMO developer Gamepot, and is operated by SOE in the West. It has operated in the U.S. just shy of a year so far, launching on January 30, 2013.

Players of the latter two games are being upgraded to SOE's "All Access" program for the duration of the games' remaining operation.

SOE president John Smedley is currently participating in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session to address fans' concerns and discuss the company's current and upcoming projects. It began at 3 PM PST.

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Kaze Kai
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I think MMOs in general are poorly-designed ways to drain players' money so to me, this is both not that big a deal and really sucks for the people who put money into those games. I played FreeRealms for a while and most of the features worth playing the game for had to be purchased.

Ron Dippold
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I think these are all in the 'They were still alive?' category. Except Wizardry Online in the 'That existed?' category. Protip: Abe Vigoda is still alive!

More seriously, Vanguard just got a (relatively) major upgrade, which apparently failed to drum up enough new interest so it's getting the axe. The people I know who quit Vanguard have not moved on to any other MMOs. Apparently there's nothing filling that niche, which may be where the currently 1700 backers of Pantheon come from:

Jonathan Murphy
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I offered an idea like making all armor sellable on the broker, and got my head chopped off by the community. It's become too inclusive. That pay wall to play Everquest Next beta isn't helping. This isn't just SoE's problem. The entire MMO market is doing a tail spin.

Adam Merkel
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...And yet they probably won't release code for private servers.

Seriously, can we stop this "taboo" where allowing private servers "defeat the purpose" of a MMO? Part of the problem with MMO development is that developers relate the word "massive" to the number of players who play the game. How about the size of the world, or the depth of the mechanics, or quite possibly something else that is much more financially feasible and can be met with expectation?

Richard Black
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I used to love Vanguard. I had a quite epic scope I appreciated and a lot of features most games no longer pursue. Open geography with housing and the ability to create ships and sail between continents was pretty fascinating. I remember examining it's failings after launch and it actually seemed to have been good inspite of itself with McQuaid tanking it and minor developers sneaking in good content, which seriously makes me doubt Pantheon will be at all worthwhile. The old AD&D inspired art had a great old school appeal to it and the individual intros were all incredibly in depth and quite well done, with the diplomacy addition curious and amusing. Once you got out of your initial cultural areas though content seemed to fall off the face of the map and the memory leaks, hitching, and crashing could make it a painful experience. Always made me wonder how great it could have been with more time, and less drama in development. I went back to check it out later once it went free to play and didn't last a day. Just reading what being a free player meant let me see they were following an utterly coercive and limiting model to gouge money out of you, and I guess at some point they'd done away with what I always felt was the biggest strength of the game, the individualized beginnings, to clump everyone together on a starter isle. I think if they followed a better designed free to play model they might have saved the game but the fondness I felt died pretty quickly when I saw what they were trying to pull on me. A little more subtlety when reaching for my wallet goes a long way.