Online components: the current “key” to success and popularity in games. Game developers are looking more and more into shipping titles with online functionality, allowing people to interact with others all over the world. Social interaction, combined with competition, are seemingly what everyone wants in their titles, with games like The Elder Scrolls and Neverwinter Nights getting their own online iterations. But what games promised success, ingenuity and popularity and instead crashed and burned? Let’s find out.
Jagex Games Studio
Jagex, the masterminds behind the ever-popular browser-based game Runescape, decided in 2011 that they would enter the online strategy game world with the title 8Realms. Entering a market that is already flooded with titles that are both great and not-so-great, Jagex felt their experience from crafting Runescape would carry over into 8Realms.
With promises such as 8Realms being able to “challenge Total War and Civilisation”, Jagex aimed for the heavens with their title, but definitely fell flat. After being in beta testing for a year, 8Realms was “underperforming” and only had apparently only “1/10th of its expected player-base”.
These disappointments led to Jagex recently deciding to axe the title, with Daniel Clough, COO of Jagex, stating that “it has become clear that the game does not meet our high expectations for success”. Hopefully this failure doesn’t inspire Jagex to not pursue creativity with Runescape, however.
4: Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy is a decades-old game series with numerous successes and failures both. The previous online instalment, Final Fantasy XI, was a resounding success – it was (and is) the most popular MMORPG in Japan and still has a resounding player-base in America and Europe.
On the eve of releasing Final Fantasy XIII, SquareEnix dropped a bombshell – Final Fantasy XIV would be releasing the same year and would be a brand-new MMORPG set in a realm named Eorzea. Offering a blend of classic and modern Final Fantasy gameplay blended with timeless online play learned from Final Fantasy XI, Final Fantasy XIV promised a hell of a lot more than it delivered.
From beta to release, Final Fantasy XIV promised a lot more than it ever delivered. Combat was originally painful to participate in and was limited anyway, there was not much to do and the game was poor over-all. The only thing that Final Fantasy XIV promised that was ultimate fulfilled was the beauty of the game.
SquareEnix is a company that listens to its fans when it comes to failure, however. Working their team tirelessly since release, the game has only been pay-to-play for a few months instead of just after release. Patches have reformed the game with every one’s release. Combat is enjoyable and reminiscent of classic Final Fantasy blended with new. The last thing SquareEnix promise to deliver is a remake of the game – dubbed Version 2.0 – which promises to be a brand new game and hopefully lure back the subscribers Final Fantasy XIV deserves.
3: League of Legends: Dominion
League of Legends is one of, if not the, most popular games in the world right now. Played in most countries with a stable internet connection, League of Legends is Riot’s take on the ever-popular Defence of the Ancients map for Warcraft III. It turns out Riot’s recipe is a popular one, turning Riot Games into a huge company with offices in Europe and America.
It is the simple yet repetitive gameplay that attracts people to play League of Legends; people like to fight other people, and people like to compete. Mix the two together and you get a boat-load of fun. The game thrived, but after a few years of the same-old, same-old, people started to get titchy and want a new game-mode of some regard: some sort of capture-the-flag mode, or a more-direct Player vs. Player map.
Well, Riot Games delivered, with League of Legends: Dominion. Granted, Dominion isn’t a new game but rather a game-mode, a subset of vanilla League of Legends. It promised fast-paced, frantic gameplay with a mix of hard combat and deep tactics.
What instead shipped was a game that, while a lot of fun originally, didn’t really have anything going for it. The Capture-and-Hold game-mode has surmounted to “pick a tough team with the better late-game and watch what happens”. The tactics and strategy are minimal and the game really isn’t that enjoyable if you play it a lot.
While Dominion IS enjoyable, it fell just short of the “it’s fast, it’s fun” tagline popularised by the community. With still no ranked mode months after its release, Dominion didn’t really need a lot more work to deliver, it just needed a little bit more balance with what it wanted to accomplish.
2: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Star Wars: The Old Republic, like Final Fantasy XIV, is the second online title of an ever-popular series. It was supposed to be the next generation of MMORPG, pushing the boundaries of what we all know, offering superb voice-acting with a killer storyline and kickass gameplay to boot.
Well, BioWare delivered that… sort of. The game had superb voiceacting and a really good storyline… but it didn’t push boundaries. Quotes of “It’s World of Warcraft, with lightsabers!” and “Get to the end and there’s nothing to do” resounded through the internet. The game was supposedly too easy, the game was originally too easy to farm Credits in, so on and so forth.
Honestly, the only next-generation thing BioWare really promised was the voice-acting. It showed how a good story should be told in a video game, it just didn’t show how to execute things. Unlike the previous online Star Wars game, Jedi Knights were everywhere, there was little to sandbox around and the game felt static and un-impacted.
A lot like World of Warcraft. What a coincidence. It’s not like everyone had been copying its success for years beforehand. Copy it again, you’ll beat it, don’t worry! This is why Star Wars: The Old Republic has lost a really large chunk – 400,000, or around 25% - of its subscribers just a few months after release.
1: APB: All Points Bulletin
Everyone loves a little bit of Grand Theft Auto, so Realtime Worlds decided that they would take what everyone loves and make it better. Thus became All Points Bulletin, which everyone dubbed “GTA, but online!” Honestly, it sounded freaking sweet. A large, urban sandbox where you can drive around in fast cars and beat hookers for cocaine, All Points Bulletin promised sounded like a dream-come-true.
Turns out dreams are for suckers, because All Points Bulletin sucked. People ended up paying for a completely unfinished game, where mechanics were broken left-right- and centre and people had no idea what they could and should do. Realtime Worlds supposedly launched the game so they would get an injection of cash so they could finish it, but people didn’t stick around for the patches and quickly jumped ship. See, if you promise large and deliver nothing, people lose interest very quickly. The only golden point about the game was the character customisation, which was a lot of fun.
However, it was never meant to be: 79 days after release, All Points Bulletin was shut down, a record for the online gaming industry. All Points Bulletin was purchased, Realtime Worlds shut down, and All Points Bulletin transitioned into a free-to-play, semi-popular title.
By Thomas Robinson - Bio