Each MMORPG is uniquely vulnerable to a final shutdown. Although it is more common than ever for video games to have multiplayer components, MMORPGs literally cannot function without the official servers being available. Unfortunately for fans, this means that there are many instances where beloved games that often enjoy years of success are shut down and become unavailable to play in any official capacity.
For some of these games, there are emulated servers available where fans can still enjoy the title in some way. However, the official servers are still down, including all the original player character data. No matter how much you or others may have loved these games, they are gone and sadly relegated to preservation rather than remaining online normally.
10/10 Defiance/Defiance 2050: An ambitious science-fiction project
The original Defiance was part of an elaborate and novel project, a collaboration between a TV show and an MMORPG where a player’s actions could affect the show and vice versa. The combination of the two and the unified setting, with both the game and the TV show taking place in the same world but in different locations, promised an interesting and new experience for players.
Unfortunately for fans, the TV series only lasted three seasons and attempts to keep Defiance going with a reboot and major update in the form of Defiance 2050 did not bring in new audiences. Both versions of the game were shut down in April 2021 after an eight-year run.
9/10 Landmark: The creative part of an unrealized game
Originally, Landmark was intended to act as a creative player sandbox service for the upcoming EverQuest Next, with players showcasing their creativity in Landmark and potentially being featured as a fundamental part of EverQuest Next. It was an interesting concept, albeit one that was poorly explained by the developers.
This also meant that when EverQuest Next was officially cancelled, the writing was on the wall for Landmark even though the game was still in beta testing at the time. After launch, it failed to gain sufficient traction and was shut down just eight months after its full release.
8/10 Final Fantasy XIV version 1.0: The original version of a huge hit
The popularity and success of Final Fantasy XIV is well known at this point. However, very few fans know that the version of the game that is available to play now is the rebooted version that was created after the original failed to capture the enthusiasm of the players. While many elements of the original version are present in FFXIV, the original featured an entirely separate set of areas and content not available in the current version, such as the Hamlet Defense system.
When asked about the possibility of the classic version returning, producer and director Naoki Yoshida described the possibility as a nightmare. So it seems unlikely that players will ever get access to this particular piece of MMORPG history.
7/10 Marvel Heroes: ARPG game with Marvel characters
A unique title, Marvel Heroes combined the click-and-slash gameplay of titles like Path of Exile and Diablo with one of the most popular IPs on the planet, the Marvel universe. As readers can imagine, the game benefited from the popularity of the MCU during its run.
The elements that ultimately sank this particular title were completely separate from its financial success. The CEO behind Gazillion, the game’s developer, faced ongoing harassment allegations that ultimately led to Disney ending its relationship with the studio. The game was shut down after a four-year run in December 2017.
6/10 Star Wars Galaxies: Sandbox Gameplay For A Beloved Franchise
For Star Wars fans who wished Luke Skywalker had stayed on Tatooine and relied on being a moisture farmer, Star Wars Galaxies was the game for you. The game’s freeform structure prioritized a multitude of options for players. It featured crafting and dancing, and emphasized non-combat gameplay as a core ideal while giving players access to a wide variety of Star Wars races.
The game had (and still has) many fans, and it was successful enough to run for eight years. However, prior to the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic (an entirely different type of game, although still familiar to fans of BioWare), it was announced that the license for the game would not be renewed and would be discontinued in December 2011.
5/10 WildStar: Colorful Space Western Adventure
With an original aesthetic, a sharp sense of humor and a gorgeous soundtrack, WildStar released to immediate success and much enthusiasm. Unfortunately for the game, that enthusiasm quickly cooled as players hit the level cap, and punishing dungeons and even more intensely difficult raids drove them away.
Attempts to ease endgame requirements and save the game through a free-to-play shift were ultimately unsuccessful. Despite its promising launch, WildStar closed in November 2018, four and a half years after its initial arrival.
4/10 Vanguard: A spiritual sequel that didn’t come across
This game was the product of Brad McQuaid, the same designer behind the early hit MMO EverQuest, and it had big ambitions from its early concept onwards. Unfortunately for the game, it suffered from a troubled chain of publishers and low budget for an ambitious title.
While the game had some pre-release buzz, it struggled to attract and retain players even when it transitioned to a free-to-play model. The title was eventually discontinued in July 2014.
3/10 The Matrix Online: The Sequel We Never Got Finished
Even before The Matrix Resurrections, a sequel was planned for The Matrix films; in the form of a video game. The Matrix Online was an ambitious project that married players with an ongoing story developed in the wake of the sequels to the original films. It allows players to choose sides and play out the aftermath of the truce between humans and machines.
Design struggles and a saturated MMO market meant that The Matrix Online struggled to establish its footing, and it ultimately never completed its stories and shut down in August 2009, with fewer than 500 active players. And if you were curious, No! The Matrix Resurrections does not refer to its history.
2/10 Asheron’s Call: An Original Sprawling Adventure
One of the earliest major MMORPGs, Asheron’s Call was an expansive game with a diverse skill system, a unique setting, and no hard zone lines across the world, even back in 1999. Although it may not have been as well known as Ultima Online or EverQuest , it carved out a crucial niche and became a popular title over its long run.
What ultimately killed the game was actually a shift in business. Turbine, the studio that developed the game, split into two studios. Turbin and the IP rights to the game remained under WB Interactive. On the other hand, the ownership of Turbine’s other MMORPGs (Lord of the Rings Online, one of the best games in that world, and Dungeons & Dragons Online) moved to the new Standing Stone Games. After 18 years, the game was finally shut down in January 2017.
1/10 City Of Heroes: Superhero RPG
Who doesn’t want to be a superhero? Launched in 2005, City of Heroes developed a welcoming community and fans eager to have superhero adventures across Paragon City (and villain adventures across the Rogue Isles). After a rough initial launch, the game settled into a welcome cadence and had a steady stream of updates, improvements and new missions for heroes and villains alike.
Unfortunately, the game eventually fell foul of the sinister villain Dr. Financial Restructuring, which led to the game being shut down after eight and a half years in November 2012. The fan protests were many and outspoken, and to this day whispers emerge from the servers will return once more.
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