2023 has only just kicked off and a heap of live service titles have already bitten the dust.
Here’s a list of all the titles I could find that have announced that they’re ending development:
- Marvel’s Avengers
- Back 4 Blood
- Knockout City
- Apex Legends Mobile
- The Witcher: Monster Slayer
That’s 9 titles in all, an average of about one shutdown announcement every 4 days since January began. You can also pretty much chuck Halo Infinite into that mix, and I guess The Crew 2, although that one is just making way for the next game in the franchise. We also saw Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier take its last gasp following an announcement made last October.
It’s a bleak state of affairs but in some ways, it makes sense that the year would be frontloaded with these announcements. It’s roadmap season, and if the writing for your game is already on the wall, it makes sense to set player expectations now.
A lot of these games feel like a flash in the pan. Disregarding AltspaceVR, which is more of a virtual platform rather than a game, only Avengers can count its lifespan in years rather than months and having launched in September 2020, it’s hardly been a storied history.
Anybody who lived through the MMORPG boom of the ‘00s will recognise that this was the sad inevitability of the GaaS boom that’s dominated the games industry in the wake of Fortnite’s success. The very fact that this was so obvious probably only hastened the demise of some of these titles.
Did anybody look at the pre-release marketing for Knockout City and think “This is a game which I want to play for years”? Did anybody get excited over thoughts of how Rumbleverse could be expanded across years of content updates?
A couple of console generations ago these games would’ve been released as online multiplayer titles, and the developers and players might have pushed for a map pack or two to expand the game’s relevance for another six months. That type of game doesn’t really exist anymore though, with both players and developers alike idealising the concept of the ‘forever game’.
Obviously, as somebody who runs an MMO blog, it’s a concept that I’m rather fond of too. But that doesn’t mean that I think a game which shuts down is a failure (it might be a financial failure for the studio, but that’s a whole different topic). And you, as a player, should not feel like a failure if you chose to play a game which didn’t live up to the promise of ‘forever game’.
Nobody ever said they regret that summer they spent playing GoldenEye on N64 just because there weren’t any new DLC or season passes. Likewise, we’ve all had fun playing some dumb game which was, by every objective measure, bad.
The key thing is that they were a fun time. If you had fun playing Avengers or Back 4 Blood or Apex Mobile then good for you.
As somebody who waved the banner for Star Wars Galaxies, take it from me: it’s about the journey, not the destination. Treasure the time you spent in the game and just move on. It isn’t worth dwelling on, especially when there are so many other potential favourites on the horizon.
Thankfully many of these games seem to be taking some small measure to keep the proverbial lights on for those still wanting to play. Maintenance mode is increasingly looking like the new normal (Rumbleverse being the outlier here – poor showing from Epic in not keeping the servers going). That’s a great step forward for game preservation, and it’s also reassuring to know that you can still decide to organise a play session with your friends if you want to.
It sucks seeing a game you enjoyed getting the plug pulled. It’s easy to feel bitter about the whole thing, especially when there are so many out there who relish celebrating when a game they don’t like or didn’t ever want to play gets shuttered. Ignore them. And whatever you do, don’t feel guilty about having ‘wasted your time’ playing a ‘dead game’.