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Bloodbath at SOE – Four Titles Closing Down, PlanetSide Goes F2P January 24, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Sony Online Entertainment, Vanguard SOH.
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In one of those “Good news, bad news, more bad news, even more bad news, how about a tiny bit of good news, now can I bring up some more bad news” scenarios, Sony Online Entertainment announced that they had finalized their plans for their change over of all subscriptions types to the full boat SOE All Access plan, which they fumbled on earlier in the month, but which will now be just $14.99 a month and which will still come with a 500 Station Cash monthly stipend.

Once known as Station Access...

Now the plan for everybody

There is a new FAQ up in the official SOE forums describing the plan., which will be put in place “on or about” April 2, 2014.  (No April Fools Jokes for SOE!)

Down in the FAQ there are a few rather less-than-minor details, like the fact that SOE will be closing down four of their games.  Those on the list:

So SOE is going to expand their “all the MMOs you can eat” plan while at the same time cutting back on the number of MMOs on the menu.

I always say, there will be plenty of time for recriminations later.  I expect a lot to bubble up after this.  I await the SynCaine post on the F2P business model for openers.

As for the games themselves, I never really played any of them for any long duration, so my feelings on the closures are pretty subdued.

Clone Wars Adventures was an adjunct to a TV show that is no longer on the air, plus EA snagged the rights to all Star Wars video games in May of last year, so this one closing isn’t a real surprise.  It will just stand as a lesson in not investing in virtual hats.

Free Realms was never a thing for me.  My daughter played it for a bit until they broke the Mac OSX client one too many times, which weaned her from the game.  She had a lifetime membership, which I am sure means nothing.  This was SOE’s first game designed to be free to play, one Smed wanted to play with his kids.  I guess the kids grew up in the last five years.

Wizardry Online was awful in my opinion, but I came in saying I am not big on Asian imported MMOs.  I won’t miss this one at all.  I am surprised it made it this long.  I am, however, counting it towards my prediction that more than half a dozen crap Asian F2P MMOs will fold up shop this year in the US market.

And then there is Vanguard.  There is a bit of strange timing here, with Brad McQuaid launching a Kickstarter for a new game just as his last one is finally getting the axe.  I was comparing him to Mark Jacobs and Lord British in that their first MMOs were good and their second MMOs got the axe… except for Vanagurd.  Well, now the comparison is complete.

Surprisingly, the original PlanetSide did NOT get the axe.  I have no idea why.  I would have put it on that list first thing.  But it is a Smed favorite I guess.

In fact, they are going to make it a free to play title.  They are actually expending some effort on that ghost town.  Did they learn nothing when they converted Vanguard?

So, in the end, the shiny SOE All Access subscription plan to be introduced “on or about” April 2 will buy you gold memberships to:

  • EverQuest
  • EverQuest II
  • PlanetSide
  • PlanetSide 2
  • DC Universe Online

And I think with this move, SOE has stolen the crown from NCSOFT for the most closed MMOs.  Because SOE.

Addendum: Oh, and I apparently forgot about the completely forgettable Dragon’s Prophet in the SOE lineup.  When did Asian imports become a thing for SOE?  Anyway, it just opened late last year, so it was probably too soon to shut it down contractually.  But it looks like it ranks with Wizardry Online when it comes to potential.

More comments from other sources:

Comments»

1. Hemvar - January 24, 2014

Bye Vanguard :(

2. Wilhelm Arcturus - January 24, 2014

Ironic twist: Today’s comment spam contains many “Free Realms Station Cash Code Generator” entries. One last dying gasp to scam some people on that?

3. Start of the Dominos | Leo's Life - January 25, 2014

[…] MMOs in one shot.  Is that a grand slam?  As reported in a few spots now, SOE is taking the bold move of shutting down some MMOs.  Pretty much half of their line up, since […]

4. Omali (@mmofallout) - January 25, 2014

I can only hope that SOE stops importing MMOs. Bullet Run, Wizardry Online, Dragon’s Prophet. None of them are terrible, exactly, but they are forgettable. I doubt that many people remember Bullet Run even though it just shut down a year ago.

5. NetherLands - January 25, 2014

While I oddly like Wizardry once I got past the camera-control thing (oddly, as with no world-just Dungeons-little solo content it shouldn’t be my cup of tea), at least on the EU server I could always count the amount of players apparently active (you join Channels when you Zone-in which show +/- how much other players are there) on my digits so it’s not a surprise.

Vnaguard is and is not.

It is, as they had just added new CM members, extra content and was explicetdly named as part of the new SOE pass.

It is not, as the game actively discouraged you from subscribing if you weren’t all that interested in rushing to the level cap to Raid but instead wanted to enjoy the oldskool, seemless world, by doubling your XP and Rep gains and give out extra Loot in case you subscribed.

This change made me end my yearly recurring sub, and going by the Forums at the time I wasn’t the only ‘recent convert’ to do so.

While we may differ on the validity of F2P, I think that discouraging people to subscribe by removing/deluding the main thing that sets a title apart from others was a bad move.

I hope this doesn’t mean that SOE will go to a ‘Norrath, in four different flavors’ model, the one thing that made the Access Pass appealing is a variety in games.

6. bhagpuss - January 25, 2014

In the very interesting Reddit thread Smed says his daughter is currently playing 20 hours a week of Free Realms. As for Dragon Prophet, I suspect that may be more successful than we who don’t play it are imagining. It’s from the same stable as Runes of Magic, which is also not played by anyone on my Feedly list but which will be five years old this March.

Vanguard closing is a small but inevitable tragedy. We’re just lucky we had Telon for as long as we did. I’ll be making time to visit some old haunts and take some video. A lot of video. I’m even going to rebuild my house.

The good news buried in the mix, for me at least, is confirmation that EU All Access accounts with grandfather rights retain those rights under the new deal. I get a $5 reduction in my sub and I stay directly with SOE for everything other than EQNext, the plan for which has yet to be announced. Fingers crossed it will end up being too much trouble to make an exception for that and my grandfather rights will carry over there too.

On balance, leaving my personal feelings about Vanguard to one side, this looks like a good move. With Landmark and EQN, plus the surprise, unnamed, son-of-SWG, in a year or so SOE will have seven “name” MMOs – EQ, EQ2, Landmark, EQN, PS2, DCUO and the mystery one. Plus DP. That’s more than enough MMOs for any one studio to run simultaneously. I probably forgot one or two at that…

7. SoE: MMO killing spree! | GamingSF - January 25, 2014

[…] only tried Vanguard, Wilhelm has a nice summary of his thoughts on each game plus some links to other thoughts from around the blogosphere on this. The loss of […]

8. Jenks - January 25, 2014

Really sucks that they can’t leave a single server up for some of these games. If you took away all the support and just left it as is with the occasional reboot, I wonder how much it cost them to run a single server of games like EQOA, EQMac, and Vanguard.

9. Wilhelm Arcturus - January 26, 2014

@Jenks – Well, in one of those AMA articles I linked at the end of the post, Smed indicates it wasn’t even a profitability thing when it came to just running the server, but the need to upgrade systems for security purposes. So they cannot just leave a game server sitting in a closet somewhere and reboot in every so often.

10. UnSubject - January 27, 2014

I’ve made the point on my own blog that SOE picking up Bullet Run only to close it for PlanetSide 2’s launch and picking up Wizardy only to close it for EverQuest Next looked like some planning had gone on there.

11. chaosrook - January 27, 2014

While I have played World of Warcraft sense vanilla I still think that I have sunk more of my money into my sons starwars the clone wars adventures account. He was getting point cars like once a week at one point for costumes and so forth. He had a lifetime membership to. Well lifetime doesnt seem so far away now it seems.

12. Vanguard Rising, and Falling | To Game For Life - January 31, 2014

[…] of artistic endeavor w-r-t MMO’s) and Stargrace (who is, simply, sad), to Wilhelm who has far too broad a set of thoughts to […]


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