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.
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:
- Free Realms – Closing March 31, 2014
- Star Wars: Clone War Adventures – Closing March 31, 2014
- Wizardry Online - Closing July 31, 2014
- Vanguard: Saga of Heroes – Closing July 31, 2014
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 II
- 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:
- Bio Break – The SOEpocalypse is upon us
- MMO Fallout – SOE Shutting Down Four MMOs
- MMO Fallout – John Smedley Reddit AMA Highlights
- Harbinger Zero – Gutted
- Leo’s Life – Start of the Dominoes
- MMO Quests – My Favorite Vanguard Memories
- EQ2 Wire – John Smedley Takes to Reddit
- Inventory Full – Six Months: Vanguard
- Gaming SF – SOE: MMO Killing Spree
- I Have Touched The Sky – Of Ends and Beginnings
- ECTMMO – SOE Sunsets
- Hardcore Casual – SOE: Still a One-Hit Wonder
- Ardwulf’s Lair – A Requiem for Vanguard
- ECTMMO – Archiving Vanguard, A little At A Time
- Inventory Full – Against the Fall of Night: Vanguard