Broadsword and Niche MMOs

Did Electronic Arts actually do us a favor this week with the whole Broadsword thing?

I mean, it may have been inadvertent… EA may have been trying to be its usual evil self, envisioning an attempt to create some layer of contract studio serfdom in order exploit an IP they own to the maximum amount of return… but does this benefit us?

What Broadsword thing?  Well, this:



Broadsword Online Games will partner with EA’s Mythic Entertainment to operate, support and develop Dark Age of Camelot on EA’s behalf. Electronic Arts will continue to provide billing and account services through its Origin™ portal. Broadsword and Electronic Arts will work closely together to ensure a bright future for Dark Age of Camelot.

Broadsword site, DAoC Producer’s Letter

There is also an Ultima Online Producer’s Letter, where Ultima Online has been substituted in for Dark Age of Camelot for that bit of text.

EA is… allegedly… handing over the running of these two now-pretty-damn-old and long neglected MMORPGs to what appears to be… theoretically… an external team that is… presumably… made up of people who care about these two games and want to keep them alive.

This is EA though, so it pays to pay close attention when they say things like they are making a SimCity game, or that they are creating a successor to Dungeon Keeper on mobile OSes, or that the sun will rise in the east come the morning, because the expectations that get set in your brain based on your past experience may be at odds with what is actually being planned in the dark recesses of their San Mateo keep.

Fun Created Here!

Fun Created Here!

And how would this be a boon to us… where “us” is a legion of long term MMORPG players who haven’t been really happy since who-knows-when and who have traded in our rose colored glasses for rose colored long term contacts so we can avoid the harsh light of reality at all times… right now?

Does this move validate or otherwise legitimize the often Kickstarter focused, niche oriented MMO projects that have been popping up since the genre fell from grace… which was when?  LOTRO?  WAR?AoC? SWTOR?

Does this move legitimize projects like Camelot Unchained, Project: Gorgon, Shroud of the Avatar, and Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen?  Is there hope for similar ventures?

Or is this just EA trying to squeeze the last bit of toothpaste from the tube in the most economically expedient way possible?

And is this even a good thing for Dark Age of Camelot and Ultima Online?  Will being out from under the yoke of BioWare subsidiary of EA, whose founders cashed out at their earliest possible convenience, lead to a revival of either game?  You still need to wear the mark of the beast, in the form of an Origin account, in order to play them.  Will that keep people away?

5 thoughts on “Broadsword and Niche MMOs

  1. Toldain

    Yeah, I was wondering how this made sense to them when I read this announcement yesterday. My only guess is that it’s preparation for selling it off. I would think they could just manage P&L without spinning it off, if simple cost measures were the goal. But game companies do lots of things that don’t make sense to me.


  2. Isey

    Favor is a strong word. Most of our old favorite games are still running. Doesn’t really matter what they do to them now, we left them.

    Fun to read about (like the ex-girlfriend who you are friends with on Facebook..) but not going back. I still log into EQ to say hi to friends, but I don’t actually *play*. I recovered my DAOC account – probably my favorite old school MMO and logged in for 3 days. Haven’t since.

    I will still love reading about the changes though =)


  3. kiantremayne

    I suspect that this is something the guys at what is now Broadsword put forward as an alternative to both games being shut down when EA’s suits noticed just how little money they were making. Compare and contrast to what NCSoft would have done with both games years ago, and all of a sudden EA doesn’t look quite so evil.

    Key question for me is whether Broadsword now owns the IP for those games and can use this as a springboard to launch successors, or if it’s acting as nothing but a hospice for two geriatric games. EA is using the Ultima IP elsewhere, which makes things a tad unclear.


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