The advent of massively multiplayer online games would forever change the face of the gaming industry. The very concept of a persistent virtual world in which players directly interact with one another in real time blew minds and won hearts the world over, and has since blossomed into a billion dollar industry supported by millions of dedicated gamers. However, all MMO's are subject to a singular fatal flaw that cannot be escaped: they have a lifespan.
The equation is simple. Servers cost money, playerbases fluctuate as players lose interest or find new games, and eventually, they become too expensive for gaming studios to justify keeping online. To illustrate this point, observe a moment of silence and check out these ten MMORPGs that have bitten the dust. RIP.
Landmark was a bit of an experimental approach being taken towards developing the next installment of the EverQuest franchise. It was essentially a creative sandbox that would allow players to collaboratively create content that would be included in EverQuest Next.
However, EverQuest Next ended up being canceled, rendering Landmark completely purposeless. It was launched in June 2016, and after a mere seven months online, was taken down in its entirety during February of 2017.
Launched in March of 2003, Shadowbane had a serious appeal to hardcore MMO players due to its rich combat system and open PVP environment. Its game world was very much dictated by the players, as most of its contents, including cities and in-game political entities, were run entirely by them.
The studio that developed the game was acquired by Ubisoft, resulting in a chaotic shift in management. The game was "rebooted" in 2008 to take advantage of performance enhancements, but would announce its closure the following year. It finally shuttered its doors on July 1st, 2009, after an initial postponement.
8 Everquest Online Adventures
EverQuest Online Adventures, or EQOA for short, was one of the very first titles to successfully bring a truly conventional MMORPG experience to consoles. In this case, it was the PlayStation 2.
While the PVP experience was pretty weak and it did suffer from the occasional exploitable glitch, it was a remarkable success considering that online gaming was just then beginning to develop solid roots in the console market. Having launched in February of 2003, the game saw a surprising nine-year run before having the plug pulled at the end of March, 2012.
WildStar was an ambitious and unique mash-up of science fiction and fantasy that released in early June of 2014. With incredibly vibrant, cartoonish visuals and fast-paced, movement-heavy combat, it brought a lighthearted and deeply engrossing flavor of MMORPG that few others had managed to pull off.
It was initially subscription-based, with other payment methods attainable through the in-game economy. But it would go free to play within a year and its playerbase would continue to dwindle, resulting in server mergers. After a four year run, NCSoft would announce its closure for November of 2018.
6 Warhammer Online: Age Of Reckoning
Warhammer Online was published by EA in 2008, and as one would expect, it was incredibly focused on PVP and zone control between factions. Its PVP system was excellent, centering on a continuous territory war that would continue until one faction pushed into its rival's capital and sacked it for loot, restarting the whole cycle.
Its playerbase would reduce drastically within the first few months of its launch, plunging from a count of 800,000 to only 300,000 active players. Servers would trickle away via shutdowns and mergers until its cancellation in 2013, managing to persist for roughly five years.
5 The Matrix Online
More than just a spin-off from the main franchise, The Matrix Online received the Wachowskis' blessing as a canonical continuation of the universe. The game's story would unfold via live events and players would have the opportunity to impact it in direct and meaningful ways.
Despite its unique conceptual basis, deep player involvement, and real-time combat, its 2005 launch saw stiff competition within the MMORPG market and a lack of player interest. At the time of its 2009 closure, it would have fewer than five hundred active players.
4 Vanguard: Saga Of Heroes
Vanguard was an incredibly ambitious title spearheaded by EverQuest veteran Brad McQuaid, developed largely with the aim of providing a true spiritual successor to the aforementioned classic MMORPG sensation.
Despite some really innovative takes on crafting and its unique "diplomacy" system, Vanguard's 2007 launch was an utter disaster. Rife with bugs and severe performance issues, Sony Online Entertainment would be occupied with damage control for the majority of the game's slow, seven-year-long death rattle.
3 Asheron's Call
Asheron's Call released in 1999, competing with other "golden age" MMORPGs such as EverQuest and Ultima Online. Though it never reached the same level of notoriety that its lead competitors did, Asheron's Call had a lengthy and successful run.
Of particular note was the fact that Asheron's Call was a seamless, persistent world, and unlike other MMORPGs of the time, didn't utilize instances or singular zones. Players could cross the entirety of the playable world on foot, and never encounter a loading screen. It stayed live for a staggering eighteen years, going offline in early 2017.
2 Star Wars Galaxies
Star Wars Galaxies was truly galactic, with an incredible wealth of gameplay mechanics that were landmark achievements in the MMORPG genre. Players could truly be anything they wanted, from soldiers to pilots, artisans, shipwrights, and politicians. Its 2003 arrival on the scene was met with critical enthusiasm and an avid fan following.
All of this would change with the New Game Enhancements update, which altered, simplified, and deprecated practically every fundamental system in the game. Furious fans practically vacated the servers, though the game would persist for six more years before calling it quits in 2011.
1 RuneScape Classic
Sure, versions of RuneScape are still online and perfectly playable. But they aren't the RuneScape that made the game a total internet phenomenon. It was rebranded as RuneScape Classic after what was until then known as RuneScape 2 took up the main title as RuneScape. Yes, it's all just a wee bit confusing.
Classic would remain online until 2018, essentially reaching the ripe old age of seventeen before Jagex pulled the plug. The given reasoning amounted to compatibility issues between the dated engine and their increasingly modern tools, alongside a mountain of irreparable bugs and widespread cheating.