Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) announced on Monday that it is shutting down four MMOGs this year. Two will be unplugged on March 31 while the other two will go offline on July 31. A SOE rep said that the company is making the announcement now in the "spirit of full transparency" so that players have time to adjust to the news.
"At Sony Online Entertainment, we are always evaluating our portfolio to ensure we're providing players with the best gameplay experiences," said senior director of global communications Michele Cagle. "At times, as part of this commitment, we have to make the difficult decision to sunset a game so we can refocus our resources on other areas in the best interest of our company and player community."
The first to go are Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures and Free Realms. Although the company didn't express why with the Star Wars MMOG, the company admitted that Free Realms "reached a stage in its life cycle where players are growing up and moving on to other games."
"When we first released the game in 2009, it was one of the very first free-to-play MMO for kids and teens, and we couldn't be prouder of everything we have accomplished together in the game. While today's news might be a disappointment, we're sincerely excited about what's to come for the game before we say goodbye, including player celebration in-game events and more!" writes Steve George Producer, Sony Online Entertainment.
Steve George, the producer of Clone Wars, said that it was a difficult decision to shut down the Star Wars-themed MMOG, but knew the day would come eventually.
Meanwhile, the next two going offline on July 31 are Vanguard: Saga of Heroes and Wizardry Online. For the former, the game is one of SOE's longest-running MMOGs to date. However, the decrease in population has made justifying the resources needed to support and update the game rather difficult.
"This is an older game and we're experiencing more and more technical challenges to continue running and updating it in a way you deserve. Simply put, these are issues that cannot be fixed in the long term and as a player, we would be doing you a disservice and going against our company commitment to provide the best gameplay experiences. So given this information, sunsetting the game later this year is the inevitable conclusion," writes a company rep.
SOE didn't give any reasons for Wizardry Online, but its January 30, 2013 release date here in the Americas should provide a clue as to why.
"The opportunity to bring a new hardcore fantasy MMORPG based on the Wizardry franchise to players across North America was a great honor, and we've had some fantastic battles and experiences together in the game," writes Todd Carson, Senior Producer, Sony Online Entertainment.
SOE President John Smedley recently conducted a Reddit AMA, which can be read here.