Only four months since its release the makers of the mmo All Points Bulletin (APB) has filed for bankruptcy and been forced to close its servers. It leaves a train wreck in its wake of unemployed developers and customers that bought their game and a subscription with nothing more than a dvd case and a coffee coaster. The few followers it had have been told the servers will shut down sometime within the next 24hours (yesterday) and that they can “enjoy the party” by logging in, while they are still up.

It’s always sad when an mmo has to shut down but shutting down so soon after release is particularly sad because it let’s it’s customers down and represents just how poor a situation the company was in when it released. I  did sign up to test the game but was not invited, having read some reviews on the release I decided it wasn’t the game for me based on the lack of content so I won’t make judgements on what the game was like to play but it is plain to see from its lack of support that it’s developer Real Time Worlds was not ready to launch their game and simply had to because they were desperate for money.

While buying an mmo really doesn’t guarantee you a long term game it is generally expected that there will be a server to log your game into if you want to subscribe and play it. The free month included is essentially the only requirement an mmo needs to sell you their client because that technically allows them to charge you for the game and you have “played it” by the time they take the servers down. It says as much in the EULA we all accept but rarely read through.

I am more saddened however by the death of an mmo that isn’t “just another fantasy game” there are so many fantasy mmo’s in development currently and available to play purely because it’s the biggest proven genre within the mmo industry that every time an mmo that attempts to diversify into another setting other than high fantasy dies I feel frustrated that the message investors and developers will see is not that APB failed because it didn’t add enough content into the game but that it failed because it wasn’t a fantasy mmo. So many times before this has happened with Auto Assault, Matrix OnlineTabula Rasa & Earth & Beyond coming to mind but the real reasons these games lack popularity is not so much the setting but rather the content included, they lack what keeps players interested it’s not that they lack elves and dragons but I can’t help worrying that’s all investors will notice.

It makes me worry about the future of other none high fantasy mmo’s, common sense says games in development like  Star Wars: The Old Republic have a big enough fan base before the game launches to sustain it indefinitely regardless of how good the content is but is that enough? I’m sure fans of the Matrix Online or the original incarnation of Star Wars Galaxies would tell you their fan base was big enough too.  What we need isn’t a mass influx of bad Sci-Fi,  Crime, Post Apocalyptic, Car Racing games what we need are a select few quality made games that stick it out long enough to prove you don’t have to make another fantasy mmo to have any staying power. Games like EvE, Champions Online, Star Trek Online and Fallen Earth are surviving but we need more than that, we need a none fantasy game to truly blow peoples  socks off and then maybe we’ll finally get over the  saturation of fantasy mmos.

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