Game talkSims Online/EA-Land closing

 Posted by (Visited 6808 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: ,
Apr 292008
 

The EA-Land Blog has the news.

This is only a few months after the rebranding from TSO, so this is a fairly rapid turnaround from relaunch to outright closure. Looks like the servers will be shuttered on August 1st. PayPal cash-in is going away immediately.

It made it six years.

  35 Responses to “Sims Online/EA-Land closing”

  1. + Discussion: Profy.Com, TechCrunch, EA-Land Blog, Kotaku andRaph’s Website

  2. Considering that TSO was primarily a vehicle for leaving your spouse, it managed a better run than I would’ve expected.

  3. Second thought: Yes, well, if they had done The Sims Online right the first time it would have done better still.

    First thought: I repeatedly tried to sign up for EA-Land after open beta, and could not register or get customer care to answer the questions that I asked.

  4. I found myself afflicted with sympathy for the players that were being left behind. Then I read the comments on their post, with accusation after accusation of fraud, and the feeling went away. I really hope that when a virtual world I like goes away, I can be less of a jerk about it.

  5. I really hope that when a virtual world I like goes away, I can be less of a jerk about it.

    I recommend singing Anatevka from Fiddler on the Roof.

  6. Michael, you are either recommending everything or nothing to me for the rest of my life. I haven’t decided which yet.

  7. [...] seen on Lum and Raph; EA-Land/The Sims Online is closing down. Reading the comments section is like a pick-and-mix bag [...]

  8. I’m a big believer that somewhere deep in the MMO player’s psyche seeing their product of choice, and its live service maintainer and supporter as a going concern is the most important factor when it comes to long term retention of a player.

    So what effect does this have on EA’s future offerings? Is the disconnect between EA of old and EA Mythic enough to dull any but the most bitter? With the base that is left in TSO/EA Land are any of them actual MMO players that this would impact? (I exclude “virtual world players” because I don’t think that is a business EA will ever enter – at least not successfully)

  9. I’m really heart-broken about this : (

    In fact, I just don’t know how I’m going to go gently into this good night, and I’m going to “rage, rage against the dying of the light”. A part of me is being deliberately killed off, without compensation.

    I even feel guilty that I didn’t try harder to be present and help Luc and the other devs keep this reiteration going. I don’t know if the existing fan base could try to stage a coup and convince EA to keep this going — likely not.

    I was so excited about the re-launch and enthusiastically restarted all my dormant sims there, but then got frustrated when I found the server move borked up my main guy and lost my land and inventory, really crippling my immigrant’s train trip from the old servers.

    As I’m not a mudder, mooer, mmorpeger gamer type, and this is my first avatar online, in which I was heavily invested, I just feel appalled, frankly, that the game gods can just commit avatar murder so casually, and only offer US $15 in coupons to another game as a death benefit. I just find that shockingly callous, and I wish I had the time and energy to really fight for this or that others would.

    It’s so emblematic of the casual avatar murder which game-gods commit everywhere, daily, with their executions at dawn and their closure of games at a whim. Of course, with Richard Bartle’s socialist game-god plan, no one should ever get to stop them from committing these pixelated atrocities because *gasp* that would go against their rights to freedom of expression and publishing (which of course…we don’t have — bleh). It’s just this sort of situation he envisioned with his insistence on game god rights to close games, too.

    It’s so wrong.

    Some people are going to try to port their Sim lives into Second Life (as we did when TSO was dying the first time around in 2004). Of coures…it’s a transfer cost and a loss — no more job objects.

    One thing I think got the players really mad is that this beta test (essentially) with a promised re-launch held out the promise that people could monetarize their work online, selling their user-created items (they had just added that feature) and even converting their simoleons made on the game’s job objects. So people worked really hard in recent months (I worked a bit even myself) to try to get the stash together to cash out to real money. And then EA didn’t allow some (all?) of them to cash out to PayPal. I’m a little fuzzy on whether the beta test had actually promised that on the dotted line and they had moved out from beta to live on that but it was an implication that many obviously felt they could take to the bank. I wouldn’t be surprised if some lawsuit does grow out of this.

    I even wonder if EA was forced to close it faced with a really awful prospect, of the sort that would make Richard Bartle fall into an absolute faint: all these people working furiously with the internal game objects that generated purely game currency suddenly demanding real-life pay for their time and work. Add to that people who made objects of their own creation like textures or plants or something and sold them inworld in their little game stores, and wanted to cash out the proceeds — and you have a huge community demand for a cashout.

    Good!

    Game gods need to feel more community demands for cashouts like this!

  10. In fact, I just don’t know how I’m going to go gently into this good night, and I’m going to “rage, rage against the dying of the light”. A part of me is being deliberately killed off, without compensation.

    I meant it when I suggested singing Anatevka.

  11. I understand that companies go under or divisions are hemorrhaging cash and they have to shut down a world. I wish that when they did, they would open-source the jettisoned project and let somebody else take it up, along with the object database. Let somebody in the community have it and run it themselves.

    I never played this particular world and have no interest in it specifically, but I think releasing the assets to the world is a cool idea.

  12. Honestly Prok… any system that allows you to generate in-game currency via in-game *actions* that also allows you to cash out that in game currency is going to very rapidly become a money pit for the people who maintain it. I don’t understand how anyone could think that would remotely work. Being able to buy the currency would have to be the first step, not the last. You can’t port it in and have it work. Even if you do allow purchasing of currency, if the game lets you cash out directly, you’ll still have problems. It’s not a sustainable business model for players to be able to make money from constant repetative actions that do not increase the income of the devs. You’re not working for that in game currency in the sense that you’re an employee. You generate absolutely zero income for the company running the game as a result of your in game actions. And don’t go into the idea that players bring their friends inot the game driving up subs. That’s much too tenuous unless your cash out is so painfully difficult that the in game activities cannot amount to very much for a given month. If I can cash out for 10 dollars a month (or whatever the sub fee was), they’ve lost my sub fee. I’m now using server and dev resources for free. If I can cash out for 20, I’ve now eaten not only my sub fee, I’ve also eaten the sub fee of another player. At this point, it would probably be cheaper to ban me than it would be to sustain my business; I’m probably not getting two new players into the game every month, and that’s what I’d need to do for it to remain profitable, assuming those new players weren’t also making enough to offset fees. There’s a reason why Bartle would fall into a faint as a result of design element that would let people do what you suggested, and it’s not because he’s a socialistic game-god. It’s because it would very rapidly bankrupt the service provider.

    On the other hand, trade economies, and players selling things to other players that they’ve made or collected or whatever (though, if it’s not content they’ve personally created, there are other issues), works just fine, as no money has to enter the system via the devs themselves for it to function, so there isn’t a constant bleeding of money. I honestly don’t think anyone really has a problem with players being able to sell content that they’ve personally created, though granted, there are problems inherent in letting players generate content to begin with. When people complain about RMT, it’s usually in the context of players selling things gained in game that they didn’t spend the time and money coding, creating art for, designing systems around, and playtesting. Ignoring the fairness and social contract violating nature that sometimes comes up based on the type of world we’re talking about, there’s another very good reason for people finding fault with it.

    And it’s because no matter how emotionally attached to your avatars you get, no matter how much investment you’ve put into the worlds that they run around in on an emotional level… none of it is real, and you are not your avatar. It’s sad when a game that you’ve got a strong emotional investment in is shut down, but it’s not even remotely comparable to murder when they delete your characters. And they really owe you *nothing* when they do it; your emotional investment is *not* their concern, except in how they want your future business. They can’t take your memories away from you, they can’t take the friends you’ve developed away from you, but the data that drove those things was never yours. You spent no time in builidng the *data* even if you spent lots of time in building things around that data. And they can’t take those intangibles, so you’ve still got ‘possession’ of them, however you want to define that. But you’re asking them… rather, expecting them, to give you *their* property, and that’s just not a fair demand to make.

    Emotional attachment doesn’t confer property rights. Time spent building that emotional attachment doesn’t confer property rights. If I go to a park and have a lot of fun playing on a slide there, and I go back every day and have fun playing on the slide and I meet some other people who like playing on the slide too, and I keep coming back day after day, such that I develop a strong bond with the park, the people I meet there, and the slide itself, I’ll still own none of it. And when the wrecking crews come to pave over the park into a strip mall I have every right to get upset, but I have absolutely no right to expect that my time spent there some how makes it underhanded of them to tear everything down. It wasn’t my space, it wasn’t my slide, if they want to destroy it, they can do so with no problem, because it’s *theirs*, no matter how attached to it I became because they let me play around with it. This is no different. If we’re going to hold on to the concept of property rights as being really important, it has to be universal. That means people can make things semi-public and then change, alter, revamp, or even destroy them as they wish. So I really can’t understand how the desire to maintain control over in game assets is driven by anything other than heavily capitalistic motives.

  13. Spaz – In some cases, that does happen but it is rare (the one that springs to mind for me was Ryzom).

    In this case, though, EA would run into issues with diluting their trademark… The Sims is still a very real going concern for them, even if the online version is not.

    The very real legal concerns about allowing others to take over TSO means that they’d never even consider this. In fact, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to find that even if someone were to come up with a fan-run server that they’d still hit them with a cease-and-desist – and rightfully so.

    As an aside to Raph – Live preview appears to be broken, haven’t seen it during my recent comments.

  14. I understand that companies go under or divisions are hemorrhaging cash and they have to shut down a world. I wish that when they did, they would open-source the jettisoned project and let somebody else take it up, along with the object database. Let somebody in the community have it and run it themselves.

    Either that, or at least offer it for sale. They could make some final bucks off their work, and hand it off to someone who’s serious about it.

  15. As an aside to Raph – Live preview appears to be broken, haven’t seen it during my recent comments.

    Fixed!

  16. re: ‘cashing out’ currency

    Agreed that any time the game lets you ‘magically produce’ game currency, they cannot allow you to directly cash it out — you are not providing anything to them, so why should they pay you for it? In a game with nothing producing currency except for direct cash trade ins FOR the currency, on the other hand, allowing players to reverse the exchange (with a margin going to the ‘bank’, of course) makes sense. Ten million Buckazoids go into the game, nine million Buckazoids come out, the winners are happy, the losers were hopefully entertained along the way, and the bank buys a new yacht.

    — conceivably a game could use two separate currencies, one of either sort. I don’t need to get into that just now, though.

    The other possibility for getting cash from the game company that might make sense in this context is for services rendered — e.g., if you were selling the things you made to the game company; the artwork, the custom coding, et cetera. This couldn’t be automated — someone would need to oversee and decide on a price, there would have to be licensing agreements., et cetera. I could see this working out in a number of games — although I think the logistics of it would severely limit its usability.

  17. Trevel, yeah, that would indeed cause problems with logistics. It’s much easier to go the Second Life route of letting player created assets be sold directly by the players to other players. That sidesteps the need to worry about stuff like that pretty much completely, but it obviously doesn’t work with certain world types. The more you’re going in to simulation based worlds the harder it’ll be to implement players paying for content from other players (doesn’t matter if they’re “gamey” or “worldy”, the more they aim for internal consistency via hard coded achievement ladders or interdependent game systems the more problems you get), so highly mutatable sandbox worlds or heavily social worlds benefit the most from those sorts of mechanics.

  18. You’re certainly right, although most games DO pay various people to make content — they hire them. ;)

    And Bioware/NWN has, I think, somewhat implemented a more direct approach to that, paying certain people to make “Premium Content”, which they then offered for sale. I think one was hired on full time, as well, but I certainly didn’t take notes on it.

    Ironically, of course, the closure of TSO is a triumph of capitalism and a free market — they have looked at the supply to their demand and found it wanting, and the cost greater still. Forcing them to continue because the people demand it but will not pay for it strikes me as more communistic than anything — I highly reject the idea that someone else’s wants or needs constitute any obligation on my part. (Which is not to say that I will not freely give — I do — I just don’t see that I should be *required* to, particularly for something as trivial as entertainment.)

    It would be interesting, though, to see them go the route that other content providers have gone: stating up front that they need $X a year in order to justify it, and then making an all-or-nothing offer: let the community give the amount indicated, and the game continues; fail and they take no money, but the game shuts down.

  19. Eolirin, I’ve heard this argumentation a million times on Second Life, and it is no more persuasive for being repeated a million times. You hammer at it as if this is “the truth,” but it is merely your take on the worlds. I simply don’t agree, and won’t ever agree.

    My avatar is real, and is valid, and is private property and shouldn’t be encroached on. I don’t need to be told he is not real like some sort of psychiatric therapy, or harangued at to get a life, I need to be respected as having a presence part online that is propertied and needs rights and respect. Emotional attachment isn’t some automatic justification for inferring property rights, but the more people invest emotionally and monetarily, the more game gods will have to cave.

    Oh, sure, pure inworld job objects generating simoleons can’t justifiably be paid out because the game gods would go broke on such socialism. But the EA-land was creating a formula combining some valuation of job objects, which I think was in a way like the traffic/dwell program the Lindens had at the start of their world as an incentive (it basically means if you create and sustain events and traffic and retention, the game gods give back your subscription price and possibly even a bit more). It makes sense that those who labour in the vineyards of games, helping newbies, inventing games-within-games, keeping others occupied, creating interesting activity/content and thereby enhancing game god revenue should enjoy some revenue-sharing. Hey, these game gods can more than afford it.

    And EA-land also had UGC which was monetarized as well. Only paying accounts could cash out their earnings.

    The desire to maintain absolutist control over ingame assets isn’t really capitalism. It’s the sort of “state capitalism” you get under communism.

    Really, it’s amazing how much rigid orthodox thinking about this there is around.

    People don’t seem to realize that one of the reasons SL has grown in numbers is that they gave people monetary incentives in addition to letting them make money on their own with their own creation.

  20. As far as cashing out goes, casinos essentially use that model. Take slot machines. A player pays a fee over time to play and gets some amount of cash back. The slot machine “fee” is usually smaller and charged more often, but it’s similar to subscription in that it is an ongoing cost that’s tied to the right to play. Some players even come out ahead. The key is that on average, the house takes in more than they pay out.

    An online game could do this too. As long as players pay you more, on average, than they “earn” in the game there’s no fundamental problem here. Of course you would have to increase the fees to cover the payouts in order to keep the same revenue that a traditional game has. This probably means microtransactions.

    The big issue here is balancing things to ensure that the house has an advantage. This is easy with slots and simple games of chance, but a complex game would be a whole different matter. Bugs could be a big issue too. Image a dupe exploit, or even just a minor bug that affects game balance. Also, you don’t want to seem too much like a casino; there are a lot of laws governing gambling.

  21. This is the biggest reason that I will never personally make a virtual world.

    Lots of people have these brilliant ideas for a new virtual world, and some are fortunate enough to actually create them. But the very nature of virtual worlds make them bittersweet enterprises… if they aren’t successful, and don’t catch on with a lot of people, they just die off. If they ARE successful, they have a good run, until they start to become less popular. The company that made the virtual world will have to eventually make the hard, but financially sound, decision to pull the plug on the world, but because of the longer life of the product, you now have thousands of hardcore fans who have been there for so long that they have a personal attachment and investment to the world, and so they feel betrayed, like part of themselves died.

    It’s like when your favorite TV show finally hits its end, except you can’t even replay it on DVD.

  22. Prok, in SL you may be right about “owning” the avatar, especially if you build all the assets yourself. But if you did that you still own the assets and if they kill the servers you can still use them where ever you want. “Game gods” only have to cave if they want your continued business, which, obviously, EA doesn’t. You don’t get to have entitlement, you are at their mercy, they have no *need* to pay attention to you, and you have no need to continue to do business with them. This is simple market capitalism. But no matter how you look at it, it’s still not *real* in the sense that it physically exists and it can’t be “killed” because of it. However, you’ll note that I’m not telling you to get a life, and never did. And I’m not saying you have no right to be upset, in fact I pointed out several times that you had every right to be upset, and it’s because your *feelings* toward it are real, even if the content, and the data isn’t. Losing something we’re attached to hurts and I get that, but your post showed a certain sense of entitlement to things that you really have no right to. So it hardly *killed* anything about you, unless you want to tell me that your personality has been shattered by this event and you are no longer capable of expressing yourself in the same ways (not that you can’t express yourself in the same context, but in the same ways; there is a difference). If I do plays in a local theater and the theater gets torn down, it sucks, and I’ve lost an outlet for expression, but I haven’t lost my ability to express, and I certainly couldn’t stop them if even if I wanted to, because it wasn’t my theater. Murder is a strong word; hyperbole does *not* help you get your point across.

    And revenue sharing is fine under the circumstances you just laid out mind (you’re generating unique content), but they cannot use the simeolean as the basis for it, because the simeolean can be generated out of nothing with no metric for useful content that generates increased revenue. It’d be a failing business model if they attempted it. This means that anyone who spent time building up a stock of simeoleans was acting under the assumption that they’d do something *really* stupid. And that’s what I was responding to in your first post. There are ways to make cashing out currency work, and Trevel outlined them all, but that’s not what you had said, and what you said was all I had to go on.

    But sorry, it’s not at all state capitalism to control ingame assets, because the game’s not remotely comparable to a state, it’s a service. You are walking into a private club that hands out memberships based on whether you pay a membership fee, you don’t get any entitlement to anything that the club provides just because you’re a member, you simply get to use the space for as long as the club decides to stay open. this isn’t communistic, it’s not socialistic, it’s simply them not ceding authority to you using *their* space and *their* toys. They can choose to do so if they wish of course, and they can let you put your own things inside the space without forcing you to cede control of them, but if they do so, they’re being magnanimous. These are not separate little worlds divorced from reality; they’re spaces within reality, interdependent with it, and they cannot be treated as if what goes on in them exists in a vacuum. That’s why Linden had to ban casinos, since they ran afoul of real world anti-gambling laws, and that’s why something like WoW doesn’t have to cede control of it’s assets, because they’re providing them and they own them, and they can do whatever they want with them, because it’s a service and a club, and Blizzard as the club owners get to make the rules. And if you don’t like it, you don’t give them money, and the cogs of capitalism keep turning. And it really doesn’t matter if you don’t view them as being services or private spaces like clubs, because that’s how the law will look at them, and really, in the end, that’s all that matters. It’d actually be pretty bad if it didn’t, because then service owners would have no way of banning people even when they’re being extremely disruptive.

    And SL is *not* comparable to TSO! Not in the slightest. Players are making their own assets in SL, and Linden allows you to maintain rights over those assets, as they should (though, note, they don’t strictly *have* to). You are putting your own direct creative energies into building new art and new code in SL, so you very much own that. TSO basically gave you a bunch of blocks and lets you rearrange them. There was no stipulation that you got to own the blocks, no matter how they’ve been re-arranged, so you have no inherent right to them. If they take them away, they take them away, and it can suck and you can be hurt by it, but it is within their right to do so. If it sucks and hurts enough, then they’re not treating you, their customer, very well, and you don’t do business with them anymore, and that’s that. Stupid on their part most likely, but stupidity isn’t uncommon, nor is intelligence something we have any right to expect (sadly).

  23. @Alexis, running afoul of online gambling laws isn’t the only problem. When you add the ability to cash out in an online game, you shift the focus away from gameplay and into commerce. People go to casinos in order to make money, and just enough of them do that people with poor judgement of probability keep trying. If you set a game up using principles like that, there is now a shift in the game dynamic; people are now looking to make money rather than to eat content. And because most games games are meant for long term play the fact that you are constantly coming out at a loss is much more noticable. You don’t typically sit in a casino for an entire month trying to turn a profit. A game that was based on that would very quickly highlight that you could spend a month playing and net almost nothing, and your population would likely fall off very quickly. Probability tends to balance out over the long term, so things that work on that sort of “win some but lose overall” scheme do not hold up well if there’s a long term pattern that can be looked at. It’s easier to see that you’re never going to really make much money off of it if you can look at a long term pattern than if you’re looking at short term gains and losses. With a cash out, making money becomes too much of the point, and you end up overshadowing too much of your other gameplay mechanics. You could maybe make it work, but you really would end up looking like a casino and not like an virtual world.

    It’s a lot more ideal to limit the amount of direct payout by the “house” in this case and there’s plenty of ways to do that, as Trevel pointed out.

  24. “My avatar is real, and is valid, and is private property and shouldn’t be encroached on.”

    …the real, valid, private property of Electronic Arts, unfortunately, per the EULA you signed before you began play. I’m not sure if Second Life has anything similar in its licensing agreements, and I know that EULAs are often of dubious legal worth, but your attempt to encroach on their private property by claiming ownership is as valid as claiming that you own the teacup ride at Disneyland because you go on it ALL THE TIME. ;)

    — the custom artwork that YOU created for the game, however, certainly belongs to you, unless you sign a contract with them giving them ownership for money.

    What we’re seeing, I think, is the result of standard management crossfire — one team is working very hard on making the program economically viable, adding new features, drawing people in — and the other, higher up, steps in and aborts the whole project. This sort of thing is why companies often appear to be working at cross purposes to themselves: they ARE. ;)

    It’s a shame that it’s being shut down, though, if just inasmuch as it’s an interesting experiment into different ways of monetizing player contributions — I think it required a longer term investment than the EA management was willing to pay; these sorts of things don’t pay off right away.

    Are there any other virtual worlds that allow one to ‘cash out’?

  25. Trevel,

    Project Entropia. They even give you a credit card, or some such.

  26. Cool, I’ll take a look at it. They’re generally not the sort of thing I enjoy playing, but they’re interesting on other levels.

  27. I wonder if there’s any legal defence whatsoever for the players of virtual worlds owning their characters without the prior consent of the management?

    I hope not, but I do wonder.

  28. Eolin, as I said, I’ve heard these arguments a million times, and they are no more persuasive or instructive for being repeated the millionth and one time.

    Everyone knows that computer game companies are “private clubs” and fit under the law as “private club”. Except…they aren’t. They increasingly fit more under the rubric of “Internet Service Provider” and “common carrier,” and increasingly become a giant public space that everybody is in before, during, and after work and private life, increasingly taking as much more time as work or private life or even intersecting with first lives.

    So when entities increasingly get this much space and power and control over huge swathes of the public and their time, hey, law is going to change *even if your mind doesn’t*. Aren’t you tekkies always telling us to adapt, change, evolve, embrace the inevitable? Did you think those principles only apply to us, and not you?!

    Increasingly, influential public figures, politicians, media, government, regulators are going to say, hey, this isn’t like the private club law that applied to the Boy Scouts to enable them to keep out gays (and many will say *that* should change); this is more like the private mall law where a mall can’t crack down on a political t-shirt wearer because it’s a public commons. And so on. Try to realize that you can’t just issue a diktat on this anymore.

    When the public has THIS much time, treasure, and talent locked up into a giant public space like this, then government/regulators/media/schools, etc. begin to cry foul when they behave in beastly, unjust matters and steal or confiscate or callously lose or destroy what people have come to regard as their property, and which in some cases, will already increasingly be viewed *as* their property, created by them, re-created or aggregated or stored by them in permissions transfers in these systems.

    I’m sure someone who is a professional historian can think about persons though history who were once considered someone’s property (nobles, landowners, women, children, slaves) but then became propertied, emancipated, made equal. Why not the avatar?

    You can cry and whine and howl and scream all you want about how unfair this sounds, how unscientific, how impossible, how ridiculous, but more and more it will be taken seriously, and you’ll have to adjust. It’s not going to be the calamity for game-god state capitalism you imagine, either.

    And yes, a game or VW company emulating a government function, in a capacity where more and more, it will have powers and money and people under its sway larger than many small countries, will in fact face demands to behave under the rule of law like a government, too, just as trans-national corporations increasingly came under this pressure as least to put in some policies to behave like good corporate citizens.

    I find that the game and VW companies themselves are evolving faster along these lines that the geek coders in and around them are evolving on this issue.

  29. …the real, valid, private property of Electronic Arts, unfortunately, per >the EULA you signed before you began play. I’m not sure if Second Life has anything similar in its licensing agreements, and I know that EULAs are often of dubious legal worth, but your attempt to encroach on their private property by claiming ownership is as valid as claiming that you own the teacup ride at Disneyland because you go on it ALL THE TIME. ;)

    Shrugs. EULAs and TOSs are unconscionable, oppressive, and take away people’s rights. Eventually, they will be changed to accommodate more respect for users because they won’t be viewing games as merely a tea-cup ride you go on once a year, they will understand that the daily usage of a space with long hours and commitment represents something far more.

    The idea that this “private property” depending on billions of hours and dollars invested in it by the public can go on being as abusive and confiscatory as it has been is one of those ideas that you will watch crumble with increasing acceleration as the years go by. So it’s better to move to thinking how on earth you can defend something that is abusive to the public and confiscates user-generated wealth and property on such a large scale, and work at thinking how to create the balanced systems that will respect both game publishers’ rights and users’ rights.

  30. So when entities increasingly get this much space and power and control over huge swathes of the public and their time, hey, law is going to change

    Since the law HASN’T changed yet, you admit, at least for now, that you’re wrong and he\she’s right in the current context.

    You didn’t need two posts worth of text to state that.

    Try brevity sometime.

  31. The company that made the virtual world will have to eventually make the hard, but financially sound, decision to pull the plug on the world

    I just want to say that ‘Manda and I decided when we made Furcadia in 1996, that we would keep it running as long as we live, and hopefully it would keep going after that too. This was never discussed nor even mentioned out loud, we both just knew that we felt that way without having to bother saying it to each other. From a business standpoint, I’ve always kept the operating costs ridiculously low, and I’ve watched the costs of adequate server power and bandwidth to run this type of a game plummet over the 11 years we’ve been running. As perhaps the most cost-efficient MMORPG in the industry, it’s hard to imagine a time when it couldn’t bring in the minimal amount of revenue needed to pay for just server leasing and bandwidth. Someone making a little too much money for their own good could run a comparable server as an expensive hobby, and in not too many years, I imagine someone with a more modest income could do the same. Just wanted to say that the idea that “they all must shut down eventually” isn’t the case for all types of online games – just the ones with high operating costs. (I still need to contact the Guiness World Record Book people – they apparently have Ultima Online listed as the longest continuously running MMORPG. No disrespect intended, Raph, but I want to get credit for that!)

    Just to make sure, when I read your comment, I went and looked up Gemstone to make sure they’re still running, before posting here that they are. Yup, they are. If you count Gemstone II, they date back to the 1980s, though they’re currently up to Gemstone IV. Last I heard, the latest incarnation of Habitat was still around, too. Though now going by VZones/Dreamscape/newHorizone. Legends of Kesmai, the graphic remake of Island of Kesmai, was apparently shut down after being purchased by Electronic Arts (hmmm, a pattern emerges?). Apparently there’s some fan-run server emulators around for those that miss it. And I know that when Castle Infinity shut down (still to my mind one of the most visionary, ahead of its time online game designs), one of the players quite literally rescued the server machine from a dumpster behind Starwave, and got permission to put it online and figure out how to get it running again. They’ve since worked out how to add new levels and content, and the Castle is still running to this day! I need to get back on there sometime for nostalgia purposes.

    Ultimately, I think in the long run the only obstacle to any online community running forever will be that some of them don’t achieve “critical mass” of number of people and/or level of interestingness, and eventually fade on their own. But for those that get there… I suspect some of the Usenet newsgroups I participated in back in 1980 are still thriving, though with much turnover of people in the intervening years. Ventures like Areae will hopefully allow a lot of people to start up communities/games/etc. with confidence that the infrastructure can be counted on to stay along as long as the community has some life to it, and if it’s lucky enough to become one of the few “eternal” communities, so be it. Or to “only” last 50 years or something, which isn’t bad either. Of course we have seen a lot of communities migrate to “the next, bigger, better, flashier, cooler thing”. This will continue to happen as long as technology is advancing so rapidly, and will still happen somewhat when/if the pace of technological advancement slows down. Even without new technology, we see in other media, old works can always be outdone by advances in writing, in style, and the invention of new genres. In our medium, advances in game design, form of interaction, and user interface can be significant even without any change in CPU or graphics rendering or bandwidth. When someone invents a better mousetrap, older communities may start to slowly shrink, even if they might not ever totally dissappear. I don’t think this is a bad thing, the alternative is stagnation. Personally, I want a steady stream of new movies trying to outdo all the past ones (though not always succeeding) or at least offer something new. Games had certainly better be doing that too! Doesn’t stop me from occasionally going back to a few time-worn old favorites, which I imagine I always will do as well. (Someday I still need an Asteroids arcade cabinet!)

  32. (I still need to contact the Guiness World Record Book people – they apparently have Ultima Online listed as the longest continuously running MMORPG. No disrespect intended, Raph, but I want to get credit for that!)

    My son actually brought that book home last week. It is riddled with errors! It also claims that UO is largest in terms of shards or something, which is plain wrong on the face of it.

  33. It would be worthwhile for a company planning to abandon a MMORPG to consider doing just that: abandoning it. They wouldn’t need to release the source code: I can see a potential problem with doing that (IP). But if they pulled their staff off and officially announced it, what would happen?

  34. I am a beta tester for the sims online i have been paying and playing for almost six years for 4 accounts and 1 year on a new account.. I know its really hard for people to understand what happen you have to have been there to understand the hurt, the rage, that some are feeling about EA’s closing of our game. Six years we have worked, played, and helped each other through all the bugs the botters exploits, the fact that ea left us out in the cold years ago.. When luc and his team come in it was a sigh of relief.. no updates had been made in years none what so ever. No dev team nothing new.. most of us thought our game was gone.. but that my friends turned out to be bitter sweet. We love our game truely its a part of our everyday lives we sit and relax and play our games. The new team comming in was a god sent… none of us I mean none of us were ready for that horrific post on the blogs.. Our dev team worked harder then any dev team that I had seen in years in game. There were promises of new and upcomming updates, they emailed old players said come back well give u amnesty.. they changed the date on that pushed it back and then the day before boom we got hit with… EA closing Ea land. They took our game name they took the name of our sims and changed them to so called avatars, they wanted to change the name of our money.. our game got lost some where it was no longer the sims online we know and love and none of us were ready for that but went along for the ride.

    Our homes our lives in game were changed forever. Six years of waiting it all out to hopefully see changes all lost.. People were heart broken alot come back just to see the new changes there was alot of hope in alot of people.. we used their atms it was to better the game when they made the price of living in there so bad that we could not live any more. We supported them through bad bugs horrible game play lag.. to be told screw you were closing with out any warning at all.. some sims used atms and put as much as 200 plus dollars in at one time…

    We are heart broken ea has never done us right their advertizing for our game has been almost nill.. their customer support is what killed the game to begin with… errors would happen people would loose their things to get the run around when reported to ea nothin has ever been givin back to the players that they worked so hard for.

    They took all our devs away bam no warning.. 3 weeks before with no word all the updates stopped.. (and there were plenty scheduled they kept us advised of what they were working on and when it possibly be implimented)
    Closed us down the day before we were to get all our gifts back with amnesty. Told us we would no longer be charged after that date.. that we would all have free play till aug 1, 2008.. and free club pogo subscriptions.

    We were outraged to say the least.. our hard earned real money waisted in atms. Promises not kept.. Months of next to no game play because of updates bugs and mishaps and us still stickin in was all for nothin. They said that our game play would continue as always… well it hasnt.. they have decided to do refunds on all the atm charges and our subscription fees for a month… which the atm charges no one has seen yet to my knowlege and that was posted I’d say at least a week ago. Players are still being billed by ea even after they said they no longer would. They promised us stable game play till the end and most of our custom content has dissapeared. You cant get on a lot because the game locks you up. The lag that was fixed is back in droves. When they reimbersed us our game play (we had to call to get it) they changed our accounts to free play in which you cant hardly do anything in the game not like a premium player. Yet another call to get that fixed… none of us have been treated right or fairly for along time its not just since the new dev team come in to update the game.. people need to understand just how long ea has owned the sims online.. and the horrible customer support we got. To understand just how much we have been through, you had to have been there. And all for the love of the game we staid we enoured and in the end we have lost… There is a rally to save our game even after all we have been through… Why you say after all this??? Plain and simple we love our game… how many games do u know would their players go through all of this and still want their game???? We want our game to be sold to a company that cares about their player and will manage the game right.. Things could have been done and should have been done to make the game successful and plain and simple they just werent and we the players are the one that paid the ultimate price for it with our hearts.

  35. I totally agree with you Connie. Everything she has said is true. You could not possibly know how involved people became in this game if you have never played it. I am so terribly heart broken over all of this you could never understand. We are not kids playing this game, we are from all age groups and from all walks of life from all over the world. Please don’t critisize us until you have walked a mile (almost 6 years)in our shoes.

  36. I think gamers should stick together no matter what game they enjoy, I can’t believe how negative some of you are and senseless to feelings. Thats not what gaming is about.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.