Death of a Service: When "Your" Games Shut Down

Players shape the gaming world, affecting both game shutdowns and the rise of new ones

Death of a Service: When "Your" Games Shut Down
Source: Sigmund / Unsplash.

Saying a game is “dead” ranks among the harshest insult one can hurl in the gaming space. This comment is frequently seen under various posts announcing new seasons or content for numerous live service games, spanning all genres. What’s interesting is that the very people making this claim often have post notifications enabled for the same account. If the game were truly as “dead” as they claim, why would they eagerly seek new information on it?

At times, these folks are indeed correct.

Live service games, especially those that follow the battle royale trend, rely heavily on their player base for success. Some of these games have experienced a decline in their player numbers and/or faced legitimate concerns raised by players. As a result, server closures become inevitable. Regrettably, I witnessed this unfortunate outcome happen to three games that I was genuinely enjoying just this year.

Source: Velan Studios.

KnockOut City Got Knocked Out

I hope this will be the only pun I use for a section title. Knockout City initially followed a free-to-play model, which ended after reaching a specific rank, at which point players were required to pay $20 to continue ranking up. Personally, I had no qualms about paying this amount because I enjoyed the game immensely and wanted to keep playing.

The game was released in May 2021 and moved to a completely free-to-play model in June 2022. As one of the early adopters or “founders” as some games call it, I received a special pack called the Loyalty Royalty bundle, which included multiple free items that I could use in the game during this transition. They adorned these exclusive items with gold. I saw this gesture as a thoughtful “thank you” gift, and appreciated the sentiment behind these outfits, gold versions of the game's first four outfits.

Over time, the wait in the queue for a new game to populate grew progressively longer and I would often find myself matched with bots instead of real players. As this situation continued for several months, the game’s Twitter account eventually broke the news of the game’s shutdown, scheduled for June 6, 2023.

Source: Velan Studios.

Although news of the impending end saddened me, I found solace in anticipating the upcoming content as a farewell gesture to the players. Like many other games, they sold bundles, but the unique aspect was the ability to purchase these bundles Ă  la carte using in-game currency. In-game currency was straightforward and easy to earn thanks to contracts, the battle pass, and more. An intriguing feature was the option to use in-game currency to auto-complete contracts and receive a quadruple return on investment. However, it became clear from my perspective that these bundles were not selling well, resulting in continual financial losses for the game.

There were just fewer players. Although the developers skillfully introduced new modes and components to the game, as is common in many games, some of these additions felt like recycled versions of previous content. Personally, I didn’t mind this aspect, but many others did, leading them to turn away in droves.

Even though fewer players participated, the game ended well and always kept the players' interests in mind. Presently, PC players can still enjoy the game with active offline servers, but for console players like myself, all that remains is a heartfelt thank-you message.

Source: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

MultiVersus Maxed Out

Alliteration is not a pun, just to clarify! MultiVersus, a free-to-play game, sparked my excitement when it was first announced. Seeing all the IP involved and playing a “Smash Clone” with unique aspects and graphics had my attention. One feature I really enjoyed was the availability of multiple characters that had yet to be officially unlocked, accessible only through a rotation system, which encouraged players to unlock or purchase them.

However, as time went on, I noticed a recurring pattern in online matches, where certain characters seemed to dominate the gameplay. This continued even with the addition of new characters, and it eventually pushed me from the game. Some moves were overpowered and excessively spammed, a common occurrence in fighting games, but it became increasingly annoying, nonetheless.

The free battle pass functioned like a free variant, requiring a slow and unrewarding content grind, which made it seem hardly worthwhile. As a result, I gradually lost interest in the game, eventually giving up on my regular checks for updates on Twitter, and ultimately deleting it from my system. Recently, I stumbled upon it again and discovered that its servers had closed in June 2023. Though the news came as a surprise to me, I couldn’t help but feel it was expected, considering the significant amount of discourse surrounding the game. Many players seemed to have lost interest or grown frustrated with it for various reasons.

I will say, I found great enjoyment in the stage music of the game, particularly the impressive remixes of familiar themes. At first, I had plenty of positive things to say about the game and even wrote about it here. But as we all know, opinions can change over time.

On a positive note, the game is set to make a comeback in 2024. Its previous release was an extended “open beta”, and though Sony could have shut it down, the game will get another shot as a true full release.

Source: Iron Galaxy.

Rumbleverse Got Smacked Down

Rumbleverse brought something brand new to the battle royale genre. While it maintained the core concept of many players and a shrinking circle, it ventured into uncharted territory by featuring all wrestler characters. As an avid WWE viewer who grew up immersed in wrestling, the initial reveals of the game genuinely intrigued me. Although the cartoony concept didn’t entirely capture my interest, I respected their decision not to create mere legal copies of the wrestlers I already knew.

I relished the over-the-top versions of wrestling moves I had witnessed while watching TV wrestling, and I couldn’t help but audibly react to them, just as I do when watching the real thing. But this distinctive style relies on engagements with close and personal interactions. As a result, I felt gameplay became sluggish during the lulls between encountering other players.

Out of all the games on this list, this one was the one I played the least. Shortly after its release in August 2022, I found myself waiting minutes just to find a match, which quickly killed my enthusiasm. Although I managed to get into a few matches, my interest faded, and I didn’t feel compelled to unlock anything. I decided to delete it from my system, and later, I learned its servers had closed in February 2023.

While I couldn’t be overly disappointed since I wasn’t actively playing, I appreciate the developers’ efforts in bringing something entirely new to an already saturated gaming landscape.

Final Thoughts

Experiencing shutdowns of games you enjoy is not a great feeling. But a part of me can’t help but remain optimistic — something else will come along. As someone with a curiosity for what’s new under the sun with games, I always give new titles a chance. When a game is free, there’s a particular understanding that comes with it. Its future can take both positive and negative turns, depending on how the developers respond to and treat their player base. Ultimately, the fate of the game rests in the hands of those who craft and nurture it.

Every game I mentioned was played with friends. I encouraged them to try these games out, as I understand the significant impact of growing the player base through word-of-mouth. While this isn’t a new concept, it holds immense importance, particularly for games of this nature. As the player count increases, the potential for success grows. However, it’s crucial for developers to be prepared for the surge in players; otherwise, connectivity issues may expand, preventing people from enjoying the game because of overwhelming demand.

The games listed here were not the first to shut down and they won’t be the last. It falls upon us, the players, to support the games we genuinely enjoy and make our enjoyment known. While it’s unlikely that another free-to-play battle royale game will achieve the same level of success as a certain well-known one we ALL are familiar with, we’ll never truly know unless we give these new games a fair chance.


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