Tobold has an interesting post up about the eventual decline of all MMO games. His argument is that with time players grow bored of the game, and as the game ages, the players depart for greener pastures. I touched on that idea a few days ago when I asked why game developers don't upgrade their games.
However, I'm not going to post about that. I'm on a different track here. Tobold made the following comment:
EA certainly regrets earlier decisions to have canceled UO2 twice, because now the Ultima brand is dying.
I think Tobold is correct here. There would have to be at least some amount of regret in the EA camp about the cancellation of the sequel to Ultima Online simply because that game is now fading into obscurity.
I find it quite ironic really. The reason given for the cancellation of Ultima Online 2 was that EA believed UO2 would hurt UO by dividing its subscriber base. Instead, by not having a successor to Ultima Online, subscribers ended up drifting off to other companies products. Business rule numero uno -- When you manage to get a customer, do everything you can to keep him.
So. Is it game over for Ultima Online?
Not yet. Ultima Online is still operating. It still has subscribers, a loyal bunch who won't go quietly into that virtual night. But Ultima Online's days are numbered. Eventually EA will consider the cost of running the game outweighs the benefits of keeping it going, and will switch off the servers. Then Ultima Online will exist only in our memories and on the countless unofficial servers running it.
The only hope of keeping the Ultima Online legend alive is for EA to, as soon as possible, revive the development of Ultima Online 2.
It's important that a new version of UO isn't WoWified. It also shouldn't simply be a modernization of the original game. Here are a few ideas.
- Keep it as a skill based game. Don't use classes for character development.
- Make it unique. Don't try and emulate World of Warcraft or any other games. Perhaps try and develop a unique art style.
- Keep as many of the game systems of the original Ultima Online. There's a reason the game has lasted this long.
- Implement modern game systems as makes sense to the UO style. Players like new MMO systems like quest icons, and instances.
Do you think that it's even worth saving Ultima Online?
What sort of features do you think the successor should have?
I'd like to hear your opinions. Leave a comment below, or continue the discussion in the forums.