You might have read somewhere that City of Heroes is being shut down today. Regardless of the right or wrong of NCSoft's decision to shut down a game that was still being enjoyed by thousands of fans, it raises some interesting questions.
How long should a game publisher/developer keep an online game alive?
Does a game publisher/developer owe it to players to keep a game alive?
On the first question, I'm of the opinion that a game should be kept going as long as it still has X number of players logging in every day, and the cost of keeping it going is not an undue burden on the company.
On the second, I do believe that a game company has a responsibility to players to keep a game going as long as the first criteria is met.
Some of you might think that is a little socialist, but the fact of the matter is that these games are being marketed to players as permanent or perpetual services. No where is it mentioned in the packaging that if the game doesn't do Warcraft numbers every year it will be shut down. Okay perhaps in the EULA/TOS but who reads those right?
Maybe I'm being a little too old-school here, but haven't SOE, Turbine, and UO set the standard for longevity and shutdown criteria here?
What do you think?