10 Surprising Free Online Games Cancelations in and the Reasons Behind It Vol. 1

We’re constantly bombarded with new games, announcements of the next big thing by the studio that developed the acclaimed ‘crappy grind revenge’ and the classic ‘super paywall saga’. While it’s fairly easy to see which games may have enough quality to warrant a decent playerbase, sometimes we’re surprised by unexpected cancelations. Some games don’t get enough time to see its potential realized, while others didn’t turn out as appealing as one initially expected. Either way, a shutdown usually means that millions go to waste, jobs are lost and some players are disappointed because they were really enjoying the game. In no particular order, let’s take a look at some cancelations and what led to that.

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infinite crisis

A MOBA with superheroes and supervillains? Sounds like pretty good chaotic fun to us. That was probably what Turbine Entertainment thought when the studio decided to develop Infinite Crisis, supported by the cast of the DC Comics Multiverse. Having Batman and Superman fighting alongside, or The Joker and Harley Quinn, among others… what could go wrong? Apparently, a lot. It is rumored that Infinite Crisis was an extremely expensive beast for Turbine and the returns were very low. In the end, the playerbase was just too small to support further development and this MOBA was shut down without having enough time to truly shine. As you may remember, when League of Legends was released, it earned some mild reviews but continued development ultimately turned it into the colossal game that it is nowadays.

Release: March 2015 | Shutdown: August 2015

How much do we miss it?
Could be super, but who knows? ***


triad wars 2

Triad Wars was doomed since the day it was announced. It’s not that the prospect of playing an MMORPG based on the surprising hit Sleeping Dogs wasn’t appealing – it was, and just thinking of it still gives us chills: driving around a large open city, fighting rival gangs, doing some shady business and making our underground empire grow sounds like great fun. However, what we got was a single player game that reused many of the assets from Sleeping Dogs and didn’t try to be its own game. Making Triad Wars an asynchronous multiplayer game – meaning you play alone and just compare your performance with other players through stats – was just about a good decision as making League of Legends the same way: it sucked. Fighting AI characters while raiding other players’ bases meant that it all felt soulless, robotic, a grind without any true human interaction. Developer United Front Games was working on co-op before it all went to shit, but even that wouldn’t be enough to save the game. Which was a shame, as Triad Wars looked good, played nicely and had all the elements for a great MMO given the right time, budget, and above all, focus.

Closed Beta: March 2015 | Shutdown: January 2016

How much do we miss it?
If only it was an actual MMO… **


shadow realms

Let’s be completely honest here: asymmetric multiplayer games aren’t the greatest idea ever. Evolve says hi, and Fable Legends was shaping up so nicely that Microsoft canceled it and shut down Lionhead Studios. Shadow Realms was BioWare’s take on the four versus one formula, with these heroes going out against a Shadowlord. Development was apparently chaotic, with a delay and a reboot, but the reason for this was surprising to say the least – the studio decided they needed to integrate Electronic Arts’ digital store Origin with the game, otherwise Shadow Realms would suffer significant budget cuts. Weird stuff for anyone outside of game design, but it’s just the way it goes. In the end BioWare Austin decided they should focus on helping with EA’s other franchises such as Dragon Age or Mass Effect and ditched Shadow Realms altogether. No big loss, we believe.

Announced: August 2014 | Development stopped: February 2015

How much do we miss it?
Probably for the best, it wasn’t looking good **



Bandai Namco’s two-on-two brawler was one of a kind in the free-to-play genre. Based on a Gundam game, it was unusual to get such a fighting game in western territories. It was fast, the fighting mechanics needed to be improved but gameplay was already interesting enough if you took the time to learn it, and overall it was fun and addicting. It all began on the wrong foot when you had to buy characters with real money at first, something that was later changed. However, it was too late and Rise of Incarnates never got a decent playerbase to be deemed sustainable, maybe due to the lack of depth of the customization and progression systems. Or maybe because Bandai Namco didn’t give it enough time and resources to truly shine. In the end, it was a truly unique game that could grow to become something special and will be sorely missed by some players.

Release: July 2015 | Shutdown: December 2015

How much do we miss it?
**** Come back, we miss your wackiness!


borderlands online

If there’s one franchise that could work as an MMORPG, then Borderlands is the one. With a huge world and wacky characters to go with a shit-ton of weapon customization options, Borderlands Online would probably attract a lot of players. The worst thing 2K Games could do would be to make it exclusive to a region or country, let’s say… China, for example. Oh well…

Anyway, making it heavily instance-based was another decision that wasn’t highly regarded, but everyone stopped caring when 2K China shut down and continuing development on Borderlands Online “would not yield a favorable return on investment”, as the studio said. Maybe some other time, with a different focus and Gearbox directly involved in the development, we may have a true Borderlands MMO.

Closed Beta: January 2015 | Shutdown: November 2015

How much do we miss it?
** Probably would be average at best


moonrise 2

After the very cool State of Decay, Undead Labs went from zombies to Pokémon with Moonrise. A drastic change, but one that could work due to the lack of monster collecting/battler games. There was plenty of potential to the game and it could deliver if it wasn’t for a decision or two that turned out for the worst – making the game for mobile platforms completely limited its scope and resulted in a handicapped PC version that struggled to keep players around. So, instead of a proper open world or something close, we had these zones that didn’t leave much to exploring or wandering about – it was all extremely straightforward and dull, almost pushing Moonrise strictly into PvP territory. Player versus player wasn’t enough to save the game as it still lacked depth anyway.

Closed Beta: March 2015 | Shutdown: December 2015

How much do we miss it?
Good looks, but too shallow ***


scarlet blade

Scarlet Blade made some waves when it launched in March 2013. One of the most popular, if not the most popular fap-to-play game ever conceived, it is clearly aimed at preteens who still haven’t discovered that the internet has much more interesting things than what Scarlet Blade tries to provide. As an MMORPG it’s pretty standard as far as mechanics go, not exactly bad and PvP can be interesting, but it really takes a specific mindset to invest your time and possibly your money in a game where you’ll mostly be looking at butts and boobs. Some players are fast to defend it, saying it was actually fun to play and that the sexual aspect isn’t that significant, but yeah, it’s hard to ignore it. Ultimately the game shut down due to technical difficulties and lack of support from the developer, who was struggling with financial issues, but we honestly doubt that in a perfect situation the playerbase would be high enough to sustain the game.

Release: March 2013 | Shutdown: March 2016

How much do we miss it?
* Good riddance (if you’re easily offended)
***** Why? WHY??? (if you only played for boobs)



Seeing how the MOBA genre was becoming extremely profitable, Electronic Arts wanted a piece of the cake and created Waystone Games with the main purpose of setting its foot into the arena. Dawngate was the game that would rub shoulders with League of Legends and the other trillions of MOBAs – or so they thought, as Dawngate didn’t even leave open beta. Apparently, even with a lot of improvements and additional features, this game wasn’t progressing as the developer was hoping for – whatever that means. We may sound a bit jaded and cranky, but we can’t help thinking that most publishers enter the free-to-play market thinking that a game has to be extremely profitable as soon as it enters beta, no matter how many features it may be lacking. If you’re not willing to go the distance in a crowded genre such as MOBAs, then why even bother starting?

Open Beta: May 2014 | Shutdown: February 2015

How much do we miss it?
Just one more for the never-ending pile **


Transformers Universe

Along the way, Transformers Universe had a serious identity crisis. It’s like this kid who isn’t quite sure what he will be when he grows up and keeps trying different stuff to see what sticks. From an MMORPG to an action MOBA hybrid, Jagex tried to make the best of the license but about half a year of open beta, Transformers Universe was canned. It’s not that it was a bad game – it could be fun and the transformation feature could add something to a genre that is definitely overcrowded, but the studio was quick to realign its focus, which to us translates into “the playerbase and revenue wasn’t as good as expected.” Given the proper budget and an enthusiastic development team, a Transformers online game could work – see Airmech for example – but this one didn’t even get enough time to… well, transform.

Open Beta: July 2014 | Shutdown: January 2015

How much do we miss it?
As memorable as the movies **


dead island epidemic 7

Dead Island isn’t the greatest game and while the sequel is still in the works at this time, it hasn’t stopped Deep Silver from trying to milk it quite a bit. There’s Escape Dead Island, a totally crap game, and then there was Dead Island Epidemic, a free-to-play MOBA from the makers of Bloodline Champions. Somewhat surprisingly, Epidemic was a sharp, clever game that tried to do its own thing with three team battles, waves of AI-controlled zombies and bosses that required teams put their differences aside and focus on the same goal. In general, the game was very polished and appreciated by those who tried it, but it didn’t make it past the open beta phase. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Closed Beta: February 2014 | Shutdown: October 2015

How much do we miss it?
Definitely not a rotten game ****

How many games from this list did you play and actually miss? Do you think any of them had a chance of success if given just a bit more time and budget? Let us know in the comments and remember to support the games you love, even if that means just buying a virtual hat.

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