10 Surprising Free Online Games Cancelations in and the Reasons Behind It Vol. 2

We’re back with a second volume of canceled games that we wouldn’t mind spending some more time with, or as you’re about to find out, even get to play at all. Yes, this is one volume that includes a bunch of big names that never saw the light of day or were just in some kind of short alpha or beta. You’ll immediately recognize some names, curse at some of the developers and in the end, realize that this is just how it goes – some games are released and others are canceled, sometimes out of the blue. And then there’s one game that everyone knew it just wasn’t going to happen, right? *cof EverQuest *cof

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everquest next 6

So, EverQuest Next was canceled. We wouldn’t exactly say that this was surprising, but we still had hopes that Daybreak Games could actually see this through. We lost most of our hope when they chopped H1Z1 into two games and ditched the free-to-play model that was associated to the game, and judging by the slow and frustrating development of Landmark, it wasn’t looking too good. EverQuest Next was looking more and more like a game that Daybreak just didn’t have the ability to pull off, especially considering all the wonderful promises of emergent AI, destructible environments, permanent change and a sandbox world with real consequences. It’s like they asked Peter Molyneux to come up with a press release filled with crazy things and only later paused to think about it.

According to Daybreak, EverQuest Next was canceled because they had to push the boundaries and create new technology in aspects such as voxel world tech, dynamic AI systems, and fully 3D modifiable gameplay spaces. There’s progress all the time, but promising several features that aren’t yet fully developed or properly tried and tested seemed like a work of epic proportions or, most likely, a hallucination. With the new EverQuest chapter divided into two games – Landmark and EverQuest Next –, Daybreak failed in most aspects, especially in respect to its players and probably damaging its reputation beyond repair: EverQuest Next canceled, Landmark badly supported and in early access for ages, and ultimately going from free-to-play to a $9.99 game. So much for the “build stuff in Landmark to see the best player creations in EverQuest Next.” How much can you push it before players say “enough!”?

Announced: August 2013 | Canceled: March 2016

How much do we miss it?
Too much bragging and no game in sight **


fable legends 1

Fable Legends was the swan song of Lionhead Studios. A game that we were told would run successfully for five to ten years, it didn’t even get to open beta – Microsoft canceled it and closed Lionhead, makers of the Fable series as well as Black & White. Truly depressing, especially considering that a few weeks earlier, Microsoft had expressed its full commitment to PC gaming. That’s a great way to show it, guys!

Anyway, 4 versus 1 games don’t seem to be really lucky, with BioWare’s Shadow Realms also canceled during development and Evolve being… well, out there. Fable Legends had some potential but initial impressions weren’t exactly mind-blowing. Nevertheless, there was plenty of time for improving, or so we thought. In the end, we’re left with a bitter taste not only due to this being the third time that the Fable name was pointlessly tied to a game, after The Journey and Heroes, but also how it led to the closure of a studio that should be given enough time and resources to finish the project or work on a proper new Fable game.

Announced: August 2013 | Canceled: March 2016

How much do we miss it?
Could turn out interesting if properly supported ***


rising thunder

Rising Thunder was a 2D fighting game of ambition. Seth Killian, ex-Capcom, was leading development with Radiant Entertainment and it was designed with eSports in mind. After an interesting technical alpha showing a gameplay that required skill but wasn’t overcomplicated, it looked like the game was ready for the next stage of development, but suddenly someone stepped in. That someone was Riot Games, makers of League of Legends, who decided to acquire Radiant Entertainment, and for some still unknown reason, cancel the development of Rising Thunder – no explanation was given, it’s just what it is. The team went on to work on a new, to be announced game, which sounds particularly odd considering that Rising Thunder could turn out to be something valuable for Riot Games. Why scrap a game that already was at such an advanced stage of development?

Alpha: July 2015 | Canceled: March 2016

How much do we miss it?
Sadly turned into scrap metal ***


asker the light swallowers 4

Vindictus, or Mabinogi Heroes in the original name, needs some actual competition or, better yet, a true successor. Asker: The Light Swallowers was shaping up to be that game and had some nice physics and environmental destruction to go with the fast-paced action combat – in fact, it was almost like a sequel to Vindictus in all but name. Obviously, it was going to launch with just three characters but that’s the standard in such games, with more to be added later. Developer Neowiz, also responsible for Bless: Embers in the Storm could have a good game on its hands but it seems that the initial reaction from Korean players wasn’t the greatest and the playerbase didn’t get to the numbers the studio was expecting. As such, the game was swiftly killed without having a chance to truly become something special. In a segment where fast returns are becoming more and more the norm, some games seem to be doomed from the start.

Open Beta Korea: August 2015 | Canceled: March 2016

How much do we miss it?
Could be some good, furious fun ****


darkscape 2

March has been such a crappy month for free-to-play and online games in general. DarkScape is just one more name for the pile and one more from Jagex, a studio that is becoming more popular for the games that it cancels than for the ones released. After Transformers Universe, Stellar Dawn and 8 Realms, now it’s time for the PvP-focused DarkScape to say goodbye. An “experiment”, as the studio called it while announcing the closure, DarkScape was another product derived of the eternal RuneScape. Although a small, hardcore community was still playing DarkScape, Jagex decided it wasn’t big enough to warrant ongoing development and then… so long and thank you for all the fish. Well, there’s still Chronicle: RuneScape Legends… we just don’t know for how long.

Release: September 2015 | Canceled: March 2016

How much do we miss it?
There’s only so much RuneScape we can handle **


project hon 1

Project HON was Transformers on steroids, and that’s saying something. NCsoft’s third-person shooter with RPG mechanics looked really cool, with the power of the Unreal Engine 4 making this mech combat game truly shine in a genre where there isn’t that much competition – some players still didn’t get over the Exteel shutdown, also from NCsoft, which was terminated in 2010, and this was something of a spiritual sequel. If you didn’t know about this game and you’re looking at the trailer right now, we wouldn’t be surprised if your jaw just dropped to the floor. Project HON looked awesome, with some mechs that felt really weighty and action that switched from shooting to driving without any time to breathe.

So, what went wrong with this game? NCsoft claims it wasn’t suited to the current gaming market in South Korea, so the studio decided to focus on Lineage Eternal: Twilight Resistance and the MOBA game Master X Master. Seems legit. But wait! There’s more! Three elements in the Project HON team were caught in an embezzlement scandal, pocketing thousands of dollars that should have been used in the development of the game, so this could in no way be related to the tragic fate of the game, right? RIGHT?

Anyway, there’s Figureheads from Square Enix but this game clearly doesn’t pack the same punch as Project HON.

Announced: November 2014 | Canceled: May 2015

How much do we miss it?
Could make Transformers fans proud ****



Another import from the prolific South Korean market, Dizzel was an online shooter that was good enough to kill an hour or two now and then. One of the biggest problems with the western release was the huge gap comparing to the original Korean release, which entered closed beta in 2009! Dizzel looked dated and while the gameplay still packed some punch and featured some brutal executions, it just looked like the game came from another era entirely. Four months after the English release, Dizzel was canceled and publisher OGPlanet said that it was due to the closure of the developer studio, NSStudio. To be honest, it was already too late for Dizzel and this just confirmed it.

Release: December 2014 | Shutdown: April 2015

How much do we miss it?
Somewhat fun but so outdated **


gunslinger stratos reloaded 1

Gunslinger Stratos: Reloaded looked like a strong offering, being supported by an anime series and popular arcade games, but it didn’t turn out that way. Square Enix decided to shut the game in March 2015, less than a year after it entered open beta in Japan. With stylish characters in a Rise of Incarnates kind of way and a gameplay that was described as a MOBA FPS, Gunslinger Stratos: Reloaded was fast, had some verticality and lightning fast moves, but it wasn’t enough to keep it running. The servers were empty and apparently some issues with the multiplayer code also prevented it from being a fluid experience. It’s a shame because there aren’t many games of the genre around – two examples are Cosmic League and the classic S4 League.

Open Beta Japan: August 2015 | Shutdown: March 2016

How much do we miss it?
Gunslinger Stratos: Unloaded, more likely **


command and conquer

Electronic Arts wasn’t quite sure what to do with Command and Conquer as a free-to-play release. First it was Command & Conquer Generals 2 and later this turned into a Command & Conquer online platform where players would be able to access the entire franchise universe, starting with Generals and continuing with Red Alert, Tiberium, and beyond. Sounds ambitious, right? Well, so much that it all went down the drain in October 2013. It looks like the feedback from the alpha was exactly contrary to what studio Victory Games was working on, and so the decision to cancel development. EA ultimately closed the development studio and hasn’t tried another shot at this Command & Conquer online platform yet. Another free-to-play strategy game, End of Nations, also had a troubled development and ended up canceled.

Announced: August 2012 | Shutdown: October 2013

How much do we miss it?
Give it another shot, please ***


Wizardry Online

Sony Online brought this game to North America and Europe straight from Japan and were hoping for it to reach some recognition due to the fact that it was based on the classic Wizardry series by Sir-Tech. Wizardry Online’s main draw was, oddly enough, the permadeath option, hot on the heels of Dark Souls’ success. However, the game never managed to get much attention and simply didn’t work in the US, according to John Smedley, Sony Online’s president at the time. Maybe it was the lack of a decent playerbase for the PvP, the outdated presentation or the excessively high cash shop prices in comparison to the Japanese version… Whatever it was, Wizardry Online failed to live up to the franchise’s potential.

Release: January 2013 | Shutdown: July 2014

How much do we miss it?
Stick to Dark Souls if you want a fair, rewarding challenge **

This concludes our second volume and we’re pretty sure you agree there were some promising games in here, and a few surprising twists that we don’t hear all the time – embezzlement? Really? So much for an Exteel sequel. Anyway, we have good and bad news for you: the good news is that we’ll surely have plenty of material for more volumes in this collection, and the bad news is… well, exactly the same thing! Enjoy gaming and until next time.

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