Top 10 One Hit Wonder Free Online Games Developers

Top 10 One Hit Wonder Free Online Games Developers




Do you know those bands labelled as One Hit Wonders? You know, the ones that enjoy unlimited fame and wealth from a single song or album and then, years later, they haven’t created anything noteworthy? The same exact thing happens with games, and we’re here to tell you about it.

I need to mention that we aren’t including mobile games in the equation, only free-to-play PC games. Can you already guess some of the names from our Top 10 One Hit Wonder Free Online Games Developers? Let’s begin.

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10 – FREEJAM – ROBOCRAFT

Freejam Games was founded in 2013 with the goal of creating a multiplayer action game where you could create and customize your robot vehicles. Robocraft is that game and it was quite successful during the first couple of years, while still maintaining a respectable player base nowadays.

As for Freejam, the team is trying to catch lighting in a bottle again with their next games but hasn’t succeeded so far. Robocraft Royale was a rush job trying to cash in on the Battle Royale popularity, but failed catastrophically, going from buy-to-play to free-to-play in ONE DAY, something that is probably a Guinness World Record, if there was such a category. It is doomed to failure, with a maximum of four (yes, four) players online the last time we checked. But there’s a ray of hope for the studio, as their next buy-to-play game, Cardlife, seems promising. Heavily inspired by Minecraft, Cardlife is set in a world entirely made of cardboard, and you can shape your own characters and objects, a really nice touch. It’s not free-to-play, though.

9 – NS STUDIO – BLACK SQUAD

Who would have thought that a completely generic military shooter would be your greatest breakthrough as a studio? Especially after having failed at a previous attempt, the zombie shooter Dizzel? Well, we have no clue, but Black Squad really is quite an achievement.

It’s not that it’s ground-breaking, or that it brings anything to the genre that you haven’t seen before. The game just screams “generic” from its screenshots and trailers, and it doesn’t look stunning either. And yet, it’s incredibly competent and fun to play, in a way that very few first-person shooters manage to be.

The cherry on top of this game is that it is fair with its free-to-play business model. Which means that players can’t buy any advantages with real money, only skins and other cosmetic stuff. Could this be… gasp… the secret to successful free games? Being fair to your players?

Well, I’ll be damned! Stop the press!

8 – XL GAMES – ARCHEAGE

ArcheAge remastered

XL Games is turning to the mobile market after the failure of Civilization Online, being unable to release another PC game capable of rivalling with the scope of ArcheAge. Flawed as it may be, it’s a work of epic scale and ambition, and one of the last few true sandbox MMORPGs, before trends such as MOBAs and Battle Royales took over.

Either XL Games is secretly developing its next big thing, or they are planning on keeping afloat with ArcheAge and mobile spin-off ArcheAge Begins. Which kinda sucks, to be honest.

7 – NEOPLE – DUNGEON FIGHTER ONLINE

Neople struck gold with the side-scrolling MMO Dungeon Fighter Online but has failed to replicate – or even come close – its success with the following games. Most notable is the shooter Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – First Assault Online, winner of our ‘longest game title’ award. As a first-person shooter, it was above average, but it never managed to find its place.

Oddly enough, there’s a Dungeon Fighter Online sequel in development but not by Neople; instead, it’s Peria Chronicles’ developer Thingsoft who is working on this game, codenamed Project Knock.

Where will Neople go from here? Apart from a few mobile games, they aren’t sharing much, so we’ll file them under ‘one hit wonder’ for now.

6 – SMARTLY DRESSED GAMES – UNTURNED

Just what the hell is Unturned? Have no fear, I am here to tell you all about it. Unturned, it’s pretty much DayZ mixed with Roblox. Or Minecraft with zombies, it also fits nicely. Unturned is free-to-play, has a huge player base, and the funniest thing of all: it was created by one single guy. ONE. When he was 16 years-old.

Holy crap.

Nelson Sexton is still doing pretty much most of the work on Unturned by himself, but he has some help from community mappers with new maps, for example. Smartly Dressed Games is the name that he chose for his company.

It was probably the accessibility and versatility that made Unturned the success that it is today, but it is well deserved. In fact, we don’t see Smartly Dressed Games working on a second game anytime soon, but we don’t blame them – there is only so much one man can do, after all.

5 – DIGITAL EXTREMES – WARFRAME

Shrine of the Eidolon update

Warframe is far from being Digital Extremes’ first game, as the Canadian developer has quite a large catalogue in its past. But as far as free games are concerned, they haven’t made much besides the acclaimed sci-fi third-person shooter.

In fact, their only attempt at another free online game was The Amazing Eternals, a first-person shooter mixed with card game elements that was canceled while still on closed beta. It was far from being a bad game, but it was trying to find a spot in the crowded hero shooter genre, and the studio decided to cut its losses early on.

Eventually, they will take another shot at a free game, but while they gather their strength, they are doing an amazing job with Warframe.

4 – CCP GAMES – EVE ONLINE

CCP Games operates from Iceland and its first game was EVE Online, released in 2003 and needing no introduction. This space-sim MMORPG is enjoying its long life and has turned CCP into the powerful and respected software house that it currently is.

Well, they could certainly be even more respected had they followed EVE with another successful title, but they didn’t. Having acquired the rights for World of Darkness from White Wolf and teasing us with what could be the greatest vampire MMORPG ever, development was sadly canceled for good in 2014 after a series of hiccups. What a waste of a great license.

CCP’s stabs at the first-person shooter genre haven’t been successful either. First it was Dust 514, a shooter which was supposedly connected to EVE Online but, oddly enough, only launched for PlayStation 3. After being canceled, they tried to build on it with Project Legion for PC, a project that was also canceled in 2015 and… you guessed it, is now returning as Project Nova, someday. Probably.

Third time’s the charm, right? Or not.

3 – GRINDING GEAR GAMES – PATH OF EXILE

Path of Exile Bestiary League

There’s no denying that Grinding Gear Games is one of the most surprising success stories of recent years. A studio founded in 2006, its only release until now is the hugely successful action RPG Path of Exile. Some corporate suits may be scratching their heads at how this studio is on top of its game with only one release, and above all, a free one at that.

The answer is: they’re not freaking greedy bastards. Also, they clearly love their game and are willing to do whatever it takes to keep it fresh and interesting.

However, that is all we know about them. Isn’t there a plan B for the studio? Many years have passed by and still no second game in the works? We’re curious to see how Grinding Gear Games would tackle another genre; we would be incredibly excited if they announced an actual MMORPG, even if it was top-down just like Path of Exile or Lost Ark. We can always hope.

2 – JAGEX – RUNESCAPE

Jagex has one of the major video game success stories with RuneScape, which managed to enter the Guinness World Records as the most popular MMORPG. That was in 2008, however, so it’s likely that things have changed a bit in the meantime.

No matter what, RuneScape and its Old School variant are still incredibly popular and Jagex has failed to replicate this success with further games. Even an interesting license such as Hasbro’s Transformers didn’t amount to much, with the initial plans of a full-fledged MMORPG being scrapped in favor of a MOBA game. Not a bad one at that, but it was canceled while still in beta. Other games either failed to take off (Chronicle: RuneScape Legends) or were ditched altogether (Stellar Dawn), and it doesn’t look like there is much else in development right now.

Well, I guess we’ll always have RuneScape.

1 – RIOT GAMES – LEAGUE OF LEGENDS

Riot Games is the powerhouse that brought us so many celebrated titles such as League of Legends, erm… hmm… and… yeah. They are clearly extending their talent everywhere, there is no genre they haven’t touched upon yet.

Sarcasm over. Riot Games is drowning in League of Legends money, so they don’t really care if you want to see some other game developed at their studios. They even have access to Tencent’s money, for crying out loud, as they were bought by the giant Chinese publisher in 2015.

And what did they do with all this money? They acquired Radiant Entertainment, which was working on the promising robot fighting game Rising Thunder… and just canceled the damn thing! Sure, they released the scraps to the fans early 2018, having called it Rising Thunder: Community Edition, and while it comes with an open source server, it also comes with a lot of bugs.

There are some rumors that Radiant could be working on a League of Legends fighting game, which just seems epic. That would be miles ahead of a League of Legends card game, something that has been mentioned too many times, so fingers crossed.

No matter what, and despite the huge success of League of Legends, a studio that is now operating for 12 years should have dipped its feet in a second game already.

In Conclusion

And this is our latest top. Do you think that we missed a major studio? We know there are others, such as Reto Moto with Heroes and Generals, or more recent developers including Blue Mammoth Games with Brawlhalla or Lion Games with SoulWorker. But we don’t want to jump the gun with these last few. Any other ideas, let us know in the comments, and until the next video!



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