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EA's Earth and Beyond MMOG To Shut Down 63

Zonk writes "The announcement came down yesterday that Electronic Arts' space-based massively multiplayer online game Earth and Beyond is to close this September. There is a detailed official FAQ page regarding the transition to 'Sunset', including dates, content additions, and information about billing. Commentary can be found via Terra Nova and over on Waterthread. Sigh... another one bites the dust."
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EA's Earth and Beyond MMOG To Shut Down

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  • too bad (Score:3, Funny)

    by Wheat.Thin ( 737479 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @03:45PM (#8591185)
    I know it wasn't for everyone, but I've really enjoyed playing this game Guess it's time to switch over to Duke Nukem Forever!
    • Re:too bad (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jafuser ( 112236 )
      I enjoyed E&B as well. It had probably the best and most creative background story of any of the MMORPGs. I have not been an active participant in several months, but I still kept an account there so I could check in and see how the story was progressing.

      E&B had a lot of missed potential; when EA acquired Westwood, it's obvious now that they had no intention to invest in it, but instead to let it fizzle out and then shut it down.

      Between this and what they did to Maxis, I am avoiding EA from now
      • I've got a great t-shirt of the Electronic Arts logo (the cube, sphere and cone) rendered as Borg ships with the text "Resistance Is Futile" underneath... it just keeps getting funnier.
  • by ziggles ( 246540 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @03:50PM (#8591241) Homepage
    It's not because of the monthly fee. It's things like this. I can still go back and play Quake 1, as long as I can get it to run on my computer I can play it. And I do get the urge to do so once in a while. But with MMOGs they're only playable for as long as the company can make money supporting them. I can't depend on the game being around forever, so I don't want to get interested in the game at all.
    • ...fails to cross my face.

      "...so I don't want to get interested in the game at all."

      I didn't find this to be a real danger with E&B. It's the first MMPOG I'd dabbled with since Asheron's Call. I played for about a month, but found it very difficult to bond with my spacecraft.

      As avatars go, rather hard to empathize with. And since the humanoid avatar was only really a shopping and manufacturing interface, well, again, no big surprise it's closing down.

      Now, WoW...that's another story. Must...resist...
    • Mod this parent way up.

      I'd put it a little more strongly:

      I don't buy MMOGs and I won't because of crap like this. When I pay NZ$100 for a game, I expect to be able to play it forever (given backwards compatibility created by the games community). *IF* I'd invested in this game I'd be asking for a refund for the original software from EA right now.
    • by realdpk ( 116490 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @06:03PM (#8592696) Homepage Journal
      Sure would be nice of the game companies to release the binaries/code to let people run their own servers. Even if they couldn't do it at the same scale as a farm of machines, people would still dig it.

      UO will probably always exist because of the UO emulators.
    • Hear hear! I don't listen to music, watch TV or go to the movies or the theater because they all end, too! Heck, I'm not really that enamored of my life because it has a built in termination clause.


    • by Psychochild ( 64124 ) <psychochild @ g m ail.com> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @08:46PM (#8594331) Homepage
      Actually, in most cases it's damned hard to kill an online RPG. The game I own, Meridian 59 [meridian59.com] was originally developed by 3DO and launched in 1996. 3DO closed the game down in 2000, but it was relaunched quickly in 2001 after my company bought the rights to the game. The game has been running strong ever since. We have thousands of fans. It's no EverQuest, but it does pretty well for a game on a tight development budget.

      Really, you only have to worry about this with the really big companies. Smaller, independent developers have a lot more investment into the game. Meridian 59 will never die as long as I have any say in it, and my business partner is even more adamant about this than I am!

      It's notable that despite the difficulty in killing off these types of games, EA is the company that's had the most success in doing so. They closed down a lot of Kesmai's games when they bought that company, shut down Motor City Online, and have now shut down Earth & Beyond. That track record speaks for itself.

      Anyway, give some of the smaller games a try. We're often cheaper than the bigger games; Meridian 59 doesn't even require you to buy a box to play the game, just pay a subscription fee. You'll find that these games will be around for a very long time because the developers see them as something more than just a cash cow. I went into serious personal debt during the dot-com crash just to buy Meridian 59 from 3DO; I'm pretty serious about keeping it available for people to play.

      My thoughts as an indie online RPG developer,
  • by pat_trick ( 218868 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @03:51PM (#8591258)
    I find it interesting that they're offering free copies of Ultima Online and The Sims Online to all of the Earth & Beyond subscribers. First time I've heard of a closing MMO offering a sort of 'severance package'.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @03:58PM (#8591330)
      Ultima Online and The Sims Online were offered for free recently, with 14 days subscriptions, on the cover of PC Gamer.
    • It's smart business. By this point the retail boxes of UO and TSO are valueless. The monthly fee is where its at. They don't give a crap about the game, just the subscriptions.

      I think it shows how little regard they have for their client base. "Wow, we can shut down this sci-fi themed game, and send these pixel-crack addicts a reality-sim or a fantasy themed game and a significant number will try one of them and continue to pay us for their monthly dose!"

    • I believe this kind of thing has happened once before. When Fallen Age was cancelled, Netamin made a deal with Mythic to allow fans of Fallen Age to move over to the Dark Age of Camelot beta.

      This deal with Earth & Beyond is going ahead, no doubt, because EA also publishes The Sims Online and Ultima Online.
    • When Motor City Online (also an EA game) closed down, people were offered an account on other EA games. EA has done this before, so they're old hands at it. ;)

      Some information,
    • They did the same thing when they closed Motor City Online.
  • not surprised (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @04:08PM (#8591443)
    I tried the demo, and I didnt find the game very compelling as a MMOG, as there was little incentive to interact with other players.

    It actually made me wonder why they didnt just make this into a single-player game.
    • My wife and I like to play together online, both of us have computers that keep us perpetually in need of upgrades for just this reason.

      Unfortunately, of the 16 hours we spent playing the game total, only 1 of them was as a group- basically what we found was that it might as well have been a single player game with an IRC client built in so you can chat with other people on a channel devoted to the game. Maybe a little trading going on- mostly seemed to be "I'll give you a bunch of credits if you'll say

  • by Zonk ( 12082 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @04:24PM (#8591603) Homepage Journal
    They make it abundantly clear that the game will be running until September, but how is it a game if they're not going to be adding content for the next 6 months?

    This makes no sense to me. Why not kill it now and save money on the server costs? Everyone is going to leave way before September anyway. With no future for the game, actions have no meaning and the (already stale) content will have no appeal.

    Of course, they likely have a clause in the EULA that states that they have to give sufficient warning of the game closure.

    Regrettably all Around.

    If you dig/dug Earth and Beyond, I know some folks who like Eve Online [google.com].

    I also have some commentary on this sort of thing in my editorial [mmorpgdot.com] today on MMORPGDot [mmorpgdot.com], as well as at my own site [randomdialogue.net].
    • Why not kill it now and save money on the server costs?

      I'm guessing that you can buy multi-month (e.g. 6) account blocks. If that's the case they can't shut off the servers until the end of the billing cycle, as they won't want to issue refunds.

    • Why not kill it now and save money on the server costs? Everyone is going to leave way before September anyway.

      'Killing it off' sooner and not give players an opportunities to exchange some e-mail addresses and whatnot between each other? Two words : angry customers. Although its hard for some people to believe but, when it comes to online gaming, some people form friendships (as far as an online friendship can go) between one another.

      With no future for the game, actions have no meaning and the (alread

    • As for why they are not killing it now:

      The End-User License Agreement guarantees that the player base will be notified a minimum of 90 days before they pull the plug on the servers.

      As for why 6 months? probably so that the people who bought 6 month packages don't demand a refund for the 3 months remaining...

      check out http://www.ebportal.com if you want to read what all of the players have to say...

      -- Fareq
  • by Sarusa ( 104047 )
    I don't think a sigh is really warranted. The game wasn't that compelling, and the market is oversaturated with MMORPGs with little sign of letup. A couple more need to bite the dust. Or, if you don't agree with that, maybe you'll agree that a lot more are /going/ to bite the dust.
    • by Zonk ( 12082 )
      Definately, Sarusa.

      I forsee the crowd thinning out quite a bit more.

      There are over a half a dozen new MMOGs coming out this year alone. While the field has grown quite a bit since Everquest's first birthday (happy b-day EQ!), I'm still not sure it can support *that* many games.

      Me, I'm just waiting for WoW [worldofwarcraft.com].
  • It's a cool concept and a shame it's shutting down. It was one of the mmorpgs I wanted to play when I finally got a chance to play. It looked alot cooler than many of the others.
  • Did anyone play this game? What was your impression of it. Which parts of its potential was realized, which parts weren't?
    • I downloaded the demo and played it. It has been a while, but from what I remember the graphics and gameplay were decent. I played daily over a long holiday weekend. The reasons I chose not to subscribe were several tedious aspects (warping and docking particularly) and it felt like there wasn't enough depth to the game. I also felt that character creation and the ability to leave your ship at stations hinted at capabilities that weren't there. Personally I would love to see a combination of E&B (or EVE
    • by MachDelta ( 704883 ) on Thursday March 18, 2004 @01:49AM (#8595970)
      I was in the beta for a long while (right up until about a month before release), so I think i'm qualified to comment... though my memory may be a little rusty.

      The Good:

      For one, the universe. Seriously. It had an interesting backstory. Man reaches out to the stars and spreads his seed... and then history repeats itself and the whole place goes fucking nuts and trys to kill eachother. Things settle down after a while, but the whole galaxy is gripped by a cold-war style paranoia. And then... weird extra-dimensional shit starts showing up (and we all know thats NEVER a good thing). Throw in a few thousand psychotic mercenary-role players, and voila! Even the factions were cool. Ok, sure, they weren't anything new (anyone played Jumpgate? Same three factions, different names), but they were interesting. You had the mysterious, spiritual, hippy, crazies in the Jenquai. The thick-headed, warmongering, genetically modified warrior caste in the Progen. And then you had the ever random, unpredictable, money-grubbing Terran faction. The ballance between the three was pretty interesting sometimes.

      Second off, E&BO had one of the best newbie zones i'd ever seen. You started off in a completely nonhostile zone that other factions couldn't enter, and spent your first 5 levels or so running through literal training grounds. After the beta started filling up, they even had seperate, load-ballancing instances of the newbie sectors (home zones). From there, new players wandered out into their factions directly controlled space and took on more difficult missions. After that, you started crossing through riskier neutral territory. Eventually you'd wind up in the middle of friggin nowhere as a high level player. It worked VERY well IMO.

      Another thing was the graphics. For a space RPG, it was stunningly beautiful. I remember being totally blown away the first time I saw Saturn. It was this MASSIVE orangy-browinsh sphere that completely filled my screen, acompanied by a never-ending halo of tiny glittering rocks (the ring) tumbling through space. Toss in a gorgeous lense-flare from the sun, and I was ready to wet my pants. For its time, it definitly had some very pretty parts. (Too bad graphics don't make the game). Oh, and speaking of graphics... any other testers remember Megan? Your friendly neighbourhood holo-helper? And I don't mean that stupid silver-jumpsuited, anoerexic robo-whore that shipped with the game. I mean, the friggin smokin hot and button cute Megan they first had. Damn she ruled. And then they replaced her, because "it was just a temp". *Sigh*.

      Now, the Bad:
      Primarilly, their "three activities" sucked. E&BO tried to pride itself on giving players choices between three major activities: Combat, Trade, and Exploration. Too bad they were the worst parts of the game!

      Combat. Combat sucked. Hard. It was the worst implementation of space-based combat i'd EVER seen. When most people (myself included), think of space combat, they think of things like TIE Fighter. Ships darting and dodging, diving and rolling, basically jousting for a tactical advantage. Now, as an RPG, I expected combat to be somewhat toned down, but E&BO was just rediculous. It was, quite literally, nothing more than a game "press the button lots till you win". There was no manuvering. No jousting for position. No zipping around trying to dodge your enemies fire. Nope, because it was all just a poorly-concieved cover for a standard fantasy combat system. Eg: Stand there, and hack away till it dies. Combat in E&BO was simply retarded to witness. It went something like this: Two ships (or a ship and a monster), fly towards eachother. They both stop, face eachother, and shoot their strongest weapon until someone dies. Thats it. Seriously, it was just stupid. No one flew bothered flying around because, one, you could NEVER get behind anyone (ships could turn waaay too fast), and two, it didn't matter anyways since all "to hit" rolls were done regardless of speed, position, or any
    • I played in the beta, so my experiences might be a little different than others'. My major gripes probably still exist though, since they are basic parts of the game:

      When I buy a game where I hop into a spacecraft, I expect to be able to use my joystick. Major gripe number one, was that not only did it have one of the silliest flight models I've ever flown, it did not even support joysticks to create that ammount of realism.

      It was simply point-and-click everquest in space. There was nothing new. And as so
    • IMHO, greatest MMO of all time. i poured a LOT of hours into EnB, and it really does sadden me to see it go like this. *sniff*
  • by nexex ( 256614 )
    i played the beta, never subscribed. Anyone care to sum up how the plot played out?
  • by WapoStyle ( 639758 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @05:08PM (#8592047)
    This was the first online game I had played. I really enjoyed the game a lot but it would have been a much better single player game than online RPG. There was an awful lot of down time. If you were the explorer type and wanted to fly around the galaxy before you got a few engine upgrades you were in for some fairly long waits. Engage you warp engines and just wait for 3-5 minutes. Click the jump gate. Rinse and repeat for however many systems you had to go through. At least you could read mission objectives and mess with your stats while you were in warp.

    I'm pretty surprised it lasted as long as it did as a pay-to-play service. If EA were to release something similar as a single player game I would surely pick it up.

  • by rabbot ( 740825 )
    I played this game for about 2 months, and became bored quickly, althought a few of my friends maxed out their characters and thought it was a lot of fun. I just felt the game was too limited due to the fact that you were always in your ship. If there was land based content (aside from the space stations) I think it would of been more succcessful.
  • by BTWR ( 540147 ) <americangibor3&yahoo,com> on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @05:20PM (#8592138) Homepage Journal
    It should be interesting to be logged on during those last days in September. On September 1st at 11:59PM (or whatever the exact down-date is) maybe all the remaining players will have one last battle-royale, or maybe just a virtual champagne toast, fight together for something fun, and then watch as they all "die" simultanously...
  • I was in the beta for E&B and i just wasn't in the least bit impressed. They took the route that alot of deveolpers did in trying to copy the sucsess of EQ and yet dumb it down to apeal to the masses. The game lacked any real content or interaction, it could have made a decent single player game but as an MMORPG it really lacked. Now EVE-Online...that is one excelent game...i've been playing now for 2 months and its steadily growing...they hold the worlds record in players in one world enviroment...i
    • Re:No Loss (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Pxtl ( 151020 )
      So EVE was that good? I ask because it just hit the $5 bin at the local EB, so I was considering trying it for the bundled months (provided it has such things).

      Plus, as a coder, I'm interested in seeing how a Stackless-Python based MMO would pan out.
      • Re:No Loss (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Maserati ( 8679 )
        EVE works very well. Last time I logged in, the GUI worked very well, the trading and info subsystems were very responsive. It's come a very long way since the release, the frontend seems to have been rewritten almost from scratch.

        It's very heavy on PvP, which isn't really my thing, and a casual player MUST have some affiliations or get left out. I'm not super keen on either, so I dropped. Getting shot down by some asshat who thought I was intruding in his territory was the last straw for me, so I cancelle
      • Give Eve a try it has alot of interesting ideas and for $5 it is worth the 1 free month.
        The best description of Eve would be a game of monopoly where you had to located and purchase, then nail-by-nail build your houses and hotels.
  • Good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Operating Thetan ( 754308 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2004 @06:08PM (#8592747) Journal
    This game was poorly designed and implemented. It made no attempt to break the levelling/mob farming treadmill, had no PvP, despite constant claims that it would be introduced, and suffered from a constant lack of content and innovation..

    It's EA. They tried to introduce their big budget, highly advertised yet devoid of substance game model into the MMORPG market and it failed. Maybe this will make them stop and think about the importance of quality design the next time they move to absorb an independent studio
  • only 2 years? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ssand ( 702570 )
    I suppose that the 6 month notice is partly to the ability to purchase 6 months of game time. It seems like many EA games go down this road to failiure (I know a number of games done by EA that I could not stand). Compared to some MMOG currently in, 2 years really isn't that long. Just take a look at The Realm Online [realmserver.com]. It has been around since '96, or '97.
  • I beta tested it and it gave me such vertigo that I couldn't play it for more than like 2 minutes at a time :/
  • Last night on Netdevil's [netdevil.com] Jumpgate [jossh.com], a pseudo-physics based space-sim, we noticed a small influx of new players. We didn't ask them, but we think it has partially to do with this.

    For you EnB'ers who are on the lookout for another space-sim, Jumpgate has a (free!) trial download, with 10 days free. It's also one of the cheapest MMPOGs on the market, at 9.95/mo.

    It has a robust (while not quite realistic - even in space your ship has drag. It makes it easier to fly. Otherwise docking would be a nightmare. What
  • Whats the odds on the next MMO to go?

    Now UT04 has hit with the mighty onslaught mode, could Planetside start feeling the pinch in the coming months?

  • The writing was on the wall a LONG time before they announced it. If they give you a free month and the FULL version that cheap (Or buy a bundled package with 5 other games for 19.99) I mean hell, when someone BUNDLES a MMOG in a economy pack, its just time to move on.
  • Ea had a winner on there hands with Motor City online a heck of a MMOPRG, that allowed you to build and race classic american cars against other people. The physics models where some of the best I have ever experienced. But they closed down even with 20,000 members at 20 a month. This engine could easily have spawned a Nascar or riceburner version that would have made EA more money but they closed it down and shelved it. Sure people wanted the server apps so indepencent servers could be created. But EA

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