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Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

Ubisoft To Shut Down Shadowbane 74

tyen writes "Ubisoft has announced the shutdown of Shadowbane, the first major, fantasy role-playing MMO with true PVP (full asset destruction possible). The shutdown will take place in about two weeks, at the start of May. No official reason has been given by Ubisoft, but running an MMO for free for the past three years, with no significant improvement in market growth during that period, could play a part in the decision. There's been no response from Ubisoft yet on calls to open source the code. "
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Ubisoft To Shut Down Shadowbane

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  • You are going to see a *lot* of this in the next 2 years or so.

    • I completely agree with this, the market is just to flooded. The quality of the games has gone down, and the support for them just isn't there. Look at how Warhammer and Conan have had to cut servers, both had a fairly large launch, but neither held onto the players. So I would expect to see the older generation of MMO's start to phase out, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the newer games dropped down to a handful of servers.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        the market is not flooded. It's dominated by one major force that has huge shares and everybody else is fighting for scraps.

        Whether or not WOW is worth the share it has is another question, but it's the number one reason why there's so little room.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

          Well, the competition is failing to take away WoW's marketshare. I don't think WoW is so terribly unique that there's no way anybody could ever make a competitor that will beat it but it doesn't look like the competition has any clue how to make one.

          • Maybe if the competition tried to fill a niche that WoW doesn't instead of trying to copy them? There are plenty of niches that WoW doesn't bother to cater to. Full loot, FFA PvP, Sci-Fi, skill based system (like UO or original SWG), a fusion of FPS and RPG or RTS and RPG, etc. Instead of filling these niches and being content with a few hundred thousand subscribers (at least at first), the idiots calling the shots at these other development companies are trying to release games that are basically carbon
            • I wish I could provide the actual article but it deals with Matt Groening's frustrations with "Futurama". In short, the networks were telling him to make another Simpsons and his protest was that they've already got one.
        • So how many MMO's does it take to consider it a flooded market. The entirety of the MMO community does not revolve around 1 game (WoW) regardless of their share of the player base.(how many people do you know that have more than 1 subscription) Have you seen how many different titles there are? Have you seen how many are in development/beta phases? Yes I assume most of them would love to have the same popularity that WoW has. Which is why you have so many MMOs ...wait for it... flooding the market in hopes
        • Re:Not done yet (Score:5, Insightful)

          by edremy ( 36408 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @03:25PM (#27629081) Journal
          Fighting for scraps? Not really, when you consider those "scraps" would have been considered major successes in the pre-WoW days- 200k subscribers was thought to be a high end number. There's plenty of room in the MMO market and quite a few thriving MMOs- you just have to find a niche that's not "Generic fantasy PvE MMO" because WoW has that sewed up. Lord of the Rings Online is doing well based on the lore and built in story, WAR and AoC are contracting but there's a market for the PvP oriented games, and EVE is doing well in the "economic simulation for psychopaths" arena
  • Possible reason? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Warlord88 ( 1065794 )
    Could there be any reason aside from lack of revenue generation?
    • Indeed, you're right. It amazes me that other free MMOs (like Runescape, but a) they have "member" subscription and b) their operating costs are a lot lower) and things like YouTube keep open with no visible source of income.

      Maybe Ubisoft has another reason altogether. What if they plan to use the servers for another MMO?
  • by DeweyQ ( 1247570 )
    I wasn't attracted to Shadowbane because I have found player-vs-player games to be usually ruined by ubergamers. However, team-vs-team is a different thing and in reading the farewell, it looks like guilds were a big part of the game. I probably should have taken a closer look. Oh well... too late now.
    • Re:PvP (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SeekerDarksteel ( 896422 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @02:46PM (#27628767)
      Shadowbane's group v group combat was very interesting. Unfortunately it was about the only thing worthwhile about the game. The completely open nature of pvp did make running around solo or in small groups a pain in the ass, and there was massive class disparity. But there was just something about 10 v 10 group combat that no other game has seemed to get the same. One of my fondest memories of the game was when my guild was defending a mine. We had one priest, one bard, and 8 crossbow warriors. One guy would call out a target and all the crossbowmen would skewer the target. We held off three consecutive groups that way.

      The only other thing that I liked was the extremely flexible nature of character classes. A single class could have many different viable builds, each one drastically different. The same class could be a super-high defense low damage tank, a high-damage decent defense melee dps, or a decent ranged nuker. Some of the builds were in fact completely unintentional and only came about due to experimentation.
      • by Knara ( 9377 )
        Sounds somewhat like how DAoC was at its height. I still have fond memories of keep defense in Thid. A relatively small number of people were playing MMOs back in the day, but 24 vs 24 siege battles were great fun. Sadly, Warhammer never recaptured that issue (DAoC had issues with severe grind, though, so it wasn't all good).
  • What the hell does that mean exactly? It was "true" because of world changes? Ultima Online was the first graphical MMO with true PvP, IMO.
    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      I assume it mean what the short description says? That is, player kills player, other players is DEAD, there is no going back, resurrect, .. Get a new char and start over if you fail in combat.

    • by tyen ( 17399 )
      There was small-scale asset destruction when your toon died, but newbies quickly learned to leave their gear in town and stop bringing along all their gear when they went out leveling. Nothing new there, several games did that before Shadowbane. What was truly unique was what the Anonymous Coward posted below []: the PvP scaled to GvG, NvN (nation vs. nation) and up, and the stakes got proportionally higher. Furthermore, beyond the individual-scale PvP, there wasn't a way to protect your assets other than figh
  • by Segod ( 463725 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @11:10AM (#27626821)

    I played it for about a year and a half when it was new. It had a pretty decent following though nothing anywhere near the level of something like WoW.

    It was really fun though especially during a "bane". For those who didn't play, a bane was when you effectively declared war on someone else's city. Once set up, each side was given a set amount of time to prepare (like a day or a week or something, I forget) and then once it went off, all of the town's buildings were vulnerable and if you destroyed their tree of life, their town was taken over by the other team. Shadowbane wasn't about gold, loot or missions though there was plenty of that. It was about full on guild vs guild battles. I've never really found a MMO with quite the same experience. So this is very sad for me even though I have no time to play a game like this anyway.

    Ultimately, I think it was killed by griefers, people who didn't like PvP leaving the game and constant crashing that they didn't fully fix until about the time I stopped playing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SupremoMan ( 912191 )

      I thought the game was an experiment to see how many bugs a person can tolerate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kv9 ( 697238 )

      Shadowbane wasn't about gold, loot or missions though there was plenty of that. It was about full on guild vs guild battles. I've never really found a MMO with quite the same experience.

      while not on the fantasy side, EVE Online has the most epic-drama-fueled-PVP where conflicts between thousands of players are a regular day to day thing.

      • Skip EVE (Score:1, Troll)

        by TheLink ( 130905 )
        EVE Online also has had developers cheating and favouring one party over the rest. Not just once.

        I find it silly to play a game like that- like trying to play a game when there's a explicitly biased umpire/referee.

        If I wanted corruption on top of conflicts between thousands of people day to day, I already have real life for that.
    • by Reapy ( 688651 )

      I found that time period in shadowbane to be a slowing of performance until the inevitable sb.exe error and crash to desktop. That's the only reason I left the game :(

  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dyinobal ( 1427207 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @11:43AM (#27627097)
    I have never actually heard of this MMO, so I guess perhaps marketing fail on their part.
    • Re:What? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Trecares ( 416205 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @12:42PM (#27627659)

      Because it was released 6 years ago. It was a novel game for it's time. A lot of original elements in the game. The mechanics of it were pretty fun. Unfortunately the game had tons of problems, bugs, class balance issues, and severe lag also. Large scale combat would frequently overload the servers and make it impossible to do anything. At most probably only 100 players per side was sort of okay. But at that time, it was fairly common for battles to have upwards of 200-300 people, per side. That was due to the formation of alliances among guilds, and some guilds managing to attain a large membership, over a thousand players. Once people had been driven away by all the bugs, exploits and other issues, the game never recovered. I came back years later and it was pretty much empty. Another victim of an "early" launch. A few more months, and more testing and it could have been much better.


      • I was also using the internet six years ago. I don't think it's age was why I hadn't heard of it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          If you played any mmorpg's at all 6 years ago, it would have been very difficult to not hear about Shadowbane or see one of it's adds.

          Besides it being a top 5 game in terms of population, there was little competition then, UO, Everquest, heck SWG wasn't even released 6 years ago. Although I never played it for any length of time, Shadowbane reviews, adds, etc were on every gaming site I frequented...not sure how you could have missed them unless you used AOL or something.

          • I was playing Eve six years ago, that's about the most I did as far as the MMO scene. I had a friend who did evercrack though. I guess I just wasn't that connected in terms of MMO gaming.
      • by SethJohnson ( 112166 ) on Saturday April 18, 2009 @02:08PM (#27628415) Homepage Journal

        I once hit up a friend of mine for a job who worked at Shadowbane's developer, Wolfpack Studios []. I was hoping to work on the back end database. Turned out they didn't have a formal rdbms behind the game. All player data, etc. was stored in flat files. I offered to help migrate them to a more reliable, higher performance database architecture, but they weren't interested. I think the lifecycle of the product had moved beyond architecture development and they only had the budget for ongoing maintenance (circa 2003).

    • by Jekler ( 626699 )

      I had heard of it, but almost 3-4 years before its release; so long ago I had just bought a Voodoo5 when I first heard about the game. I knew there was no way they could keep the hype at a fevered pitch for so long. They originally had problems nailing down a publisher before finally securing a deal with Ubisoft. I was excited by the concept and they put a lot of work into the mythology of the game, but I was really disappointed by the execution.

      The class/race/character design system was needlessly com

  • Why is it I only find out about these free mmorpg's just as they shut down?


  • "the first major, fantasy role-playing MMO with true PVP (full asset destruction possible)." I'm not sure what "full asset destruction possible" means (I tried reading up on SB's pvp and i could see anything...) but UO was definitely one of the first fantasy MMO's to have true PVP system with lootable corpses and such. But even UO wasn't the first to do this. Legends of Kesmai had a full PVP/looting system in it as well and I'm pretty sure it came out before UO finished it's beta phase.
    • I'm pretty sure it came out before UO finished it's beta phase.

      Legends of Kesmai was just Island of Kesmai with a GUI. IoK dates back to 1985.

  • They had a lot of ambitious ideas, but they pushed it out way too early and it showed. It's just another example of bean counters pushing to see a fast ROI and so they pressure the devs into writing too much too fast. That always results in kludgy, fragile code...guaranteed death for an MMORPG. Shadowbane was dead before it left closed beta.

    The business plan of MMORPGs is long game; They need a subscriber base that at least remains constant but ideally grows over time. But that requires a critical mass

    • This is so true, and as a result what could have been a wonderful game died a slow disasterous death. :(
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Shadowbane is, to this day, the only MMO I ever enjoyed. Without a robust PvP model like Shadowbane had, no other MMO seems worth the hassle (or the $15/month).

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Darkfall has advertised it should have a very robust PvP model. It seemes to be modeled after pre-Trammel UO, where skills are king and equipment is secondary.

  • ... am I the only one who first read the title as simply "Ubisoft To Shut Down"?

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.