Motor City Online Closing Down Update ID

A variety of places are reporting that EA's Motor City Online massively multiplayer racing game is in the process of closing down after less than two years on the market. It's sort of a sad state of affairs, because while it was very unconventional, the game did have quite a following. Subscribers of the service, when it goes down in August, will have the option of migrating to Ultima Online or The Sims Online.
In October of 2001, against many odds, the team delivered MCO just in time for the holiday season. The initial sales data was encouraging. However, we were soon faced with a new challenge only applicable to online games - how to keep the community thriving.

MCO was (and still is) very different from a lot of subscription-based games because of its competitive nature. It was evident that the game was quickly dominated by skilled players. Anyone who can modify cars and race well succeeded while the less-skilled players failed. New players were faced with more defeats than helping hands. Though the overall subscription base was growing, we also experienced a substantial outflow of existing subscribers.

At the end of the day, we had to make the business decision that resulted in today's announcement. Our production resources are valuable, and the EA team that has been supporting MCO needs to go to work on other games.

More valuable resources reallocated at EA. You can read more of the team's comments here.

EA's Online Woes Update ID

On a somewhat related note, CNN Money is reporting about EA's terrible failures in the online realm. While EA has profits in the billions, its online division is losing money. Origin's Ultima is EA's only real online money-maker.
Next on the hit list could be "Earth & Beyond", an online role-playing game that eschews dwarves and dragons for outer space exploration and combat. Again, EA will not break down how many paying subscribers it has for the game, but The NPD Group, which tracks game sales, reports the game has only sold 53,000 copies since its launch in September 2002 – and sales are barely registering these days despite a significant reduction to the retail price.

About the only thing really firing for the online business is its oldest title; "Ultima Online" boasts between 220,000 and 230,000 subscribers. Still, that's only half the number of subscribers of Sony's (SNE: Research, Estimates) "EverQuest", whose monthly fee is $5 higher.

Good times. You can read the rest of the article here.

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