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