EA is learning an important lesson at the moment — you can’t take treasured franchises, add fun-crushing gameplay based on player skeletonisation and micro-transactions and expect people to blindly lap it up. True, it’s one EA will fail to understand, or simply ignore, but we can pray that one day, the soul of someone in the company’s upper-management will warm to the idea that if you just make good games with IPs such as Ultima, people will gleefully pay for them.
This week the lesson is being taught at the expense of Mythic’s Ultima Forever, the free-to-play iOS game based on Richard Garriott’s seminal series. A post on the game’s official forums explains that the title will be shut down on 29 August, providing players with a month to enjoy several, entirely meaningless advantages until the plug is pulled:
Significantly boosted Virtue and Reputation rewards
Equipment degradation to be disabled (no damage to worn/equipped items)
Increased drop rate of Gold keys
The in-game store will no longer sell premium currency (Silver and Gold keys)
At least people won’t accidentally spend more money on virtual cash!
Seriously though, this has come off the back of Mythic’s shuttering earlier this year. It reinforces a sad state of affairs in general, where running beloved characters and worlds into the ground has become the norm, with the only thing to show for it is a company’s worth of jobless developers.