While Richard Garriott was floating around in the cosmos, his game, Tabula Rasa was struggling to stay afloat. Today, a little over a year after launching, NCSoft announced that Tabula Rasa will be shutting down in February 2009. This might explain Garriott’s recent departure from NCSoft or maybe he just wants to be a space cowboy, who knows. Players of an MMORPG that is getting shut down inevitably feel slighted. You paid for a game, continually paid to play it through subscriptions and now, are suddenly left in the dark with an unplayable game. Fortunately as a consolation prize, NCSoft will be giving away access to their other MMO’s, City of Heroes and Lineage 2, free for 3 months. They’re also giving away beta and pre-order access to their upcoming MMO Aion.
NCSoft took a risk. A risk that any MMO takes right now, going up against the juggernaut that is World of Warcraft. It’s the gorilla in the room that no one seems to be able to entice out, even with the tastiest of bananas. It’s extremely difficult for any MMO to succeed alongside WoW. Not even the supposed WoW killer, Warhammer Online, has managed to slow it down. Should developers not invest in MMO’s at all while WoW is still around? No. Competition is vital for any market. Without it there would be no inspiration for innovation. We want the market to grow and flourish, not sit stagnant. It is only a matter of time before someone hits that “eureka!” moment and comes up with the next big MMO, as long as developers keep trying.