MMO devs discuss the painful process of shutting down online games

Have you ever thought about what it is like for developers and community managers who handle online games that are being shut down? It’s certain just as painful (if not more) for them as it is for us, and it is not as easy as turning off a switch and walking away.

PC Gamer has a fascinating piece on the process of sunsetting titles from a studio’s standpoint, including looks at games such as Club Penguin and PlanetSide 1.

Former Club Penguin CM Bobbi Rieger shared the overload of details that the team had to sort out when the news broke: “My immediate reaction was, ‘Oh crap.’ Of course my thoughts went to the community and how we could make this as positive as possible. At the end of the day, it’s going to be hard. It’s gonna suck. I was just like, ‘OK, what’s the action plan?’”

Studios that have enough lead time for a shutdown are able to take steps to honor the community while dealing with all of the logistics that come with the cessation of an online title.

Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs shared advice from someone who has dealt with this multiple times: “You should always try to be as honest as possible with the players […] At the end of the day you have a business to run and if circumstances come up that force your hand, sometimes all you have is empathy. Other times, you have to make a decision about whether you can afford to keep something running because it is losing money or distracting the studio from its main focus. Now, if you are making a lot of money, the first reason is a little less valid. But in most cases, it’s not an easy decision.”

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