PC Gamer: How Do Devs Manage Shutdowns?

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As much as we like to complain about our favorite games, balancing, content, design decisions, it sometimes helps to appreciate that the titles are still, well, online. Because in the fast-moving industry nowadays, it’s far from guaranteed. Just look up this list of shutdowns in 2017, which probably isn’t even remotely complete. Maintaining a MMO is a huge task, and companies that do well for years on a crowded market deserve respect no matter what.

How Do Devs Manage Shutdowns?

But if stuff goes wrong, and servers get shut down, it does not only suck for the players. The devs themselves are sometimes caught by surprise and have to find ways to communicate the news and handle their own feelings at the same time. Luke Winkie of PC Gamer has an interesting piece up that gives an inside scoop on the process of shutting down online communities from a studio’s standpoint.

You should always try to be as honest as possible with the players. Sometimes, you are not allowed to disclose the reason(s) for the shutdown if another partner is involved but that is a fairly rare occurrence. As I am someone who has taken the ‘overly-sharing’ developer role while I was at the helm of Mythic Entertainment and now at City State, I always try to have a lot of empathy.

Not Business as Usual

The article quotes former Club Penguin Community Manager Bobbi Rieger and Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs, who both had to witness shutdowns first hand. Although taking games offline is always ultimately a business decision, it becomes apparent that it’s certainly not ‘business as usual’. We think it’s worth reading through the article to get a better understanding what devs go through when they realize that one of their games is discontinued.

It also contains some emotional videos of online communities experiencing the final seconds of their games. RIP to the ones that didn’t last, or even never made it.


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