Sony Online Entertainment is halting development on four of its massively multiplayer games: Free Realms, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes and Wizardry Online, the company announced today.
"At Sony Online Entertainment, we are always evaluating our portfolio to ensure we're providing players with the best gameplay experiences," said Michele Cagle, director of global communications. "At times, as part of this commitment, we have to make the difficult decision to sunset a game so we can refocus our resources on other areas in the best interest of our company and player community."
Each game will cease operating later this year, and Cagle offered explanations for the shutdowns.
Launched in 2009 for Windows PC, eventually ported to Mac and PlayStation 3 and targeted at children and teens, Free Realms players are "moving on to other games."
"When we first released the game in 2009, it was one of the very first free-to-play MMO for kids and teens, and we couldn't be prouder of everything we have accomplished together in the game," producer Steve George wrote in the Free Realms forums. "While today's news might be a disappointment, we're sincerely excited about what's to come for the game before we say goodbye, including player celebration in-game events and more!"
Launched in 2010 and available on Mac and Windows PC, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures players are "growing up and moving on."
"We've had many incredible experiences with you over the years," George wrote in the Clone Wars Adventures forums. "We've fought epic battles and made unbelievable memories. It was a very difficult decision to make, but we knew this day would come eventually."
A "decreasing player population" means that SOE cannot "justify the resources required to support and update" Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, a Windows PC role-playing game that dates back to 2007.
"But here's the deal," Vanguard's community manager Jenn "Yaviey" Bridges wrote in Vanguard forums. "Player population numbers have decreased making it difficult to justify the resources needed to support and update this game. This is an older game and we're experiencing more and more technical challenges to continue running and updating it in a way you deserve. Simply put, these are issues that cannot be fixed in the long term and as a player, we would be doing you a disservice and going against our company commitment to provide the best gameplay experiences. So given this information, sunsetting the game later this year is the inevitable conclusion."
The free-to-play Wizardry Online will end July 31, 2014 in mutual agreement with SOE's "partners at Gamepot" after launching in January 2013.
"For current Wizardry Online members, we will be upgrading your membership to SOE's new All Access membership," Administrator Tony “RadarX” Jones wrote in the Wizardry forums. "Under this new All Access plan, you will be able to continue to enjoy membership benefits in Wizardry Online until it sunsets, in addition to having top tier access in SOE's other membership games. We sincerely hope that by upgrading your membership, you'll be able to explore our other games to see if one is a fit for you moving forward."
SOE will provide details on each game's ending at a later date.
According to a tweet from SOE president President John Smedley, he'll take to Reddit for an AMA at 6 p.m. ET today to answer any questions that players have and post the link when it's live.
Update: According to an FAQ regarding changes to the SOE All Access membership program, both Clone Wars Adventures and Free Realms will be shuttered March 31, 2014.