Saturday, 12 July 2014

Artix Entertainment review, Extra 1.1

Previous Extra: Click here.

On the HeroSmash Subscription Unplug.

The decision to cancel memberships or subscriptions to the online game HeroSmash was very abrupt and rushed, in my opinion. This is because the announcement was made after the fact, without giving players any notice.

There was absolutely no warning that memberships would be canceled before the act was carried out on the 7th of July 2014. The announcement that is linked was posted on 9th July.

While subscribers and former subscribers have been given compensation by having 50 years worth of membership and extra secondary currency depending on how much time subscribers have purchased, this brings to mind similar decisions made by some big name companies before closing down their games for good. One example is the Walt Disney games, as explained below.

Walt Disney Games
According to Wikipedia, Disney hosted various games over the years, including Toontown Online and Pirates of the Caribbean Online. Both of these games have been closed in 2013 in favor of expanding on Club Penguin, which was originally an independent project that got bought up by Disney.

When Toontown Online was canceled, every player was made a subscriber, and one could no longer buy subscriptions nor create new accounts. Fans were understandably upset.

For "Pirates of the Caribbean Online," all members were given unlimited subscription a month before the game closed, and received double gold and plunder when playing.

Sony Online Entertainment
Another company that compensated its players before closing down their games. As of current writing, Wizardy Online players will receive a full subscription that allows them to access Sony's other games that require a subscription.

Electronic Arts
Unlike the companies mentioned above, Electronic Arts did not compensate players before closing their online games. For Sims Social, players were merely advised to use up their ingame currencies before the game ended, and no benefits were given. Before that, Electronic Arts had ignored most of the bug reports for Sims Social. After the game closed, the related forums were shut down as well, along with Playfish, the "publisher."

This set of decisions upset fans even more.

The only company that still thrives on a mostly-subscription model seems to be Jagex with their Runescape property. The reason why will be examined in a later blog post.

In short, offering compensation to players in games is a decision not usually taken by game companies, be they large or small ones. Although HeroSmash has not quite done away with their secondary currency, the decision to stop offering subscriptions may shake any confidence that anyone had in the game as it is a case of deja vu for most gamers. This coming from an ex-subscriber of HeroSmash.

P.S. Watch this blog for another post on why The Sims never succeeded as an online property, and an opinion on whether the age of browser/lightweight-download games with subscriptions is over.

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