It’s always a sad day when an MMO that players have spent countless hours has its doors closed for good. Warhammer Online fans will experience that heartbreak this December and will have to decide between switching to a different MMO or taking a break from the massively multiplayer scene.
When the superhero-themed MMO City of Heroes closed down last November (just about a year after going free-to-play), a group of ambitious players decided to opt for a third alternative. They formed a studio of volunteers and got to work on a spiritual successor themselves. The team has some impressive prototypes to showcase after a full year of work, but now they are looking to the video game community to help take the project to the next level.
The volunteer-based studio, Missing Worlds Media, has stepped up to the plate to carry on the tradition of City of Heroes and its expansion, City of Villains. The non-official sequel is called City of Titans, but the team also refers to it as The Phoenix Project. Missing Worlds Media is aiming to raise $320,000 on Kickstarter over the next 31 days. The funds will be used to, “create a new home for the heroic spirit, but not a clone or replica.”
The Kickstarter page outlines the goals of the project in detail:
“We have an opportunity here to build a modern game, respectful of the play style, lessons, and fun of the old game, while taking advantage of the more than ten years of industry development since our spiritual predecessor started development.”
The promo video for City of Titans walks through the year-long development of what the studio has come up with so far. The team began with concept art and a prototype running on CryEngine, but have since switched over to the Unreal Engine. The campaign has been live for less than a day and already managed to raise over $180,000, so the Kickstarter community is apparently impressed with what Missing Worlds has to offer.
If the Kickstarter raises the additional $140,000 and reaches its goal, Missing Worlds will rely on digital distribution channels, like Steam, to sell City of Titans. The studio has no plans to produce a physical copy of the game, but a purchase of the digital version will include a three month VIP subscription. Details on what will be included in the VIP subscription packaged will be released at a later time.
The City of Titans business model plans to fund the first few months of server maintenance without forcing a subscription fee onto customers by charging for the initial install of the game. Avoiding a required subscription fee is definitely a smart move for an indie MMO. With plenty of competition from the big guns like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2, even a AAA game like The Elder Scrolls Online is taking a bit of a risk by asking fans to shell out $15 per month.
Although the fund-raiser is off to a strong start, we’ve all learned from unsuccessful projects like Shadow of the Eternals that even the most virally-popular Kickstarter projects can still fumble before crossing into the end zone. Hopefully, for the dedicated folks at Missing Worlds Media’s sake, The Phoenix Project follows more in the financial footsteps of the Mighty No. 9 project.
Missing Worlds Media hopes to release a City of Titans beta in mid-to-late 2015 on PC.
Follow Denny on Twitter @The_DFC.