Earth & Beyond RIP. Asheron's Call 2 RIP. Seed RIP. Auto Assault RIP.
The sad thing about this isn't the games going under; that's probably an inescapable trapping of the form. The sad part is that in all these cases the games have become unplayable not just in spirit but literally, as taking down the login server means one can't even play the game alone and explore its world offline.
In some cases, the company in question believes the technology it developed for its game, if kept under lock and key, can potentially be sold as a way to recover losses. In others, the developers hope to use the technology again in another project, should they manage someday to recover from the present disappointment.
To my knowledge this hasn't happened yet to an MMO, but it's not unheard of for the chaos that results from a company's dissolution renders much of its work lost forever. Source code is lost, design documents are intentionally destroyed, hardware is thrown out, or ownership rights are put forever into question or split between two different companies - and the failure of the game means it's probably not worth anyone's time to sort through the mess seeking pieces for a whole that might be impossible to reconstruct.
Electronic gaming enthusiasts have until recently been so passionate and so impressive about preserving the form's history, and so comparatively few of even its earliest examples have been lost, that to some of us what's happening here is quite shocking. But by all appearances there is little that can be done. How do you impress upon people doing long hours of usually thankless work, developing something that probably will fail on some level, that they ought to take extra steps to preserve what they're doing? Is there ever the time or the money for this? What can be done?
Or was the early history of electronic gaming so lovingly archived simply because the people doing it were kids, and now that the archivists are all grown up not many people care about these things any longer?
The Saga of Ryzom in trouble again. Another chapter in the distressing tale of the independent MMORPG.