The Fall Of Earthrise

By Craig Pearson on February 10th, 2012 at 4:09 pm.

Join us in remembering the good times.
You’re probably in trouble if Richard Cobbett hasn’t heard of you. When I mentioned to him that Earthrise, a sci-fi based MMO, had closed its servers, he responded with a dismissive shrug, trying to casually hide his missing knowledge in a stance of indifference. But I spotted a bead of sweat forming on his forehead, and knew that Masthead‘s MMO’s failure to make an impact with him had truly damned it.

The servers were shut off yesterday after a year online.

The candid remarks of Atanas Atanasov, Director of Masthead Studios, brought the game to an end.

One year after the launch of the game, we have decided to stop the Earthrise servers. Earthrise was released too early and did not meet the expectations of its fans. We did our best to revive the game in 2011, but the time was not enough to keep up with the user requirements. There is a huge interest in high quality open world sandbox MMORPGs, unfortunately the big publishers do not show any interest in the genre. It is unfortunate that low budget companies like ours are trying to bring innovativeness in the already saturated MMO market. I hope that one day an independent studio will be able to release the long anticipated open world sandbox MMO, which everyone is talking about, but no one is making. We tried, but did not succeed. We would like to apologize to those who were disappointed from Earthrise and to thank everyone who supported us during the years.

There’s the small hope of a free-to-play version resurrecting it, but that too requires publisher intervention. But if APB can come back, then there’s always hope. Here’s the intro sequence, to see if it jogs Rich’s memory .

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47 Comments »

  1. Tyshalle says:

    Huh. I’ve never heard of it either.

    • Parthon says:

      I was thinking the same thing. I’m a hardcore PC gamer who loves unique MMOs and this one went totally under my Radar.

      Yeah, you might be small and indie, but you have to learn how to market and get new players if you want to stay alive.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I remember looking at it, on one of my “look for a sci-fi mmo that’s not Eve” benders, though I think it hadn’t been release yet.

    • Tams80 says:

      “I’m a hardcore PC gamer” Clearly not.

      I remember the trailer was on RPS, bit I didn’t know it had even been released yet either. I was looking forward to playing it, but “come back when we launch” never sticks in my mind.

    • wisnoskij says:

      I am in the same boat, no idea this existed.

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      PoulWrist says:

      My brother played it, but they never lived up to expectations.

    • Hoody says:

      Was seriously interested in this game when i first heard of it a couple of years ago, yet when the beta launched it was obvious that it was all spin and PR and the game was gonna be pretty terribad just like many others we have seen launch over the past several years…

    • fionny says:

      I remember a gameplay video some time back with seriously laggy combat and was not impressed, I guess the majority of the world wasnt.

  2. Lukasz says:


    i somehow missed the news about the game. shame they are closed.

    • Tilaton says:

      Never heard of it either. I guess its failure isn’t that much of a surprise now.

  3. Richie Shoemaker says:

    Earthrise was on borrowed time the moment it was released. It was the Fallout Online decision that hastened its demise.

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      Craig Pearson says:

      This sounds interesting. Go on, sir.

    • Richie Shoemaker says:

      The Earthrise subscriber base can’t have been much more than a thousand players (some “veterans” suggested just hundreds), so it can’t have been bringing in much revenue. One can only assume Masthead were surviving on development cash from “Project V13″ for Interplay, which of course fell through a couple of weeks ago when Bethesda won the Fallout case. Interplay got some money from that, I believe, but Masthead just got dropped.

      Rather sad really. Earthrise was not a good game, but it could have been a sci-fi Darkfall in time.

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      Craig Pearson says:

      If only I’d remembered that they were involved with that other game, I could have made my post much more insightful. Alas, I wiped that bit of my brain and now store jokes in there.

  4. diamondmx says:

    Did they forget to tell anyone when they turned it on? Because I’ve never heard of it, and it’s in a genre I would have given consideration to.

    Wow that video is dull. Did I really just watch a dude fail to shop?

  5. Dominic White says:

    All I can remember about this game is that even in official gameplay trailers, characters were warping and stuttering about all over the place. If that’s the best promotional material they can come up with, then I can’t even fathom what the worst problems looked like.

  6. Blackcompany says:

    A persistent, online sci-fi MMO would be a nice change from conventional PVP Shooters. Hopefully Firefall can make this work, but I would love to see a quality MMO in a sci-fi setting that is not a spaceship.
    .
    Of course there is Perpetuum (which I might even have spelled correctly) but the sheer scale of a game like that, while appealing, is also vastly intimidating as far as barrier to entry is concerned. Not knowing the ropes in games of that scale generally means having vets rob you blind or kill you dead in record time. Or both.
    .
    Certainly there has to be a balance between WoW-style theme parks and EVE’s Wild Jungle.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Same here, some sort of “people” (not ships, not mechs, etc) sci-fi MMO without using reskinned fantasy mechanics (e.g. bringing lightsabres to a gunfight).

      Cool guns, nice space-pants, etc.

    • noerartnoe says:

      about Perpetuum: The vets might also host quizes that, if your general knowledge base and/or google-fu is strong, may give you a nice little shove on the way to becoming filthy rich.

      (Then again, that may have just been a beta thing – haven’t really played it since.)

    • williambraski says:

      I just heard about Face of Mankind the other day. Future sci-fi MMO. Probably crap, but f2p. Might try it out.

  7. fuggles says:

    “It is unfortunate that low budget companies like ours are trying to bring innovativeness in the already saturated MMO market”.

    I don’t run a business, and I may be missing the point, but surely it’s better to aim for a non-saturated market?

    • brulleks says:

      Probably better to try for innovation rather than innovativeness as well. They were just asking for trouble.

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      neofit says:

      @fuggles

      My thoughts exactly. MMO #12345 with FFA PvP fails to attract masses of sheep. What a surprise! I swear it’s like there are more games like this nowadays than players :).

  8. TwwIX says:

    The game was a technical mess and it was severely lacking in the content department. What did they expect? I am surprised that anybody wasted their time and money on this rushed piece of crap. I have seen pre-alpha’s with more redeeming values.

  9. Choca says:

    While it’s always sad to see games die, I can’t say I’m surprised to see them go this soon.

    They should have gone F2P from the start instead of trying to sell their low key, barely finished and non-advertised game at full price with a subscription thrown over it.

  10. Ergonomic Cat says:

    I wanted Earthrise to succeed so badly. I’d followed it for 2+ years before launch. But it was terrible at launch and still bad last year. And not because they’re a small dev.

    Still sad to see them go, but not surprising.

  11. Shuck says:

    Whatever the gameplay/technical shortcomings and lack of awareness of this particular game, sandbox MMOs have inherent problems gathering a mass audience. Sandbox MMOs are newbie/casual hostile, so if you do a AAA MMO, income is going to have a hard time matching development costs at the best of times, I’m afraid.

  12. mmalove says:

    My takeaway from watching that trailer without sound: oh goodie, a PVP MMO where I can be griefed while shopping!

    I like sci-fi, but I’m not at all saddened this went kaput.

  13. Cyrus says:

    Another MMO hits the dust. *yawn*

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    Napalm Sushi says:

    I remember this only for the gameplay trailers featuring some of the most hilariously, immersion breakingly, stereotypically MMO-ish ranged combat I’ve ever seen. The term “bullet sponge” doesn’t suffice to describe the absurd ratio of character hitpoints versus weapon damage that was on show, a ratio I’ve rarely seen outside of tower defence games. It looked about as satisfying as shaving with a two week old razor.

  15. Kefren says:

    Shades of Pitch Black to the start of the trailer.

  16. Craig Stern says:

    “It is unfortunate that low budget companies like ours are trying to bring innovativeness in the already saturated MMO market.”

    I think I know what he’s trying to say, and I’m pretty sure this isn’t it.

  17. mod the world says:

    Since when do failed MMOs get closed? Should have just made it F2P!

    • Matt says:

      That was their plan, but the money ran out before it happened.

  18. Zarunil says:

    This exists?

  19. mollemannen says:

    if earthrise returns as a f2p mmo from gamersfirst then after a few weeks from launch they will introduce a pay2win weapon and loose most of it’s playerbase. (if you’re going for the APB comparison)

  20. innociv says:

    I just went to the website and it says they’re going F2P.

    • Matt says:

      They had a bunch of bugs to fix before going F2P and the money ran out before they were all fixed.

  21. HarrietTubgirl says:

    I played it in beta and it was extremely laggy and buggy, it felt more like pre-alpha. I played it a few weeks before hearing that it was released. From what I played, there is no way they had the time to fix the server issues and overall bugs within the client. Like their message said, no big studios want to fund a sandbox MMO right now, a true sandbox takes a long time and amazing technology to pull off right. Too big of a risk for publishers, hopefully we get to see Salem or ArcheAge this year.

    • scim says:

      It’s true no big studio wants to burn themselves on a true sandbox MMO. Which, imo, is kinda odd considering the success other media that involve a sandboxy type world/virtual reality seem to get a lot of attention. Only last year there were 2 books (Reamde & Ready Player One) that involved big online virtual worlds in which players actually have lasting impact/run the economy. The problem is that it is extremely difficult to do it in such a way that it isn’t extremely hostile towards new players.
      I would love to play a game similar to EVE but with more interactive gameplay. I think Dust 514 (even if it is only on consoles for now) might open up this market. I’m just sick and tired of either farming NPC bosses or farming honor/valor/whatever points. The playerbase of a game like this might not be as large as say a WoW/SWTOR/GW2 is/will be. But the retention rate will be a lot longer once people actually get hooked, human vs human will stay interesting even with small additions and slight changes to the game. I think there is room in that niche within the MMO landscape for a game that follows a similar ruleset to EVE but with much more interactive/twitch gameplay. Still crossing my fingers that Blizzard’s next-gen MMO is something like this (a guy can dream right? :))

  22. Tei says:

    I hoped for a Planetside-ish singleplayer withouth factions, maybe with Guild vs Guild wars.

    But what was delivered was some weakpants Everquest-clone, with some ffa here and there. For this niche we already have Darkfall, that actually have some good interesting qualities. Earthrise weak combat system must die.

    Or maybe the game was brillant on something the public has never seen, then it was bad advertised. I have not seen anything that make this game survive, other than the “promise”. But one billion mmorpg games have good promises/potential, and never delivered anything interesting.

    Anyway I hope the people making this had fun and learned a lot of things.

    • jimjam says:

      I agree, I hope the dev’s involved in this learnt a lot and can use it to work on a project that’s better conceived and marketed.

  23. GT3000 says:

    Good riddance.

  24. bill says:

    This was the one where the trailers showed groups of people standing 5 feet from each other and blasting each other for 5 minutes, right?

  25. speedwaystar says:

    here’s some gameplay, appropriately titled “ghost town”. what a shame.

  26. malkav11 says:

    I had actually heard of it via prerelease coverage (some of it here on RPS, I think), but recall no announcement of any kind that they had actually launched.

  27. Jim Rossignol says:

    I played it a bit, but it was too broken to really get into. It was extremely pretty, but mechanically horrible.