Last Flicker Of Life: Glitch Is Over

By Jim Rossignol on November 15th, 2012 at 4:00 pm.


Tiny Speck announced last night that Glitch is coming to an end: “The live game/world will be closed on December 9th at 8pm Pacific time.” The enormously ambitious browser-based MMO attracted loads of talent to the development process, but failed to interest gamers. At one point the game was actually unlaunched, due to serious issues with the design. Tiny Speck explain: “Unfortunately, Glitch has not attracted an audience large enough to sustain itself and based on a long period of experimentation and our best estimates, it seems unlikely that it ever would. And, given the prevailing technological trends — the movement towards mobile and especially the continued decline of the Flash platform on which Glitch was built — it was unlikely to do so before its time was up. Glitch was very ambitious and pushed the limits of what could be done in a browser-based game … and then those limits pushed back.”

It was a brave idea, but one that definitely didn’t do what it set out to do. A sad day. More details and information about the closure can be found here.

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52 Comments »

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  1. frightlever says:

    Didn’t realise they ever re-launched after the previous failed launch. I only played Beta and there wasn’t much fun to be found then. Guess they never managed to inject enough in.

    • Shuck says:

      I suspect the “unlaunch” killed them. It’s a bad marketing move – even worse than simply not having launched soon after getting press attention, which is bad enough. With a grind-heavy game, you need to keep people playing, otherwise they’ll move on to other things, and new players won’t come back if they come to your game and discover it’s been taken offline for some unspecified period of time. To bounce back from that, they would have needed some heroic marketing efforts.
      Note to online game developers: don’t take your games down during revamps. Tell your audience about the changes you’re making and get them excited about the game, even if they’re not crazy about what’s there now. Some people might leave during the wait, but that’s tiny compared to the losses if you shut down entirely. Fix the game then relaunch it with no gap in play.

      • gattsuru says:

        The unlaunch didn’t actually result in the game being offline — Glitch actually kept surprisingly high uptime compared even to released MMOs. The only result was them readding the queue for new players without invites, and that was never extremely long.

        I think the big issue was playability, damning as that is. I enjoyed the game, but even many folk that enjoyed Harvest Moon found it boring, and that’s a hard thing to come back from. There were a load of streets to explore… which the overwhelming majority of which looked exceptionally similar. There were lots of quests and achievements, most of which involved watching a (slow) progress bar while eating on occasion to keep your energy level up. It’s only with the recent revamp of the housing system that you could do much in terms of customization, and that required a pretty huge investment in skills (and thus time not-playing, given the skill systems’ issues) to do anything. And the Flash-based system did terribly in crowded areas, a problem given the social-focused nature of the game and the rare Rook attacks.

        Add in what’s sounding like a terribly high cost of upkeep (forum posts are putting 500k around) at the same time that the only purchasables are funny hats and different bed and wallpaper designs, and you’ve got a recipe for a more basic problem.

    • Raiyne says:

      The fatal flaw was that for a game that wanted to inspire and foster creativity and imagination, it was fundamentally built upon numbers and ‘game-ification’ designs. There was no depth to the systems in place and players didn’t really have any meaningful interaction with the game or even other players. It’s just a pretty chatroom.

    • tiny speck pie says:

      If I knew how I would run and distribute the game myself to keep it alive.

  2. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    I never even heard of it. Perhaps that’s more the problem than “limits pushing back”

  3. TillEulenspiegel says:

    I suspect it failed at least partly because their marketing was crap. How do I know their marketing was crap? Because I’d never heard of the game until today, and judging from comments on other sites, neither had many other people.

    Like, their about page is frustratingly vague. It may as well be describing Second Life. If you can’t describe your game in an exciting or intriguing way in a few sentences, you’ve failed.

    • qrter says:

      Just reading the bit about why the game is called ‘Glitch’ instantly gets my hackles up.

    • jeffcapeshop says:

      my impression that it was Second Life, but 2d with a lot of grinding, horrible looking and made in flash. can’t imagine why it failed.

    • Jay says:

      Marketing certainly seems to have been a factor. I recall reading something about it after they started re-working it, thinking it sounded interesting enough to check out on re-release, only for this closure notice to be the next thing I heard.

      Tangentially, I could stand to see a few more MMOs take some cues from Second Life. I thought it might’ve at least sparked a few interesting derivatives that built on the core concepts, but it seems like that janky, laggy curiosity is about it as far it got in any real terms.

    • Baines says:

      Marketing helps you get noticed, but I honestly don’t recall ever reading anything positive about the title. Everything I’d read implied, or outright said, that it was deeply flawed and/or limited.

      Marketing can be hard pressed to overcome a(n apparently) poor game design, more so when the world was becoming increasingly flooded with browser and/or free social/action/whatever MMOs.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      It’s vague on purpose. Think about it for a second. Money + vagueness = ???

  4. RakeShark says:

    Seems like (reading the WiT and the game site itself) this was a pretty chatroom targeted at an audience much smaller than hoped.

    It sure did remind me why I really don’t like MMO crafting systems either. Wait bars, wait bars for everything. It’s not like I get a rush of stars and confetti every time I make a grilled cheese sandwich in my kitchen, but the craft and interaction of that is much more fulfilling than watching a wait bar cross the screen for my goth-punk space shuttle.

    For all its prettiness, it seems exceedingly distant and impersonal.

  5. Trithne says:

    My girlfriend plays this a lot, and that was the only way I knew it even existed. The game was in an invite-only beta forever, and basically did no marketing. It was interesting to watch, as I came to understand the absurd world it puts you in, like something from a Doug Tennapel game, and I liked that people were trying to make an MMO about building and hanging out instead of stabbing everyone you meet. But I think it didn’t so much fail to interest gamers as it sat hidden in obscurity for too long and though it was safe there.

    I have to say though, more than anything else, the idea that a world can be deleted from existence is saddening. I feel bad for all the piggies. They were cute.

    • Allenomura says:

      “The game was in an invite-only beta forever, and basically did no marketing.”

      The invite-only part was probably what did it in. All I knew about it was that it was a quirky mmo. That you needed an invite in order to play. If it ever left that stage, I wouldn’t know. I do know I wasn’t begging to play it, though.

  6. MadTinkerer says:

    Wait, it was still going? I kept forgetting it wasn’t shut down already.

    But such is the fate of ALL MMOS EVENTUALLY ARGH JUST STOP MAKING MMOS YOU IDIOTS I CAN’T TAKE IT.

    • Yglorba says:

      Seriously. They need to stop making MMOs. The world market for MMOs is roughly about, oh, say, one, and it already exists.

      Yes, yes, give or take a few dozen, but the point is — an MMO requires constant money to keep up. And that means you need players willing to constantly pay you cash; and the most common MMO designs require massive amounts of time, too. People look at the huge numbers for WoW and the few other successful MMOs and think they want a piece of that, and they don’t understand that (unlike other games) most people are only going to play one MMO. The market is taken, mostly, unless you have something totally and utterly new.

      You can release a knock-off of a single-player game — or even a multi-player game — and it’ll attract players willing to play it until the next installment of the original comes out. That doesn’t work with MMOs — if you’re going to compete with WoW or Second Life, you damn well have to be better than them. And since they’ve been in continuous development for so long, that’s unlikely to happen before you run out of cash.

  7. Phantoon says:

    Yeah, I don’t remember hearing about this at all.

  8. Sinkytown says:

    Glitch was rubbish. The game was built on a foundation of player manipulation. Watch as your numerous currencies increase. Fill those bars. A treadmill without a single inherently interesting mechanic. Piling ‘whimsy’ on top of hollow, exploitative design doesn’t make you any less of a FarmVille. Sad that so much has been lost, but I hope the blame is directed at the game’s odious design.

    • Caiman says:

      Pretty much my feeling from the beta too. An awful anti-game of the type I can’t stand. If this pushes the limits of browser gaming, you can keep it.

    • Sivart13 says:

      This guy gets it.

      All the people in this thread complaining about the game’s lack of marketing are wrong, dead wrong. For anyone smaller than Ubisoft, investing in “marketing” is a black hole for money that could have been spent on your game.

      Minecraft became a huge hit without any “marketing” because it was a game people wanted to play. Glitch was a set of progress bars wrapped in “whimsy” with no gameplay and the thinnest of ‘social’ features. It deserved to die.

  9. JD Ogre says:

    I remember it from articles on Massively, but once I stopped reading there, I didn’t hear a single thing about it anywhere else until just now. Maybe if they’d bothered to market it at all, rather than rely on one person at one news/blog site focused on one specific game type, things would have been different.

  10. Obc says:

    i kinda liked the game, even went back to it after they relaunched the game. it was such a friendly atmosphere there. but the whole game was just a massive grind with the best sugarcoating there is. it was very good looking, the people in the game were so very nice, friendly and wonderful to each other. it was harvest moon meets sims. the aesthetics were fabulous but alas there wasnt much game to it, it was basicly a chatroom with fine people who were playing a good looking “game” in the background.

  11. Loque says:

    A 100% Flash-based game in 2012… I’d say they were more fool than brave, let me say so. I feel the pain though. Working on a project like a MMO can steal your life.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Not saying I disagree with you, but Dofus ( http://www.dofus.com/en ) is Flash and still going strong.

    • themindstream says:

      Flash as a PC-based web platform probably still has a few years left in it. HTML 5 is still experiencing growing pains and suffers some from cross-platform compatibility Fun in the Dwarf Fortress sense. I wouldn’t advocate starting any long-term projects with Flash now but it is not simply going to go away and die as soon as some people are saying.

      Anyway, irony. Just last week I saw an article about Glitch’s world events in Massively and decided to dust off my beta account, which I’d played on for about two weeks before getting bored. Charming effort, art and world building, definitely weak in the gameplay department; too many grindy progress bars.

  12. Giuseppe says:

    Never heard of it until now.

  13. soco says:

    Damn it. I got my girlfriend started on this game a month or two ago and she loves it. She normally got into those very shallow facebook games and I thought this looked like it had a bit more meat to it (not a lot mind you, but a bit). I had hoped I could use this to slowly introduce her to more and more complex games down the road.

    I’m going to be in the doghouse for weeks…WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE GAME I LOVE YOU JUST GOT ME INTO IS CLOSING!!! I’M NEVER PLAYING A GAME YOU SUGGEST EVER AGAIN!!!

    • Sivart13 says:

      Don’t worry, there’s only about a month’s worth of gameplay in the thing anyway.

  14. Memphis-Ahn says:

    Damn. After all the time I spent learning skills too…
    Glitch’s one fault was that there was literally no incentive to spend money, you can’t make a profit with F2P unless you gouge your costumers and harshly limit their ability to play for free.

  15. SkittleDiddler says:

    Glitchy marketing apparently.

  16. Phasma Felis says:

    I never played it, but I really wanted it to succeed for having the best MMO trailer and premise ever.

    Apparently the cute l’il sackboys running around and having social-constructive adventures are sentient thoughts in the shared imagination of eleven vast and monstrous alien gods. And are occasionally required to reclaim or defend portions of the mindscape from the carrion crows that peck at the walls of the world, and also at the inside of the player’s monitor.

    Seriously, how great is that?

  17. Phenomen says:

    Idea was new and inovative: open world, thousands of activities, dynamic skill system, advanced player houses with gardens etc.. But marketing was horrible. Like really, I knew about this game only because article on Massively. No print ad, no tv ad, no facebook ad, no single banner around web.. Wtf is this.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      What the fuck are you smoking mentioning a TV ad? How many millions do you think they had sitting around?

  18. The Random One says:

    Hm, I think I’ve had this on my to-play list for a while, together with around eleven million more games. I agree it seems to be a marketing problem; maybe it wasn’t targeting us “core gamers”, but I’m not sure anyone know who it was supposed to be targeting then.

  19. kwyjibo says:

    $17M of venture funding has gone into this. What a fucking waste.

    That said, I did have a bit of a poke about in glitch last week (I was surprised it was still running) – the thing did seem a lot more charming and pleasant than it did on first launch. Problem was that the whole thing was pretty much devoid of players.

    It was so obvious this was going to fail from the outset.

  20. The_invalid says:

    I wanted to love Glitch. The premise was awesome. But quite frankly it was absolutely terrible in execution. Can’t say I’m heartbroken.

  21. ZephaniahGrey says:

    I started on this way back in beta, but after a week, I found all I was doing was using my phone to build skills. The fact is that Glitch was boring as hell, and so confusing that if there was anything interesting in there, I never got around to seeing it. It’s unfortunate that so much ambition failed, but the game was just bad.

  22. Idomis says:

    The “movement towards mobile” excuse is very tired.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Totally. I mean, clearly, they could have kept going with a persistent flash-based game when those historically haven’t done particularly well and are doing less so now that Native persistent worlds are being produced for mobile devices, which is where you WOULD be playing Glitch. And I’m sure it has nothing to do with Flash being discontinued for most mobile devices. I mean, that wouldn’t hinder their audience in ANY way.

      • Salt says:

        It is not too much work to compile a Flash project to AIR, which can then run nicely on mobile devices.

        The Flash browser plugin isn’t getting updated on mobile platforms, but the Flash platform can be used to build standalone apps for mobile.

  23. WearyAmoeba says:

    What a tough crowd. I find it troubling that Glitch is getting pounded so badly. Glitch WAS ultimately a good thing. I played this quite a bit with my daughter and we had a plenty of fun. The list of flaws was long, and the injection of fun was never completed… It was one of those things where talking about it afterwards was more fun than actually playing it. However, I squeezed a lot of chickens and milked a lot of butterflies and had a great time. It was wildly original, insanely detailed, really unique and was a gorgeous world. RIP Glitch!

    • RvLeshrac says:

      The music and art is fantastic, but yes, it just wasn’t really… fun… for long.

    • caustic says:

      I loved Glitch and played it a lot. The art direction was amazing, so were the game mechanics. Sadly posting this on RPS is pretty useless, people here are only intrested in big explosions.

    • cptgone says:

      i liked the game’s atmosphere, silliness and jokes. the game’s feel is unique IMHO.
      using the keyboard, i found it fun to run around doing combo’s, i enjoyed the rhythm of the gameplay that way. maybe some people used the mouse instead and were put off by consequence?
      i also enjoyed the game’s sound effects and visuals.

      nice of Tiny Speck to keep the game running a little longer. i’m thankful for the fun they brought, and hope they will somehow make it through.

  24. ShineyBlueShoes says:

    I’ve never even heard of this until earlier today and that right there is part of the problem.

  25. cptgone says:

    last chance to see:
    “since there are a few weeks left, please come and play a bit more — we’re releasing all kinds of things that we had saved up. Some of them are fully polished and others were still in development but, hey … now’s the time to get it all out there!”