Cities XL Loses MMO Thing, No Subs


Monte Cristo games have just issued a statement saying that the MMO element of Cities XL is going to be shut down:

“Three months after the launch we have to admit that the subscription rate is lower than what we expected and therefore the Planet Offer is not sustainable. Not enough players decided to subscribe. Therefore, it is with deep regret that we decided to put an end to the Planet Offer as of March 8th 2010. It will no longer be possible to subscribe to the game starting Monday February 1st 2010.”

The single-player game will continue to be supported with add-ons and patches be given a sequel, Cities XL 2011. There’s a detailed FAQ on the situation here.

Dave Tosser says: This should not be seen as a failure, because adding MMO aspects on to all games, whether or not it’s a good idea, is the responsibility of all profit-minded companies. Without a subscription model your game is just another backward looking product. And you know what they say: “profit makes even the fattest men even fatter.”

48 Comments

  1. the wiseass says:

    Oh man we need a Dave Tosser fan-club. Right next to the almighty Tei.

  2. coupsan says:

    Oh, Tosser, I think I’m going to like you.

  3. Meat Circus says:

    Dave Tosser is Barry Shitpeas’s best mate.

  4. HexagonalBolts says:

    Really? But it was such a brilliant model! And who could not love joint subscription fees with DLC? Or transport options not being included for free? I am mystified.

  5. qrter says:

    This I don’t get:

    It will no longer be possible to subscribe to the game starting Monday February 1st 2010.

    Why not stop offering subscriptions immediately?

    • Jezebeau says:

      So they can give people one last chance to pay to see the subscription content before they shut it down.

  6. Lack_26 says:

    Am I the only one utterly disturbed by D. Tosser’s RPS combo face, but I’m sure I’ll grow to love it, like a deranged mutant relative.

  7. Mike says:

    I love this. I love this so much.

  8. James G says:

    Wasn’t really following the details of Cities XL, so its possible they were charging ridiculous subs, or some other for of incompetence, but part of me does find it a shame that this failed. While I’m loathe to align myself with Mr. Tosser, I think there is some merit to playing around with what an MMO could be. I just hope that the failures of Cities XL were down to Monte Cristo’s own failings, and wont discourage other companies from considering something outside of the standard MMORPG. (Or indeed that other MMOs outside the MMORPG are always going to be commercialy inviable)

    Oh, and feel sorry for people stuck with only the single player game. I got the impression from what I did know about the game that the MMO aspect was the main thing going for it.

    • archonsod says:

      The subscription model was pretty reasonable. £7 got you a month’s subscription, and you were free to either buy another one or not when it ran out (your online cities wouldn’t be deleted, so you could simply subscribe when you felt like it, play for a month and then leave it).

      The real problem is a lack of reasons to subscribe. The core city builder (which is what I assume everyone was there for) is just as good in single player as multiplayer, so for your monnies all you really got was some Web 2.0 style community stuff and the ability to wander other player’s cities online.

  9. Dood says:

    Does that mean they’re going to release the “premium content” for free now? In that case I might even play Cities XL again.

  10. Ginger Yellow says:

    “I just hope that the failures of Cities XL were down to Monte Cristo’s own failings, and wont discourage other companies from considering something outside of the standard MMORPG”

    I absolutely agree with this. And it seems pretty clear to me that it was down to Monte Cristo. It was a pretty crappy game, with a buggy installer, which tried to rip off its subscribers. It would be insane to pre-judge other innovative MMO projects based on the performance of Cities XL. Unfortunately, as we all know, publishers can behave very strangely.

  11. Icepick says:

    A great idea, marred by the fact that every single time I tried the demo it was totally broken, which certainly stymied any interest I might have had in subscribing.

  12. clive dunn says:

    Oh come on everyone.. All together now….”WHAT A T…………….”

  13. Sergio says:

    Now is time for Montecristo to balance the single player experience: damned Omnicorp!

    And by the way where are my so anticipated gem?

  14. Drakkheim says:

    So how is it as a single player simCity fix?

  15. Ben Abraham says:

    @qrter They want to leave it open to the possibility of a last minute RUSH of subscribers to turn their fortunes around?

    • Blather Blob says:

      Could be they had already committed to renting the servers/whatever up until then, so want to try to offset the cost as much as possible by allowing subscription right up to the end.

    • qrter says:

      Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m in!

  16. James Allen says:

    $10/month for a chat room and trade with real people. And people didn’t want to pay for that? Weird!

  17. Gabanski83 says:

    I don’t get this Dave Tosser thing.

    Who is this international man of mystery and put-downs? Something off the forums?

  18. Jimbo says:

    I can’t even tell you how many times we (literally 100% of the beta testers) told them this subscription model just wasn’t going to fly, and how they either needed to find some more time to make a proper MMO, or ditch it and concentrate on making a stellar SP-only game. They could still achieve the latter, because there was plenty to like about CXL, it just needed more time and more focus.

    I feel like the real story here is that they sold a Lifetime Subscription version of the game and it’s been up, what, 4 or 5 months?

  19. Malibu Stacey says:

    Having never played the game I’m a bit puzzled by the linked FAQ. It makes tons of references to CitiesXL 2011 & refers to the current game as CitiesXL 2010. Are 2011 & 2010 completely separate games as in everyone needs to buy a new game to get all the stuff they’re promising or will 2011 be a freely downloadable incremental update/patch to the current game or will it be DLC or what?

    • Jimbo says:

      Yeah, I found that confusing too. I can’t figure out whether it will be a totally seperate game, or more like The Witcher Enhanced Edition release, where you could DL the new stuff free if you owned the original.

  20. K. says:

    Wait, so… Cities XL lost its online part due to lack of players… And at the same time UBIsoft makes online mandatory for all games?!
    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    Other publishers, I know, but still confusing considering Settlers7 is even kind of a city building game, too.

    • Durns says:

      You’re confusing DRM with an online game… (although the CXL online mode would have worked as DRM in a way I guess)

  21. aDelicateBalance says:

    Well… that was hardly surprising. My wife and I are both big city-builder fans, but there was no way we were going to pay a subscription and, considering that the SP game was so limited and broken (especially when I tried the demo). I’m still hoping someone makes a real successor to Sim City 4 before I die. I actually installed that again the other day and, although it looks a bit graphically dated now, it’s still a fine city building game that can keep my attention for hours. So, I’ll say again – I hope someone makes a decent “Sim City 5”, because I don’t want to have to make one myself.

    • Levictus says:

      If you like Simcity 4. I highly recommend checking there following websites:

      link to simtropolis.com
      link to sc4devotion.com

      Both these websites have enormous communities dedicated to extending simcity 4 beyond anything EA originally envisioned.

      In particular, look for these two mods:

      NAM
      CAM

      The first one introduced a framework for building all sorts of crazy transport system, from canals to crazy under ground networks.

      The second one increase the viable stages from 1-8 to 1-15 and generally encourages growth of high rise buildings.

      This makes the game so much more fun. Check it out, if you can!

    • Farewell says:

      Feels appropriate to slip in a link to the Opensource Transport Tycoon Deluxe project (OpenTTD):

      link to openttd.org

      This initially required you to have resource files from the original game, but they can now provide a free 3rd party replacement.

  22. Flimgoblin says:

    I liked the idea of Cites XL having extra social bits to it but then I saw it had an 8$ a month pricetag, the little I saw of it from playing the demo (visit other people’s cities, trade some vague resources that didn’t have _that_ much of an effect on your city) it was massively short of being worth a subscription, given you already shelled out for the game.

  23. terry says:

    This is interesting to read because more or less exactly the same on-the-verge-of-bankruptcy-due-to-lack-of-paying-subscribers scenario has been playing out for the last couple of weeks over at The Hunter, similarly saddled with a monumentally useless pay per month MMO component. Synchronicity, eh?

  24. Bonedwarf says:

    Well this is about as surprising as the Sun coming up this morning.

    I love how they’re not stopping subs NOW.

    I bet, like Tabula Rasa, I will be able to go to my local games emporium after this has shut down, and still find copies everywhere. Of course at least Cities HAS an offline mode. (All MMO’s should IMO. WOW is one of the best single player games ever made.)

    I still remember Future Shop here having the big collectors edition of Tabula Rasa on the shelf three months after the game shut down. (Now there was a dog of a game. Played it shortly after released and IMO with content, stability etc… It was still a good six months away from being ready for release.)

    • Guildenstern says:

      Whaat? Single player content in WoW is absolutely terrible.

  25. DavidK says:

    Shame.

    I didn’t think the online component was bad, it just wasn’t an MMO, and shouldn’t have been marketed and charged for as such. It was a social layer wrapped around a single-player game — kind of like Spore in some respects.

    To that end, if they left the chat servers up and kept the trade thing going, but ditched the (likely very expensive) server-hosted cities, then it would be a fine game. Just not a game worth subscribing to.

    • Jimbo says:

      How much better would it have been if it had a Spore-esque Building / Landmark / Road / etc. Creator and the Spore content sharing technology? I suggest ‘a lot better’.

      Will Wright should stop knobbing about with whatever it is he’s doing now and go make that game.

  26. BonSequitur says:

    Maybe it would have helped if they had a proper demo, instead of a ‘play for free’ offering that lasted about as long as a mayfly’s wedding night. Given how it was a game nobody quite understood without playing, and dropping $40 to try out something which you might also need to pay a subscription fee to enjoy was preposterous.

  27. hoff says:

    This is sad. I feel really, really sorry for them.

    But the game simply wasn’t that good. It seemed like a watered-down version of the most complex SimCity games, where all the fun and challenging micromanaging parts were done automatically. Plus the MMO model is seriously going on my nerves.

    Can’t say I was surprised. :(

  28. Archonsod says:

    @ Bonedwarf:

    They actually stopped the subs a couple of months ago. They’ve only had the “one month for $8” deal for a while now, which they’ll stop of Feb 1st (presumably so you’ve got the chance to pull your city down or do whatever other last minute things you want before the servers shut down).

    From the sound of it, they’re switching to a DLC model instead with the first one being free to ex-subscribers. Not sure where it’ll go in the future but I’m hoping the GEM’s are still on the horizon.

  29. Luther Blissett says:

    The only benefit of the Planet mode was the ability to trade with other users and every time I tried it – that was broken. As a city builder the game is OK – but they certainly need to ditch the Omnicorp. Perhaps the single player could have AI cities to trade with – that might allow it to stand up to Sim City 4.

  30. Teek says:

    I really like this. I was just playing the game over the holiday break (I can’t bring it with me to college since my laptop won’t run it) and while I think it is a great single player city building game (also, the only recent city building game) but the damned trading system was ridiculous, and the multiplayer component was just not worth the money. It’d be nice if, somehow, they managed to reincorporate this as a free component. I can’t see any way that a city-building game could legitimately ask for a subscription fee.

    It was a good try though.

  31. RogB says:

    dave tosser reminds me of the glory days of C4’s Digitiser. MrT, snakes, zombie dave…

  32. SlappyBag says:

    I played the beta and immediately could tell the online mmo side was crap. There was absolutely no need for interaction with other players or other players cities, there was nothing driving you to interact. Basically you paid for a little chat box to appear. I quit the beta after the developers wouldn’t listen to the bunch of us that knew it was going to be crap and that nobody would subscribe.

    Nevermind, I think it could of been really bloody good.

  33. Tei says:

    The MMO interaction on the beta was somewhat like “Upload your savegame to a server”, but that server was almost always (to me) offline.

  34. KBZ says:

    Unfortunately the MMO part wasn’t the only thing that sucked. After playing for an hour it was pretty obvious that 90% of the game’s workings (companies going bankrupt because they’re missing 1 (ONE) employee was a good start) should’ve been reworked completely.

    And 10 bucks says they still haven’t learned anything.