Bewitched: Salem Being Dropped By Paradox

Salem, the “boutique” MMO that mythologises the colonial era of North America, while terrorising players with nudity and permadeath, has been dropped by publisher Paradox. The game has spent a year in beta, and I have to admit that I haven’t made time to play it during that long stretch. That probably says something.

The game is not over, however, as the game is being handed off to developers Seatribe to do with what they will. Here’s the announcement.

Anyone actually play this?


  1. Hunchback says:

    I played it for 15 mins the other day, thanks to Ultima Online nostalgia. I actually didn’t have time to check it further, or i would have. But i am a sucker for slowly building a virtual house, hunting for skin and stuff like that… Damn, i miss my UO :(

    • bjohndooh says:

      Is it bad if I’ve actually considered going back to UO?

      There are a number of free shards.

      • Hunchback says:

        Ye, i’ve been there and back again countless times. UO is still great, but sadly it IS really damn very old now. It’s seriously ugly, but the biggest problem is the whole hero-movement based on tiles… Also, the lack of people to play with.

        I so wish someone would remake the exact same game, only with modern technology though…

        • seniorgato says:

          So many times I’ve thought about going back. So many times I’ve tried going back, but UO is just simply over. I still have the memories though.
          Didn’t even fiddle with fighting, I was just a fisherman making fish cakes. Had a little boat, mined on the side. Ran away from rat monsters and pks. Eeked out a tiny house. Sold fruit outside my house.
          Ah, memories.
          Went to a free shard where we had at most 15 on at a time. Widdled down to… just me. Rinse repeat on 3 other shards. *sigh*.

    • communisthamster says:

      link to

      Behold, Salems server population vs Haven And Hearths server population.

      Haven is the other game from these guys. It’s a lot better imo. They are returning to development of that, instead.

    • TaylanK says:

      Salem went directly into the developer-fanboy kool-aid feedback loop with the beta. There were quite a few players trying to give feedback about how un-fun the game was, but their voices were getting drowned among the usual “lern 2 play snark! Go play WoW.” trolling.

      Good decision by Paradox. Seatribe effectively saw to it that the game would not be played by anyone but a handful of die-hard griefers. There was no way Paradox was getting their money’s worth there. Still, I applaud them for having taken the chance with an indie studio.

  2. Dan Griliopoulos says:

    Yarp, played it for a while. Pleasant enough, but I never got any sense of the necessary community for its high-end features, and the low-end stuff has been done with more panache by Don’t Starve since it was announced.

  3. blainestereo says:

    I willfully ignored Salem because it is a homewrecker slut that diverted all its developer’s attention to itself from their previous sweetheart, Haven and Hearth. Which was rather delightful in its own strange way.

  4. razgon says:

    Its not a very interesting game, as soon as the gangs take over. While an interesting social experiment, its not something we haven’t seen in other games.
    I have been waiting for this to get dropped though, since it does not seem to line up with Paradox’s usual quality of games. (I know!)

  5. Niko says:

    Who needs Salem when Haven & Hearth is up and running again with around 1000 people playing? (Although this guy link to might disagree).

  6. ZephaniahGrey says:

    I played for a very short time. After a tiny snake slithered into my camp and killed me because I had NO way of defending myself at all. and snakes are, you know, likely to hunt and kill humans, I gave up. Can have more fun in less punishing environments. Also, I never saw another living being the entire time I played, so I doubt it has a huge following.

  7. Crosmando says:

    All MMO’s should be dropped, absolute cancer on gaming.

    • John Connor says:

      MMOs, MOBAs and that tower defense crap.

      • Liudeius says:

        Really? Just because you dislike a genre it is cancer?
        Just because something is usually done badly (or in the case of MOBA’s has a toxic community) does not mean the concept is bad.

        • The Random One says:

          I AM ALL

          • lowprices says:


    • Liudeius says:

      That’s not true.

      There is plenty of cancer within MMO’s. Busy work leveling which has been drawn out to hundreds of hours to make players stay on, skinner box reward models, “F2P” with exploitative microtransactions.

      But MMOs, Massively Multiplayer Online games, are not themselves the problem. There are things which can be done in MMOs which can’t be done anywhere else. Massively multiplayer gaming allows for extended social, economic, and competitive situations which can’t be done within single player, or even small scale multiplayer, games.

      What about something like Planet Side 2? Sure, there are elements of it which could be improved (and it does have excessively drawn out leveling), but there is no other circumstance in which you could have such massive battles with hundreds of players fighting over the same territory, coordinating tanks, aircraft, infantry, and support.

      While I’ve not played it, I presume EVE is a good example too. Players create coalitions and build actual in game businesses and economies as they battle over control of the universe. (Though that too has its faults, I remember hearing about that $70 cosmetic item which couldn’t even be seen since you stay in your ship all the time.)

      • Cinek says:

        ” Massively multiplayer gaming allows for extended social, economic, and competitive situations ” – Precisely a reason why MMOs have such a bad opinion. I have “extended social situations” every day – at work, home, during the meetings with friends. Meanwhile MMO fans make a holy grail out of it… and than in the end MMOs are nothing more than a games for jobless no-lifers who can spend hundreds of hours doing some “”social”” stuff in games. Jeez… get a life. It’s full of “social” already. A real social situations, not these in a very restricted game environment.

        • Liudeius says:

          By social I didn’t mean talking to people, I mean stuff like guilds and EVE’s coalitions where huge groups of players create alliances, enemies, and wars.
          In MMO’s you can create societies within a game, ones which can’t, or at least shouldn’t, exist in real life.

          • Niko says:

            Creating guilds, etc, usually require talking to people, though.

          • Liudeius says:

            Of course, but you can talk anywhere. I was trying to explain the reasons MMO’s are a valid genre; because they can do things which can’t be done in any other type of game.
            The social potential of MMO’s (not simply speaking, but making entire societies with players controlling every tier) is definitely something which distinguishes it from other games, even normal multiplayer where yes, you can talk, but you can’t do the rest.

        • Asurmen says:

          Person who plays computer games tells other people who play computer games to ‘get a life’ More about this shocking comment never.

          And you are aware that until recently, you needed a job to support most MMOs? As for your social critique. tell that to the quite a large number of people who have started a relationship due to the social nature of an MMO, or meet up every year for a BBQ due to a WoW guild (as I’ll be doing in the new few weeks).

        • Flopper says:

          LOL We got one of these losers! STUFF IS DIFFERENT FROM WHAT I LIKE SO I HATE IT RAWRRRRRRR! Comparing an MMO to regular life makes you sound like a moron.

          Coming on a comment section lecturing other people who also have jobs and real social lives like you’re the first person on earth to have either makes you sound like an even bigger moron.

    • lowprices says:

      Ooooooh, I didn’t know we could abitrarily declare entire genres a ‘cancer’ based on our personal preference.

      Personally I’m not a big fan of RTS games and Foot-to-ball. Soooo, Cancer?

    • trjp says:

      Would you care to explain how you view MMOs as a ‘cancer’?

      Cancer is a disease characterised by a failure of tissue to die – instead it continues to grow indefinately, causing tumours which consume resources required in other parts of the body – until the body can no longer support itself correctly.

      How have MMOs done this to gaming? What is it about a game with a persistant world and a lot of people playing alongside each-other which has had such a negative effect on games which don’t do that?

      or did you just use a strong word without really understanding it?

      • Stromko says:

        Origin Systems, Bioware, and every other once-great studio that bet it all on MMOs and stopped being known for anything else.

        The way you put it, the cancer analogy is really spot on. PC gamers are drawn in to these extensive skinner boxes and don’t have the time for games that are solid moment-to-moment experiences, while developers spend years making massive worlds, investing in server architecture and after-launch support. Then, the majority of major MMOs fail to achieve good enough numbers, with dire results for the developers especially.

        There is a lot of the potential in the genre, but it’s the rare MMO where the player wouldn’t be better entertained with virtually any other game. Potential is really what draws people to it; the uncertainty of the social dynamic, the delayed gratification of reward, and the ever-increasing numbers to reward their dedication.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      MMO’s are only a cancer on themselves for rehashing previous MMO’s hoping to ride their coat tails to success (all the WoW clones, etc).

    • vecordae says:

      That’s dumb. The vast majority of terrible games are single player. I declare singe player games a cancer that should be dropped!

      Also paying for games! And games featuring hip anthropomorphised forest creatures! And games where whistling is a core mechanic!

      I have gone mad with power!

  8. mrmalodor says:

    Kinda saw this one coming. I initially played Salem quite a lot when the beta started, but abandoned it because it got boring and the game was far from feature-complete. Today, it’s still far from that and the server population is tiny – no more than about 100 people during peak hours. The fact that development has being proceeding at a snail’s pace may have something to do with that. HnH’s population has now again skyrocketed over Salem’s, which speaks for itself.

  9. Gurrah says:

    I’ve played in the early beta for a day or two and couldn’t find anything that really grabbed me about the game, despite the developer videos from over a year ago being rather brilliant.

  10. Text_Fish says:

    Seems like a bit of a marketing failure to me, seeing how the last thing I remember about it was watching an early development video explaining the concept — and now I find out the beta’s been rolling for a year? They should at least try releasing a proper version and see if they can use the publicity spike as a springboard.

    • mrmalodor says:

      That’s what I was wondering too. They went open beta and still almost nobody signed up. Perhaps the information wasn’t getting out there properly. I probably would’ve never heard of the game, had I not seen those dev videos years ago.

    • frightlever says:

      Less a marketing failure and more just a failure. The devs had a vision for the game which only worked provided you didn’t let real people loose on it. In theory it was great. In practise it was endless ganking. Also, kinda dull.

      Haven and Hearth, sure, but also Wurm Online.

      • malkav11 says:

        Which, I gotta say, was pretty easily predicted from the moment I heard about this game. Interesting ideas and all, but open PvP invariably == gankfest, and adding permadeath to that mix? No thanks.

  11. Talesdreamer says:

    I’m not really surprised by Paradox’s decision. I played Salem during the early beta stages, it was boring, grindy and awkward. And the developers abandoned H&H for this game, even if they said they woldn’t. I’m glad players are returning there.

  12. mrmalodor says:

    As I’m writing this, there is a total of about 75 players on all three Salem servers and 800 players in HnH.

  13. AngoraFish says:

    Horrible, horrible game in nearly every way imaginable.

    • Shodex says:

      Not in concept. There are tons of great ideas in Salem muffled by awful execution.

  14. Luaan says:

    I liked the game. The only reason I quit (and it is the same reason I quite Haven and Hearth a few times) are the people. All that griefing, thieving and killing tends to get to most people. I think it would be nice if there was an enemy the players could fight against, instead of just animals. Not to mention that decent fighter characters are simply too strong for anyone who’s not a dedicated fighter. And such huge disbalance in PvP is very harsh in a (somewhat) perma-death world… Most of the people I know who quit HnH/Salem, quit after some crazy bastard destroyed our village, stole or destroyed everything in it and killed everyone online. Carebears? Maybe, but the crafting nature of the game is great for carebears, as is the exploration, and the interesting animals. Just having a no-PvP server, with GMs to handle disputes, would be a great way to attract many more players, IMO. I don’t mind the cut-throat world *that* much (long-time UO and EVE player :D ), but when the standard procedure is to have 10 alts to store all your good stuff, something is a bit wrong…

    • Niko says:

      What’s a really big flaw in mechanics is the fact that, say, 20 farmers with axes and scythes and slings still can’t defeat 1 armored warrior.

  15. neofit says:

    So it’s like Wurm, in a much uglier world, with FFA griefing and permadeath? buh-bye.

    • Shodex says:

      I miss Wurm, Wurm was so good. I remember when it went Pay 2 Play and it’s never been the same since.

  16. Ezhar says:

    I’ve played for a few days a while ago. I had a grand old time hunting rabbits, building a well organized base, planting crops, increasing my skills with a ton of crafted and foraged things and told all my friends to come play too.

    On day three another toon showed up, stunned me and slaughtered me in a few hits without saying a word and running off without even bothering to loot any of my precious stuff. After death, the game lets you “inherit” whats left of your belongings but all your skills are reset to zero, so you can’t even plant a carrot. Fuck that shit.

    Luckily the game did make me want to go back into crafting/building based games and Wurm Online had just launched a new server, where I’ve been playing again ever since.

    • sekullbe says:

      That story has completely destroyed any interest I might have had in playing this game, and I don’t think I’m far out of the mainstream in thinking this way. Call me a carebear, but a game where someone else can completely wreck your game – not inconvenience you, not cost you resources, but just trash everything you’ve done – is ridiculous. Especially when it neither costs or benefits them anything at all.

      How they ever thought that combining a rich, complex, and persistent crafting skill system with a population of armed psychopaths was ever going to be anything but toothpaste and orange juice I cannot tell.

  17. mrmalodor says:

    Here’s my idea of how they could completely redesign the game to make it more fun and attract a bigger audience:

    1) Keep permadeath.
    2) Make PvP optional. Let villages and their members mutually declare open war with other villages. PvPers would then have their fun and so would everyone else.
    3) Re-design the focus of the game so that meaningful PvE co-operation could occur.

    As part of the new design, players would need to drive away the darkness and its terrible creatures by constructing bigger, more advanced villages and building churches. They could study the creatures to become more enlightened. The most advanced villages would be more effective at removing darkness and could proudly display their names on some sort of scoreboard. Fighting and converting AI-controlled native tribes could also be an option, although it would be a bit controversial.

  18. nimzy says:

    This news isn’t very surprising. Salem was at best seen as Haven and Hearth’s poor cousin, and for good reason. The game is best viewed in direct comparison to its predecessor, with which it shares several features, but first, let’s start out with a sentence that, to me, describes Salem perfectly. “You get into a fistfight with a grasshopper and lose.”

    It’s one thing to have a game that’s opaque and rewards trial and error with genuine knowledge. Both Haven and Hearth and Salem were designed to be played with one eye on a web browser open to the game’s wiki. Then Salem took Haven and Hearth’s already complex and impossible skill and attribute system and made it even harder to progress. Coupled with the game’s obnoxious take on free-to-play, this made it almost impossible to build structures and generally get on with the whole “beginnings of civilization” thing the game is supposed to represent. Speaking of civilization, Haven and Hearth and Salem both suffer from skill trees that make division of labor impossible — and as previously mentioned, make surviving combat, especially against other players who have been around longer than you have, equally impossible. Salem’s transition to 3D from Haven and Hearth was a welcome break from the latter’s rather atrocious isometric view… Except Salem doesn’t really do anything with the third dimension. This feeds into the terrain generation, creating a harsh and unforgiving hellscape that looks like it has more in common with Scandinavian fjords instead of the gently rolling hills of Massachusetts. The whole premise of free to play is so you have a chance to figure out whether or not you would pay to play the game: in Salem’s case you quickly discover it’s just not worth your time.

  19. Smashbox says:

    I played this for a while when the beta began and:

    This is literally the most tedious game I’ve ever played, period. It was awful, grindy, arbitrary and unhelpful. Horrible experience.

  20. kwyjibo says:

    Saw the lead picture, thought, “oh, that’s a unique quirky style.”

    Watched a gameplay video, thought, “that’s a fuckload of ugly, hire a freaking artist.”

    • jorygriffis says:

      I hate posts about Salem because they mean I have to look at this fucking lead pic again. One of the most inept, ugly, all-around bad cartoons I have ever seen.

      No offense to the artist.

  21. Peptidix says:

    It seemed inevitable after the crafting MMO they announced apparently was nowhere near as important as the pvp trolling that seemed to be the mainstay, at least according to the forum.

    The original idea seems to be perfect for a well developed pve world, where people have to act together to do well in the environment.

  22. creakinator says:

    I played it, didn’t like it at all.