Sci-fi MMO Firefall is shutting down today

Firefall

Firefall [official site] – the sci-fi, jetpacky, free-to-play, fight-the-Chosen-and-reclaim-the-Earth MMO – is shutting down today (7 July). The announcement came via a post on the game studio’s website on Wednesday and notes that although the PC iteration of the game is ending they’re now working on a mobile version.

“With heavy hearts, we regret to inform you that after much review and analysis, Red 5 Studios have decided to suspend the Firefall efforts on 7th, July 2017,” reads the announcement. “Thank you for being an important part of the Firefall experience and for your loyalty and dedication to the online community.”

The rest of the announcement is only brief but suggests players from the PC version of Firefall will find some kind of acknowledgement of their effort/time/loyalty when the mobile project launches:

“Your efforts and loyalty will not go without recognition, however. Firefall is currently developing a mobile version of the game and all of Firefall’s founders and players will be rewarded greatly in the new game. We will be sure to provide everyone with more updates as we have them.”

Firefall is/was free-to-play but had a bunch of paid-for packs as these games often do so I’d guess offering some kind of reward for that in the new game is an attempt to mitigate bad feeling and maybe attract a playerbase to the new format. After all, mobile is a massively crowded marketplace.

I’m not sure how I’d feel about that though – mobile is so different from a PC MMO the promise of a reward might just feel so divorced from Firefall as to be meaningless.

ANYWAY. We haven’t actually written about Firefall in three years. When I mentioned it in the RPS Treehouse this morning though Graham says he was really excited about the launch trailer back in the day:

“I remember the reveal trailer being really exciting. World of Warcraft + proper combat. Taking dropships across huge open MMO worlds. Using thumping resource gatherers to trigger fights. Borderlands hadn’t become a thing yet and Destiny wasn’t around, so an MMO with decent combat seemed exciting.”

Adam also remembers Jim being excited.

I wasn’t paying attention to the game at the time and so I’m piecing together bits and pieces from reading comments but it sounds like a project which was promising and exciting but the execution was kind of patchy when the game itself got into the hands of players.

There then followed a bunch of changes, layoffs at the studio, Mark Kern being removed as CEO, anonymous employee complaints about working under Kern, the ongoing bad blood between Kern and the studio which rears its head on Twitter from time to time, more reported layoffs and financial issues like missing payroll on Christmas Day in 2015.

An oft-repeated refrain in the comments on Firefall’s demise is players pinning hopes on Kern’s persistent online shooter Em-8ER, which is in development at the moment. I imagine the Firefall news won’t exactly hurt Em-8ER’s prospects, although the closure will affect whether players’ involvement in Firefall can be traded for Em-8ER virtual currency if/when that game launches. Having had a brief skim of Em-8ER’s site it sounds like Kern’s positioning it as an oasis for fans who wanted whatever the original vision for Firefall was and which didn’t materialise: “While Em-8ER is not associated with Firefall or Red 5 Studios, we are in many ways Firefall’s spiritual successor.”

That game seems to be doing funding in rounds over on Indiegogo, asking for a bit of cash at a time for various elements.

Picking through the recent Steam reviews which aren’t part of the now-familiar wave of protests at bad news it sounds like that game itself has been in a sad state for a while – neglected and buggy, just about limping on.

The paid-for packs for the game are actually still available on Steam so obviously avoid those unless you’re bizarrely keen to get some kind of unspecified expensive nod in an unreleased mobile project????

But yes. Servers are going off today.

Let us now stand for the official RPS anthem and pay tribute to the passing of a game.

54 Comments

  1. ran93r says:

    I was a founder, even got some physical rewards. Obviously I had high hopes.

    What we got was a very small, tempting snippet to start with and then the changes started rolling in, some you could swallow, others not so much.

    It’s a shame, it certainly had potential but the development, even before Kern was ousted, seemed all over the place.

    • Unclepauly says:

      Same thing I thought when I tried it. I wasn’t a founder but I was hyped for the game(still am lol), 1st chance I got to play it and all seemed well until I progressed just a bit. I quickly found out there wasn’t much to progress to.

  2. Sakkura says:

    Seems pretty ridiculous to shut down an MMO with 2 days warning.

    • Premium User Badge

      Biscuitry says:

      It’s not a lot of official warning, but the writing has been on the wall for a long time. I remember checking in on the Firefall subreddit last year and seeing that the prevailing opinion was that the only reason the servers were still up was that there was no one left to turn the lights off.

      • Mara says:

        Basically this.

        I tried the game for the first time a few months ago, ran into a bug in the tutorial blocking progress and found out that this was CONSISTENTLY HAPPENING, for all new players, and had been for months.

        • Premium User Badge

          frumious says:

          Amazing, this was my experience way back when it was first released: got stuck in the tutorial, logged off forever. Might not have been the same bug, but if there’s one thing you’d expect to be well-tested (every single player has to go through it!) it’s the tutorial.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Captain Narol says:

    The MMO market is amazingly darwinian at the core.

    Accelerated natural selection, survival of the fittest.

    • Unclepauly says:

      If you look at the game that way you could say the game was one of those “failure to thrive” preemie babies. It wasn’t fully formed at birth so never had a chance to begin with. I always apply Darwin to things that actually have their faculties and ability to compete, like two full grown lions and one dies in a fight. This game would have been an almost stillborn lion kitten

  4. Slabs says:

    I wonder who gets custody of the big stupid bus?

  5. karnak says:

    I shouldn’t probably be voicing my opinion here, since I’m not a big MMO fan to begin with (had my time with Ultima Online back in the day, but that was it), but that’s why I think it’s a waste of time and resources from the devs to create something which sooner or later is destined to fail and almost certainly never to be played again.

    “The Elder Scrolls: Arena” is still played today by some people, Yet, who will be playing “Elder Scrolls: Online” in 2037?

    Sorry for the rant, folks. I’ve been ranting too much lately.
    Old age…

    • Xerophyte says:

      Well, I mean, not to be an arse, but why? “Must be around for X years or is inherently worthless” seems like a high barrier to entry for any piece of entertainment, even rubbish manshoot MMOs. Are concerts and theatre also off the table? Hell, even “The Elder Scrolls: Arena” will be meaningless when the last atom decays as entropy wins in the end.

      I don’t think permanence is any more a requirement in video games than it is in, say, pen & paper RPG campaigns. It’s okay to spend time on making a good game — or even a slightly rubbish game with an absolutely ridiculous marketing van — that’s entertaining for a while and then goes away. You’ve still made the world a slightly happier place, which is about the best any of us can hope for.

      With that defense of ephemeral entertainment made: I also sure do wish that online-oriented devs were more careful about conservation. It seems like there should at this point exist some sort of museum or similar that could support/prod devs to work on conservation efforts of significant games, since right now we’re in the middle of a massive chunk of them being permanently lost to history. This matters no matter what your views are on games-as-art, any anthropologist will tell you that if 10 million humans spent 2009 sinking their evenings into “World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King” then “World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King” is pretty significant for understanding humanity in 2009, even if it’s not art and is just a game with a title that is immensely silly.

      • theblazeuk says:

        People do still play DnD first edition. Wars have been fought over those editions.

      • karnak says:

        I see your point. I really do.
        And trust me: if there was a way by which MMO’s could be kept “alive” indefinitely (by some sort of necro-servers or whatever) then I would agree 100% with you.

        But, speaking as a guy who’s been playing videogames for more than 30 years and who’s also an art historian (and yes – videogames are indeed a form of Art), I have to say this:

        If you had the choice to:
        (A) – Spend 500 hours creating a good painting that would be kept safe in a museum and be seen and enjoyed by people for generations to come…

        or

        (B) – Spend 500 hours creating the most beautiful sandcastle ever built on a beach. Yet that same sandcastle would be completely destroyed after 2 days of tides…

        If you choose option (B) I’d recognise and appreciate your effort. And say that you’d be known in history for making the best sandcastle ever (which would only be known through photos by the younger generations).
        Yet I’d call you a retard.

        • Splyce says:

          And yet, there are devout monks that spend days, weeks, months, creating exactly that, the most intricate mandalas that are completely impermanent. I realise this is an opinion thing, but lots, and lots, and lots, of art isn’t permanent. None of it is in the end, and many attempts have, and everyday are, made to examine the very concept of impermanence. That we exist in an age where large chunks of our experience are floating point operation, 1’s and 0’s and exist in code none can even read, I think speaks to the need for this.

          Not to say, that if you’d call anyone a “retard” for spending their productive energies how they please, your opinions have already lost any relevance to me and many others, but, man, you just sound dense, and as someone who.is an “art historian” you seem to have a very narrow view of what should be created, and how.

        • Unclepauly says:

          The art historian calls people retards for short lived art. Kinda makes sense.

          I wanted to add that 99.99% of art will one day decay. The most permanent art(if considered that) that we know of is megalithic structures from thousands of years ago(stonehenge, pyramids, etc.). Only because they are made of stone which doesn’t naturally break down like everything else. In thousands of years most of what we know will be gone, but those stone structures will still be there looking the same lol. I guess those are the only real art(eye roll inc)

        • poliovaccine says:

          Youuuu definitely sound like an art historian. And not an artist…

    • -Spooky- says:

      Hm. Ultima Online is still a thing too. Even in 2017. Gameplay over fancy graphics.

    • poliovaccine says:

      I totally get your impulse – I hate receiving food or a dinner out as a gift, because it’s just gone at the end, it’s so transient – but I recognize that’s not rational too haha.

      But nothing is permanent. How many books have been forgotten by time and obsolescence? How many societies?

      Creative people dont make things because they hope theyll still be standing after the apocalypse or anything. For creatives, making it IS the goal, THAT is the fun part. So it’s hardly a waste from their perspective.

      But to me, it’s more upsetting to imagine that one day there could be societies on earth who have never heard of the great *books* of our time by the great people of our time, like Dostoevsky, or Bukowski…

      Anyway, look at Runescape. It’s been around so long that it’s been forced to become almost a different game than it was when it started. I dont play it so I dont know the mechanics, but I’ve seen how much theyve changed the assets and animations. Basically, it lived so long it was forced to adapt. *Nothing* lasts forever. If you have trouble keeping that in mind, well, that’s why we have psilocybin!

  6. Premium User Badge

    Captain Narol says:

    Btw, you know the last joke ?

    WOTC is planning to launch an Action-MMO in the world of Magic.

    I don’t give it 2 years before it close down… Magic and Action-MMO are the worst match ever.

    • April March says:

      I remain constantly surprised that WOTC thinks people care about the world of MTG beyond that fact that it is the world that appears on the pictures of the cool card game they like.

  7. Stardog says:

    Huge scam game. Form a team of vets, use them to get millions from investors, pay yourself tons in wages, and try to keep the game alive as long as you can.

    link to shacknews.com

    • Kapouille says:

      Star Citizen! ** hides **

      • Unclepauly says:

        ~*Star Citizen Defense Force*~

        SC may very well end up half finished like FF but it remains to be seen. That is all.

        • Danarchist says:

          I popped back in to SC for the first time in…well a year or so. Squadron 42 STILL isnt finished, and there are not many noticeable changes, unless they were hidden from those of us not in the loop.
          They did have new ships you could buy though, and for a small percentage the cost of a real life car!
          If it is ever actually finished I will stop calling it a scam.

  8. kwyjibo says:

    This was the first MMO-anything I ever played. I regret to say that I was sucked in by the +1s to sink 100 hours into what is a mediocre grind of a game.

    Did it have any sort of fan base? Why would you trust or invest in Mark Kern’s next game? MMO-action games were kind of unique when Firefall first came about, but there’s Destiny, Warframe and Anthem now.

    • Unclepauly says:

      This one had jetpacks in the tropics.

      Also I’m pretty sure Destiny and Warframe aren’t mmo’s. Not sure about Anthem, but it doesn’t look like an mmo either

  9. gulag says:

    Hugely promising start followed by round after round of redesign, roll-backs and general wheel-spinning that eventually stripped the game of much it’s unique appeal.

    I mean, there were more features and modes in the game in it’s 2nd and 3rd years than it has today. Baffling.

    The new Bioware game Anthem seems to pick up where Firefall is leaving off. Let’s see where that goes.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    Huh. With all the hype from Extra Credits, FireFall was supposed to be the model of MMO game development.

    • Chromatose says:

      I see a lot of people bigging up Extra Credits as a really authoritative source on games development and the industry at large, but I’ve never been able to get past the twee cartoons and squeaky voices they use in that show; and the subjects they covered seemed rudimentary at best. Are there any particularly good episodes to seek out? Anything I’m missing?

      • Premium User Badge

        Don Reba says:

        I stopped watching it after the “all math is based on faith” Religion in Games mini-series. It was often insightful, but I don’t think of it as auhtoritative anymore.

      • April March says:

        It’s really silly to dismiss Extra Credits because of the twee cartoons and squeaky voices when it just a little more effort you could dismiss them because they are not very good.

        I followed them back when they were in the Escapist, many aeons ago, and stopped watching when I realized that they knew less about game than I did. They made a lot of small errors, like saying that games are a unique artform because they are interactive (which means they don’t think reading a book or looking at a painting is interacting with it, and possibly don’t know architecture is one of the classic arts) but the final straw was when they made an episode about the relationship between publishers and developers that was actually very good and explained its subject matter quite well, but ended by giving some suggestions on how to improve the relationship between them by basically saying “maybe everyone should strive to treat everyone well!” I was quite surprised to learn, a few weeks ago, that it’s still around, and I’m quite surprised to learn, just now, that it’s considered an authorithative source.

        I’d recommend them heartily to someone who wanted to learn the basics about gaming as an industry,as a culture and as an artform. They’re great videos to kickstart that path – the twee cartoons and squeaky voices actually help out there. But if you want actual analysis even your average shouty youtuber is often more knowledgeable.

  11. terves says:

    I remember this game solely for the devs considering their PvP to be so bad that they removed it from the game entirely during open beta, even though a lot of promotion on the game was PvP-focused. I wonder if they ever added it back.

    • Baines says:

      They focused a lot of development on their PvP as well. That was rather frustrating for players, who were largely drawn to the game because of the different experiences (compared to other titles) it offered in its PvE setting.

      Which pretty much described Red 5’s management of the game. Firefall got attention because it was so visibly different, but Red 5 spent their efforts trying to turn it into another mediocrely generic title. First they focused on the PvP esport aspect that no one outside of Red 5 actually wanted. Then they started tuning out the PvE elements that made the game different. Then they redesigned the game right before its “full release” with the openly announced goal of making it more like other MMOs, with stuff like carving the previously open map into small level-gated areas (you could still go anywhere, but you were effectively punished for playing outside your designated area) and adding in a bunch of time-sink run-long-distances-back-and-forth missions and the like.

  12. Foosnark says:

    I had moderate fun with it for a few weeks. People were saying the game was all but dead, and I thought it was the usual gloom and doom that happens on literally every MMO forum ever.

    Then they redid literally everything that affects game balance and progression, had multiple consecutive days of downtime, made a mess of the conversion process (which was kind of inevitable really), pretty much ruined some characters and never were quite able to clean it up before I got bored with it and left.

  13. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    That’s a shame, although I hadn’t played it in some time myself. Really liked Kern’s original organic-world vision for the game, but sadly it didn’t seem likely to come to fruition with Kern at the helm. Didn’t like its reinvention as a more classical MMO with grouping up (rather than just helping out other players you came across) and raids and so forth as much, so ended up dropping it.

    Incidentally, I got an email from Kern a while back asking if I wasn’t interested in that new project of his. I’m buggered if I know how he got my email address though, can’t help wondering if he’s been a little bit naughty with data protection or something.

  14. EkoAzarak says:

    Firefall is a fantastic MMOFPS. its core gameplay is just really really good. Mismanaged overall, definitely. But its a fucking awesome game and in the hands of a better company, it would thrive. I am hoping that someone buys it and gives it a proper launch. Hell, i would even pay a subscription to it because its that good. maybe Firefall’s biggest problem was that it was TOO GENEROUS. sell weapons skins, etc. please relaunch it.

  15. Glentoran says:

    I remember playing this for a good few months in beta back in mid-late 2014. I had a blast, but it all got a bit samey after the initial excitement. Thing is, it had so much potential. A proper combat-shooty skill-based MMORPG was what many people were screaming for, myself included.

    Very sad that it was left to decay in the way it did.

  16. Sin Vega says:

    Not exactly devastated, but I did have a decent time with one of its very early free weekends (pre-release I believe, when I was on a largely futile “maybe MMOs aren’t shite” kick). The playerbase were remarkably pleasant at least for a while. Never got round to giving it another go when it was done. Shame really, it had some neat ideas.

  17. Greg says:

    “Your efforts and loyalty will not go without recognition….” Hmmm… I think the whole article is about the FACT that player’s efforts and loyalty HAVE GONE without recognition.

    You don’t wake up on Wednesday, spam a “closing up shop in 48 hours” message out of no where. Nope, typically these kind of things are planned months and months in advance.

    So basically the developer banked most of profits from the PC version into making a mobile version knowing months ago the PC players were indeed wasting their money and effort.

    I’m going to guess that “recognition” is code for some mobile in-game currency or unique skin designed to lure in the same lot of players that fell for the PC pitch.

  18. SaintAn says:

    It wasn’t an MMO. Please learn what MMO means.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Many Moaning Olds

    • poliovaccine says:

      Earnest question: I see your comment, and above somewhere someone said Destiny and Warframe are not MMOs, which I’d always thought they were (and which was a large part of why I never paid them any mind)… basically, if these things arent MMOs, what *is?* Like I say, I’m asking in earnest here. I dont play MMOs, I developed a huge aversion early on, when they were always subscription-based (I thought that was crazy, cus I could just go home and play Morrowind…).

      But I always thought an MMORPG was a “massively multiplayer online roleplaying game,” which would make an MMO a “massively multiplayer online” game, just without the RPG elements. Which seems to describe those games, so far as I know…?

      How do those games work that makes them different? Is a single player experience actually viable after all? Or rather, what makes a “real” MMO?

      Or am I straight up missing a joke? This is how confused is me.

    • po says:

      You obviously never participated in a devs vs players event. So many people in one place I was getting 4fps on minimal settings, with an i7, 32GB, and a GTX 690.

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