A big, big loss: farewell to Gigantic, the moba-shooter from Starcraft’s lead designer

gigantic

The cosmic ballet continues: just as MOBAs replaced MMOs in the popular consciousness, now battle royale games are flavour of the year, and sadly that, together with general multiplayer market saturation, means casualties.

Not even a week ago, Epic’s MOBA/shooter hybrid Paragon faced the axe, and now that same is true of Gigantic. Motiga’s monstery multiplayer game was another lane-runner/face-shooter combo, and one whose development was lead by ex-StarCraft lead designer James Phinney. If you want to have a ball with it, you’ve got until July, when it’s walked off into a shady place forever.

Here’s the rub of it, according to Motiga in their shutdown announcement:

“Discontinuing Gigantic was not an easy decision. The game is a unique and exciting experience that captured many hearts and minds. Unfortunately, it did not resonate with as many players as we’d hoped.

“Over the last several months, the teams at Motiga and Perfect World looked into viable options to sustain Gigantic. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to find an impactful solution that would help Gigantic break through in a crowded market.”

Crowded it is. Despite my noting above that the multiplayer zeitgeist currently lies with Plunkbat and the growing legion of battle royale games, for the likes of Gigantic and Paragon, the problem is more likely a pincer movement from established moba giants LoL and Dota 2, and the similarly character’n’unlock-led shooter Overwatch.

Untold gazillions of people might play multiplayer PC games these days, but most of ’em want to go where the most action is, which complicates the market supporting as many big-budget offerings as we might think.

In poor old Gigantic’s case, the free-to-play, 5v5, monster-starring affair has clocked up less than two years, or less than one if you discount the beta and start from the full launch. It made at least one dunderheaded mistake in the early days, tying itself exclusively to the unloved Windows 10 store for the seven-month duration of its open beta, thus starkly limiting its ability to build up buzz.

But, I guess-o-speculate, the real problem was simply standing out when there was a sudden glut of games with similar concepts and somewhat Blizzardish art styles. I’ll admit, even I’d conflated Gigantic with Paragon somewhat, and I’m supposed to be a professional games-knower-abouter.

Today’s news is not exactly a shock, however, seeing as publisher-owner Perfect World laid off many of Motiga’s staff back in November, as well as very sadly closing Torchlight dev Runic.

This month’s update is to be Gigantic’s last, but servers will remain online until July 31, at which point the door closes forever. Starting now, real-money microtransactions for virtual currencies have been disabled, and the entire hero roster made free. You can still earn virtual currency in-game and spend it on other unlocks, however.

You can grab the free-to-play game from Steam or Perfect World’s Arc thingy.

31 Comments

  1. funky_mollusk says:

    I know these are all words; but I do not understand these words.

    I guess I am old. Ah well. Back to Subnautica for me…

  2. Shadow says:

    No surprises here. Everyone wants to cash in on the (not so) latest fad, and eventually many misjudge the market’s tolerance for yet another entry.

    It’s hard as it is to make and sustain an online-only game. Harder still when you’ve picked an increasingly saturated niche.

    Happened to MMOs, it’s happening to MOBAs and will happen to not-Plunkbatters.

    • Premium User Badge

      Dios says:

      Is it saturated, though? Only LoL, Dota and HotS remain, basically. Everything else has died. I really wish there was a better alternative to all of these, but i guess the MOBA genre is doomed to slowly stagnate, shrivel up and die. Dawngate could have been the start of the next MOBA generation, but it was just another EA victim in the end.

      • Ur-Quan says:

        You say that as if having three thriving multiplayer games in one genre isn’t already pretty big.

        Aside from FPS and MMOs I don’t know a single other genre that can support that many multiplayer games over many years.

        • Premium User Badge

          Dios says:

          Hmm, “HERE ARE THREE PRE-APPROVED GAMES, I HOPE YOU LIKE ONE” seems like a depressing baseline to me, especially when compared to the plurality of games on offer in other genres. But you may be right that there’s no way to avoid this for these “lifestyle” multiplayer games. Of course, this could be alleviated if way more people played games. Why are we not letting girls into our pillow forts again?

          • MrUnimport says:

            That’s kinda naive. If there’s one thing the last couple of years has proven, it’s that as the market expands, winners win bigger while losers continue to languish in obscurity.

      • Shadow says:

        It is indeed quite a lot. And they all draw massive audiences. Well, mainly LoL and DOTA. It’s a wonder there’s even room for three giants, considering we’re talking of a sub-sub-genre, a derivative of a mod of an RTS.

        The market for Clonebats is likely just as small, and after this boom they’re having, most will fall. It may even be smaller, considering that niche is “hungrier”, requiring large playerbases maintained over time since the matches themselves are 10 times (in Plunkbat) as big as a MOBA’s.

  3. Ghostwise says:

    Selling on the Windows 10 store when you need network externalities ?! MS must have signed a really big cheque…

    • Evan_ says:

      It’s good to hear that if left the Windows Store after seven months. It may mean that I’ll play Sea of Thieves one day afterall.

  4. Godwhacker says:

    Pity, looked a bit more fun than the others, and certainly less generic- no healer character with angel wings, for example

  5. LordCiego says:

    Game was good but shooting and connecting hits was very unsastifing, half the time I didnt know if I was hitting my targets or not.

  6. Ur-Quan says:

    I honestly didn’t even know this was out, yet.

    I was really interested in it during the beta days, but the Windows 10 store limitation made me wait for the full release.

  7. Carra says:

    Ten years ago, everyone wanted to copy WoW. Everyone failed. When are the publishers going to learn?

    • Megatron says:

      Literally never. There will always be sheep, and when it comes to devs and publishers watching other people making fortunes they’ll all drift in that direction, looking to be part of the next “gold rush”. It happened when console gaming took off (“The PC is dying!”). It happened when Facebook gaming took off. It happened when Minecraft took off….

      Nature of the beast, unfortunately. And now I’m off to sink a bottle of bourbon and cry myself to sleep.

    • fish99 says:

      There isn’t an infinite number of good new ideas out there. It’s probably the hardest bit of game development.

  8. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    Pixies lyric headline, ftw!

  9. Megatron says:

    .

  10. Megatron says:

    Hello. This is a comment. Feel free to ignore it, though. :)

  11. Freud says:

    You need to reach critical mass with multiplayer games. Having it as a Windows Store exclusive wasn’t helping.

    • 111uminate says:

      Yep. That decision left it dead in the water. It never recovered.

      • Shadow says:

        Call me cynical, but the business could’ve been all about that, Microsoft’s payment. And then, keep it running at minimum costs until it’s just not profitable.

        All multiplayer-only games have expiration dates, after all. Milk the cow while it’s able, and then kill it.

  12. Artist says:

    The moment they showcased their awkward art design I knew this game would faceplant rather sooner than later. Either they had the wrong target group or missed it by miles.

    “General multiplayer market saturation”? Wheres the proof of that? Facts, sources please? I still remember that myth when when WoW was released and every analyst was way off.

    • Jingermanoo says:

      What, in your opinion, was wrong with the art design? Have otherwise seen it universally praised and was a major draw for some players.

  13. RadicalHorse says:

    One of the worst games I ever played, I installed demo version, it asked me to create an account like many other games, but it wasn’t game account, it was account to my windows. After that I was forced to enter password every time I turn on my computer, previously it would log in to desktop without any input.

    • April March says:

      That was probably the Windows Store, not the game. I’d be very worried if a game reset my Windows password!

  14. Avus says:

    I honestly have no hard feeling that another “Games as a service” game get shutdown. This is another example to counter those suits in EA and others that think single play games not making (enough) money.

  15. Moraven says:

    Fun game. Gave it a few weeks of playing around its official launch, but I was back to Plunkbat for my multiplayer time.

    I wish they would turn it into some sort of Citizens of Kabuto style of single player game.

  16. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    Aw, buns. It did look like a neat take on the old 5v5 dealie. I was considering giving it (along with a couple other games) a whirl when I burned out on MMORPG, but another game took hold which ended up in a state of limbo similar to Gigantic’s, prior to this announcement. I’m kinda tempted to give this a go during its last hurrah, now…

  17. syllopsium says:

    Another online only game with no plot has failed. How sad, what’s for tea?

    I know running games as a service makes them easier to access, and that setting up servers is non trivial, but it wouldn’t actually hurt if companies released the server as well so that people could play games privately.

    Free to play, though, so that would eat into selling pure margin items really essential to either playing or unbalancing the game in a player’s favour.

    Oh look, still no sympathy.