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Blaseball is closing down and some staff are being laid off

"The cost, literally and metaphorically, is too high"

Blaseball, the supernatural baseball browser-based betting league that became a brief social phenomena in 2020, is closing down. Its developers The Game Band announced the news yesterday, writing that the cost of running the game, "literally and metaphorically, is too high." An undisclosed number of staff are also being laid off.

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"It is with a heavy heart we announce that we are not going to run the Coronation Era as planned and are making the decision to end Blaseball today," begins the announcement.

"The short of it is that Blaseball isn’t sustainable to run. Since Blaseball’s inception, we’ve been fighting against the amount of work it takes to keep Blaseball true to itself while financially supporting the team and keeping our staff healthy. We’ve tried countless solutions to make it work, and we’ve come to the conclusion that this fight isn’t one we can win in the long run. The cost, literally and metaphorically, is too high. So we are making the decision to end it here instead of changing Blaseball into something unrecognizable.

"Part of this loss is many of our incredible team members," it continues. "Our team size has to change to give us enough runway to even begin to make something new." Those laid off will be given "severance, healthcare extensions, and job search resources" to help find new work.

As a game, Blaseball was fairly simple: you signed up via its website, chose a team, and bet in-game currency on the results of matches. What made it different was its rich fiction, including teams such as the Charleston Shoe Thieves ("Your kicks are my kicks") and the Baltimore Crabs ("Claws up!") and players such as Jessica Telephone and Blood Hamburger, and the supernatural twists that allowed for wild rule changes, voted for by Blaseball players, between seasons.

What made Blaseball special was the way the audience took that evocative fiction and ran with it, creating social media accounts for teams, drawing fan art, making fan music, inventing new slogans, and turning Blaseball into the most fun thing happening on the internet while we were all in lockdown. Alice0 highlighted some of the best fan art, and Alice B briefly immersed herself in its storylines.

At its peak, Blaseball's collaborative, internet-native storytelling felt like the future. It was the most fun, creative fandom in video games, wrapped around a live service game that was nimble enough to react to its playerbase almost in real-time. After the flurry of early attention in 2020 however, it seemingly never found a business model that made sense. In 2021 The Game Band secured funding, reported to be $3 million, to continue telling Blaseball stories, but it has now reached its end.

Today - and arguably at any point - Blaseball is probably best experienced via its wiki, where you can poke through its rich history. There you can read about how the Baltimore Crabs became the first (and only) team to win three championships, and thus ascended in Season β10, after which they faced off against and were defeated by a "singular large rotating peanut" known as The Shelled One.

"Thank you to everyone who has been a part of Blaseball," concludes the closure announcement. "We are sorry, and we are devastated. As for what comes next, we’re planning that now. We hope that one day in the not too distant future we can bring you something new that brings us all back together."

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