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.