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Mutable Realms is Lying to You

Heath Hindman

You might already know that Mutable Realms has announced that Wish has been cancelled. The game that was supposed to be the first "Ultra Massive Multiplayer Online RPG," called such for its ability to handle far more players on a single server than any other MMO, is dead. Let's put on our analyzing hats. How could this happen? Wish, at the time of its cancellation, was easily the most highly anticipated MMORPG release. With World of Warcraft and EverQuest II having already arrived on shelves, and therefore not being in the "most anticipated" running, it may not seem like much to say that about a game, but with others such as Guild Wars, Dark and Light, The Matrix Online, Mourning, Middle Earth Online, and a few other upcoming MMOs providing hype competition, being #1 could not happen without darn good reason.

And Wish had more than just one "darn good reason." The game's concept was amazing. With emphasis on live content and an overall feel unlike any other game, it certainly deserved the hype. But this is not a Wish review, so our focus is not just greatness of the game, but it is something we should keep in mind.

In any case, the game was cancelled after only ten days of open beta testing. Now, MMORPGs generally go through strenuous alpha testing, followed by multiple phases of beta testing in order to find all possible problems before release. Could ten days of open beta, which followed the alpha and two stages of previous beta testing, lead to the discovery of so many technical problems that the developers just decided to throw in the towel? Of course not; especially when you consider how many people truly loved the game, despite the fact that it was not even close to complete. However, Mutable Realms said this on the game's official website: "After careful consideration of all the facts and analyzing all the data which we have gathered from the Wish Beta 2.0 test so far, we have decided to cancel the Wish project." What facts? What data? There are bugs in every MMO–even the final products–but seriously, there's no way any show-stopping problems appeared in any of this nebulous "data" that would have justified canning the game. If there were, no one seems to have mentioned them anywhere. The most common complaint from players is about the use of point-and-click movement, which is not exclusive to Wish anyway.

The fact is there were no insurmountable problems blocking Wish's path to success. This is further evidenced in the letter Mutable Realms sent to the slew of fansites that demanded to know more details about the cancellation. In it, Mutable Realms says, "...even with the most optimistic projections, we could not possibly get enough subscribers for Wish so that it could sustain itself." Now we have borderline contradictory statements on our hands. First the reason was "gathered data," now it's "projections." Projections based on what? Surely these "projections" are not the "data" from the first letter. Why not (other than the fact that a projection is not data, by definition)? Because Wish had a very large, loyal following, with many fansites and active message boards devoted to following all the goings-on of Mutable Realms. The Beta 2.0 brought in 60,000 testers, most of which were happy with the game right off the bat. All of this came with no advertizing. Just think what would have happened with a few sales pitches here and there. The thing to keep in mind now is the fact that two separate stories has been given, with no attempt to connect the two. In a court of law, a person is usually lying when things like this come out of his mouth.

With all this said, let us temporarily shift our focus to another MMORPG by the name of Horizons. Horizons gathered a good bit of hype, promised an original experience, and looked like it would shake up the MMORPG world. Then, through apparent ball-fumbling of the development/maintenance team, a whole heck of a lot of people became upset and left the game. So many disgruntled ex-players created some bad word-of-mouth, thus slowing the arrival of ever-important new subscribers. So, not long ago, Artifact Entertainment filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

This is what Wish's makers were really afraid of. They were afraid of themselves. The game was solid, and only looked like it would get better. It had as good of numbers as you can ask for, especially considering the other MMO giants whose full versions were already available at the time. What really happened was this: Mutable Realms saw what happened to Horizons, Dragon Empires, as well as a few others, and then became afraid of their own work. They became afraid of failing to please the masses in the ways Artifact did. Had it not been for Artifact Entertainment doing things like promising content that would be in the game "soon" that didn't ever show up even months later made many players angry. Wish seemed to have a competent team behind it, but it seems apparent that what really lead to the game's cancellation was the team just not having the guts to enter the market.

Subscribers would have been there. The game would have had at least a moderately successful launch, with good word of mouth and overall quality leading to a steady flow of new players plus many subscribers staying in the game for a long time. Technical problems were nothing out of the ordinary; nothing arose that was beyond fixing. These plus the fact that we had the contradicting excuses earlier, which, as pointed out, generally points to both being false, mean that something more is behind the cancellation of Wish–something the developers will never admit. They were afraid of building up such a huge player base which was expecting so much, only to drop the ball. To Mutable Realms, it is better to never love at all than to love and lose. And so, rather than risk a huge loss that would surely be blamed on their own fumbling, the boys decided to call it quits and blame things that have killed other games. The company simply chickened out. Other claims are only half-truths. Mutable Realms is lying to you.

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