When it was launched earlier this year, The Matrix Online was billed as the "Next Big Thing" in massively multiplayer online role-playing games. As it turned out, the only thing big about the game was the amount of money its developer, Monolith Productions, and publisher, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, lost on the project. In the wake of tepid reviews and even cooler sales--reportedly less than $100,000--the game was sold off to Sony Online Entertainment, the MMORPG-centric publisher of EverQuest II, for an undisclosed sum.
Now The Matrix Online's new landlords have decided to shrink their virtual realm by two-thirds. In a post on the official The Matrix Online Web site (which, still sports a "warnerbros" URL), administrators have announced that the MMORPG is being reduced from its current nine worlds to just three due to a sparse population.
"Recently, members of the community have noted that it can be difficult to find other players in The Matrix: Mega City," read the message to players. "The current level of population density can limit opportunities for socializing with other players which are such a key part of our worlds... [Therefore] on August 2, 2005, we will be merging the nine current worlds into three new worlds. This merge should help to increase the number of players on any world at any given time."
However, rather than shunt players into three existing worlds, The Matrix Online administrators have created three all-new worlds for them to explore. One will be hostile, while the others "will run under normal PvP rules." Players will get three new character slots on each world to which they can transfer their existing characters or create new ones. Administrators are assuring players that their "crew and Faction data will also be carried over to the new server worlds."
To compensate for the inconvenience, The Matrix Online players will be able to earn extra experience and currency for a limited time in the new worlds--worlds they will name themselves. "We're leaving it up to The Matrix Online community to name these new worlds," read the message. MO players can vote on a range of names at the game's Broadcast Depth forum until the end of day today.