The first few months of 2009 have begun to resemble a graveyard for massively multiplayer online role-playing games. At the end of January, Namco Bandai and Flagship Studios' first-person-shooter role-playing hybrid Hellgate: London was taken offline. The following month, NCsoft turned the lights out on Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa. Now, one more MMOG is in its death throes, as Ubisoft has announced that its fantasy online RPG Shadowbane will shut down on May 1.
"We come to you now with regret and sadness, but also happiness and pride," a Ubisoft representative wrote on the game's official Web site. "Regret and sadness that it has finally come to this and as of May 1, 2009, the Shadowbane servers will be powered down once and for all. Yet happiness that it lasted so very long, and pride to be able to stand before such a passionate community to thank you for your undying support and unwavering loyalty to Shadowbane."
Based heavily on player-versus-player online gaming, Shadowbane launched to mostly positive reviews in March 2003. After signing on to publish the title in 2001, Ubisoft eventually purchased the game's license and developer Wolfpack Studios. However, in 2006, shortly after revealing that Shadowbane would become a free-to-play, ad-supported venture, Ubisoft announced plans to close Wolfpack.
Many members of the defunct Wolfpack went on to form Stray Bullet Games, which was contracted by Ubisoft to continue supporting Shadowbane. The independent studio is currently at work on a new MMOG, rumored to be in development for the Nintendo Wii.