When the Matrix Online was first announced back at E3 2002, few could have foreseen the delays the massively multiplayer online role-playing game would face in the run up to release. The game was to be originally copublished by Ubisoft in conjunction with Warner Bros.; however the deal fell through in 2004 for undisclosed reasons. Ironically, Warner bought the game's developer, Monolith Productions (F.E.A.R.), that same year.
Work on the title continued, however, and at E3 2004 Sega announced that it would take over copublishing duties for the title before it was finally released in 2005. The story was far from over though because later that year, Ubisoft announced that it was leaving the MMO business and sold all rights to the game to Sony Online Entertainment.
Controversy continued to dog the game when Sony added in-game advertising, much to the lamentation of users, downsized the game world by two-thirds because of "a sparse population," and then finally tried to entice users back into the game with improved combat.
Now the long journey of the Matrix Online has come to an end. A post on the game’s forums yesterday evening has revealed the title is to be unplugged on July 31, after four years online. The cancellation of the game echoes the fate of many other MMOGs, including the six-years-in development Tabula Rasa, which launched in 2007 after several delays and barely made it 13 months. Namco Bandai and EA's single-player/persistent premium MMOG hybrid Hellgate: London also closed its doors after a year following technical difficulties and a weak public reception.
The Matrix Online team has promised an "end-of-the-world event" before the game closes shop, allowing players to "revisit all the things that make MxO the memorable experience it is."