Tabula Rasa shutting down Feb. 28

Following Garriott departure, NCsoft's troubled MMORPG will join Auto Assault on sci-fi scrap heap in three months.

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This century, NCsoft is 0-for-2 with sci-fi massively multiplayer online role-playing games. (Unless you count City of Heroes/Villains.) More than a year after Auto Assault headed for the scrap yard, the Korean publisher announced its latest foray into the future, Tabula Rasa, is also being decommissioned. In a post on the game's official Web site, the developers behind the project today announced its imminent end.

"Last November we launched what we hoped would be a ground breaking sci-fi MMO," the post read. "In many ways, we think we've achieved that goal. Tabula Rasa has some unique features that make it fun and very different from every other MMO out there. Unfortunately, the fact is that the game hasn't performed as expected. The development team has worked hard to improve the game since launch, but the game never achieved the player population we hoped for."

As of January 10, 2009, Tabula Rasa will be free to play to its remaining subscriber base, much like the soon-to-be-shuttered Hellgate: London. However, as of February 28, the game's servers will be switched off forever. "We can assure you that through the next couple of months we'll be doing some really fun things in Tabula Rasa, and we plan to make staying on a little longer worth your while," the post concluded.

Though saddening to its subscribers, Tabula Rasa's demise wasn't completely unexpected. After going online last October one day before Hellgate's Halloween launch, the game struggled with a variety of technical issues and lukewarm reviews. Despite over six years in development--and several delays--the game never caught fire in the World of Warcraft-dominated MMORPG market, selling just over 61,000 copies in the US. In its most recent earnings report, NCsoft said the game--which cost a hefty sum to developer--accounted for just 2 percent, or $1.3 million, of its overall annual revenue.

Tabula Rasa's chief designer, Richard Garriott, went so far as to promote the game during his recent $30 million jaunt to the International Space Station. However, the writing appeared to be on the wall when Garriott abruptly resigned last week to pursue "new interests." In his departure message, the Ultima creator conceded the MMORPG's sailing had not always been smooth, saying, "I am very grateful to you loyal players for sticking around through what I think we can all honestly say was a rough launch."

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