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Economically Viable "Sandbox" MMORPGs?

BitterClingerBitterClinger Newark, DEPosts: 225Member Uncommon

Are there any sandbox MMORPGs, past or present, that were financially successful?  I don't care about how fun or interesting they were to play. I'm just trying to guage how many there are or were.  Also, this is not a bait thread.  I don't have a "zinger" waiting or anything like that.

I'm just looking for a credible list of sandbox MMORPG games (past or present) with a proven record of financial success.

Top Games Played in 2015: World of Tanks, Tera, World of Warships

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  • AzothAzoth montreal, QCPosts: 720Member Uncommon
    UO, Eve, Wurm Online and prolly a couple more
  • KerosienKerosien Kalispell, MTPosts: 56Member
    Wurm Online and EVE are the only things that coms to mind
  • RajCajRajCaj Lafayette, LAPosts: 693Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BitterClinger

    Are there any sandbox MMORPGs, past or present, that were financially successful?  I don't care about how fun or interesting they were to play. I'm just trying to guage how many there are or were.  Also, this is not a bait thread.  I don't have a "zinger" waiting or anything like that.

    I'm just looking for a credible list of sandbox MMORPG games (past or present) with a proven record of financial success.

    Ultima Online - While it's currently not in the same form as it was released, it's been a cash cow for Electronic Arts.  Their overhead is EXTREMELY low (in comparison to other subscription based MMOs) and still has a respectable following, considering the competition in the market.

     

    One could make an argument that the reason we haven't seen many sandbox MMOs is because of the high cost associated with modern 3D MMOs.  In order to recoup the money invested, the games have to appeal to a broader audience (mainstream themepark types). 

  • RajCajRajCaj Lafayette, LAPosts: 693Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by RajCaj
    Originally posted by BitterClinger

    Are there any sandbox MMORPGs, past or present, that were financially successful?  I don't care about how fun or interesting they were to play. I'm just trying to guage how many there are or were.  Also, this is not a bait thread.  I don't have a "zinger" waiting or anything like that.

    I'm just looking for a credible list of sandbox MMORPG games (past or present) with a proven record of financial success.

    Ultima Online - While it's currently not in the same form as it was released, it's been a cash cow for Electronic Arts.  Their overhead is EXTREMELY low (in comparison to other subscription based MMOs) and still has a respectable following, considering the competition in the market.

     

    One could make an argument that the reason we haven't seen many sandbox MMOs is because of the high cost associated with modern 3D MMOs.  In order to recoup the money invested, the games have to appeal to a broader audience (mainstream themepark types). 

    Forgot about EVE......if only it wasn't a ship avatar in deep space lol

  • XAPKenXAPKen Northwest, INPosts: 4,919Member Uncommon

    From what I've heard Darkfall recouped development costs, paid off Aventurine loans*, and possibly covered development costs for DF:UW.

     

    I'm not sure if that would be called economically viable, but it does seem to have generated a fair amount of revenue.

     

    * at very least kept the payments current.


    Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now turned Amateur Game Developer.  I don't Forum PVP.  If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.  Realm Lords 2 on MMORPG.com
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    I don't know if Uncharted Waters Online was financially successful, but it's done well enough for Koei to find it worthwhile to release a whole bunch of expansions for it, and they're still releasing new stuff as fast as ever nearly eight years after release.
  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,669Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Azoth
    UO, Eve, Wurm Online and prolly a couple more

    A Tale in the Desert

    Free Realms

    Vendetta Online

    Red Light Center (NSFW)

    Sociolotron

    Second Life

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • RefMinorRefMinor MyTownPosts: 3,452Member
    SWG made money for SOE, even with the licence fees to LA, it had several years bringing in 4m dollars a month.
  • BitterClingerBitterClinger Newark, DEPosts: 225Member Uncommon

    Financially Viable List:

    • SWG
    • A Tale in the Desert
    • Free Realms
    • Vendetta Online
    • Sociolotron
    • Red Light Center (NSFW)
    • Second Life
    • Uncharted Waters Online
    • Darkfall
    • EVE
    • Wurm Online
    • Ultima Online
    Blockbuster List (self-sustaining, self-expanding):
    • SWG
    • Free Realms
    • Second Life
    • Darkfall
    • EVE
    • Ultima Online
    Ok, so folks will probably argue with me on the separation of these lists, but some of the other titles from the first list can hardly pay their own upkeep. For example, Vendetta Online has a kickstarter for a possible expansion in 2013. So, while these games might be "paying the bills", they aren't able to generate enough revenue to hire new developers and add infrastructure.

    Top Games Played in 2015: World of Tanks, Tera, World of Warships

  • KnutCupKnutCup Hinton, ABPosts: 21Member
    Viable is a term that could have a few different meanings, Did DarkFall make money, you bet. Did they make enough to develop DF 2? NO, they have investers from Korea now. In their defence, they have a substantial building, and have employed a few people thru the years, HAHA could well be Greece's largest employer! not.
  • BitterClingerBitterClinger Newark, DEPosts: 225Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by RajCaj

    One could make an argument that the reason we haven't seen many sandbox MMOs is because of the high cost associated with modern 3D MMOs.  In order to recoup the money invested, the games have to appeal to a broader audience (mainstream themepark types). 

    That's a very good point.  So what is it about "sandbox" MMOs that don't attract a lot of customers?  I mean, it's not like all the people playing World of Warcraft or Guild Wars 2 thought to themselves, "I really like themepark games".  There must be something about the way themepark games are designed that appeals to more users.

    Are they easier to play or just easier to learn?  Is the "themepark" user base just more "New Player" friendly than sandbox players? Is it something else entirely?

    Top Games Played in 2015: World of Tanks, Tera, World of Warships

  • YaevinduskYaevindusk Ul''dah, CAPosts: 1,537Member Uncommon

     

    What you also have to consider is the source that is making such a game.  Most have been Indie titles, and when putting that into the equation there has been a massive amount of success with the Sandbox MMO genre as is.  Heck, even if you consider the large player run servers of Minecraft (minecraft itself) you see a love of pure sandbox games.

    Ultima Online was made by an Indie developer that was later bought by EA; if a game has a large budget behind it, it could do even more than what has already been shown by small budget companies and their great success.

    When faced with strife or discontent, the true nature of a man is brought forth. It is then when we see the character of the individual. It is then we are able to tell if he is mature enough to grin and bare it, or subject his fellow man to his complaints and woes.

  • LarsaLarsa NurembergPosts: 990Member

    As other posters already said, plenty of sandboxes are doing well from an economical point of view.

    The main difference is that the sandboxes don't get the millions of mainstream players, but then sandboxes also don't need the investment of 50+ million euros or dollars.

    I maintain this List of Sandbox MMORPGs. Please post or send PM for corrections and suggestions.

  • ShakyMoShakyMo BradfordPosts: 7,207Member
    Well eve.

    Then uo and swg back in the day.

    For the future, I reckon if a minecraft mmo ever got made that would be a huge success.
  • ShakyMoShakyMo BradfordPosts: 7,207Member
    Yaev

    Uo was made by origin, while they were owned by ea.

    The most successful indie mmos would be eve, daoc, Ao and maybe tsw if that's turning a profit now.

    I guess you could make an argument wow is the most successful indie mmo of all seen as they weren't with activision when they made it. But I reckon its a push to call blizzard indie.
  • aRtFuLThinGaRtFuLThinG MelbournePosts: 1,134Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BitterClinger

    I'm just looking for a credible list of sandbox MMORPG games (past or present) with a proven record of financial success.

     Success as in a high positive Profit/Loss ratio?

     

    Then I'll have to say Entropia Universe - it is basically a casino but it is in many ways a sandbox game.

    I think that pretty much what MMO comes down to if they want to make money - addiction. You'll have to make people addicted to the game. Sandbox tends to be more difficult to make people addicted, but people are always easily addicted to gambling and the possibility of making money.

     

    Look at EVE, the other financially successful mmo, you can make money off playing it, technically speaking, as well (though not to the extent of EU).

  • YaevinduskYaevindusk Ul''dah, CAPosts: 1,537Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by ShakyMo
    Yaev

    Uo was made by origin, while they were owned by ea.

    The most successful indie mmos would be eve, daoc, Ao and maybe tsw if that's turning a profit now.

    I guess you could make an argument wow is the most successful indie mmo of all seen as they weren't with activision when they made it. But I reckon its a push to call blizzard indie.

     

    I could've sworn Origin: We Create Worlds was a small studio that was bought out by EA after they already pitched the idea of Ultima Online.  It's a story I followed closely, albeit 15 years ago or so.  Though I guess memory fades after that amount of time if I'm wrong.

    Still, it wasn't a blunder and to this day is celebrated as one of the great Sandbox games; only goes to show what could be done (back in the 90s no less!) no matter which part is true.

    My memory might have been solidified (falsified) by a lot of the fan hatred of what EA "did" to UO after they "bought" them what with the frequent expansion after expansion and the implementation of Trammel.

     

    Here's what I managed to find online, since it is an old story.

     

    "With the publication of Ultima Online they attracted the attention of EA games, who saw potential in the game, going on to buy Origin Systems. Electronic Arts disbanded the studio after cancelling some of the upcoming games being developed by Origin."

    http://www.giantbomb.com/origin-systems/65-344/

    When faced with strife or discontent, the true nature of a man is brought forth. It is then when we see the character of the individual. It is then we are able to tell if he is mature enough to grin and bare it, or subject his fellow man to his complaints and woes.

  • GrayKodiakGrayKodiak Nada, FLPosts: 576Member
    Originally posted by Yaevindusk
    Originally posted by ShakyMo
    Yaev

    Uo was made by origin, while they were owned by ea.

    The most successful indie mmos would be eve, daoc, Ao and maybe tsw if that's turning a profit now.

    I guess you could make an argument wow is the most successful indie mmo of all seen as they weren't with activision when they made it. But I reckon its a push to call blizzard indie.

     

    I could've sworn Origin: We Create Worlds was a small studio that was bought out by EA after they already pitched the idea of Ultima Online.  It's a story I followed closely, albeit 15 years ago or so.  Though I guess memory fades after that amount of time if I'm wrong.

    Still, it wasn't a blunder and to this day is celebrated as one of the great Sandbox games; only goes to show what could be done (back in the 90s no less!) no matter which part is true.

    My memory might have been solidified (falsified) by a lot of the fan hatred of what EA "did" to UO after they "bought" them what with the frequent expansion after expansion and the implementation of Trammel.

     If you watch the video around the internet with the UO developers chatting they mention a lot of stuff they did at the start, that made it sandbox, gave them most of the headaches down the road. Hence you had the more tame version of UO that is out now. Unlimited items on the ground, never been copied and was a big headache for UO..but very sandbox. Housing was an issue in UO if you remember there were literally houses plastered everywhere in many cases more houses than trees. PK'ing was an issue they actually corrected, even though I thought it ruined some of the elements of what made uo great from a customer service standpoint I guess they thought otherwise.

     UO had to hotpatch an axe into the game so players could break the seige of trammel.....imagine today's audience...based on the MMORPG community...reaction to being stuck in one town for three days because of a PK siege with no way out....it would be incredible.

  • YaevinduskYaevindusk Ul''dah, CAPosts: 1,537Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by GrayKodiak
    Originally posted by Yaevindusk
    Originally posted by ShakyMo
    Yaev

    Uo was made by origin, while they were owned by ea.

    The most successful indie mmos would be eve, daoc, Ao and maybe tsw if that's turning a profit now.

    I guess you could make an argument wow is the most successful indie mmo of all seen as they weren't with activision when they made it. But I reckon its a push to call blizzard indie.

     

    I could've sworn Origin: We Create Worlds was a small studio that was bought out by EA after they already pitched the idea of Ultima Online.  It's a story I followed closely, albeit 15 years ago or so.  Though I guess memory fades after that amount of time if I'm wrong.

    Still, it wasn't a blunder and to this day is celebrated as one of the great Sandbox games; only goes to show what could be done (back in the 90s no less!) no matter which part is true.

    My memory might have been solidified (falsified) by a lot of the fan hatred of what EA "did" to UO after they "bought" them what with the frequent expansion after expansion and the implementation of Trammel.

     If you watch the video around the internet with the UO developers chatting they mention a lot of stuff they did at the start, that made it sandbox, gave them most of the headaches down the road. Hence you had the more tame version of UO that is out now. Unlimited items on the ground, never been copied and was a big headache for UO..but very sandbox. Housing was an issue in UO if you remember there were literally houses plastered everywhere in many cases more houses than trees. PK'ing was an issue they actually corrected, even though I thought it ruined some of the elements of what made uo great from a customer service standpoint I guess they thought otherwise.

     UO had to hotpatch an axe into the game so players could break the seige of trammel.....imagine today's audience...based on the MMORPG community...reaction to being stuck in one town for three days because of a PK siege with no way out....it would be incredible.

     

    I actually remember the credits on UO after booting it up on the first working day.

    "Twas the night before launch, and all through the game, not a damn thing was working, not even god mode"

    or some such.  xD

     

    Also, edited my prior post with a link to the Origin discussion.  

     

    I don't think anyone who played then would say it was a perfect game at launch, but it turned into a Jewel that was destroyed when the game was given land update after land update in expansion after expansion, splitting up the community.  Britain used to be full of people trying to sell their wares, but it became a ghost town after a while.  The economy was further attacked with the implementation of Magic Items and such, that pretty much made crafting less viable in a game where that's what it pretty much was all about (not the minor magic ones, but that really powerful ones a half decade or so after launch).

    When faced with strife or discontent, the true nature of a man is brought forth. It is then when we see the character of the individual. It is then we are able to tell if he is mature enough to grin and bare it, or subject his fellow man to his complaints and woes.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,669Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BitterClinger

    Financially Viable List:

    • SWG
    • A Tale in the Desert
    • Free Realms
    • Vendetta Online
    • Sociolotron
    • Red Light Center (NSFW)
    • Second Life
    • Uncharted Waters Online
    • Darkfall
    • EVE
    • Wurm Online
    • Ultima Online
    Blockbuster List (self-sustaining, self-expanding):
    • SWG
    • Free Realms
    • Second Life
    • Darkfall
    • EVE
    • Ultima Online
    Ok, so folks will probably argue with me on the separation of these lists, but some of the other titles from the first list can hardly pay their own upkeep. For example, Vendetta Online has a kickstarter for a possible expansion in 2013. So, while these games might be "paying the bills", they aren't able to generate enough revenue to hire new developers and add infrastructure.

    Yes, they have a Kickstarter. They also released within the past two years of their 10+ years of operation two new clients - iOS and Android. Acquisition of investment money is not an indication of lack of success. By your reasoning, EVE Online should be removed because they recently secured $20 million in investment funding.

    What is the data source you used for your division? It would be a lot easier to give you the answer your looking for if you got straight to what the post is actually about.

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,669Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by aRtFuLThinG

    Then I'll have to say Entropia Universe - it is basically a casino but it is in many ways a sandbox game.

    Good catch. I completely forgot that one.

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • GrayKodiakGrayKodiak Nada, FLPosts: 576Member

    I am not attacking UO, it was great...I was a shadowclan orc...good times.

    But I am using that as an example of why Sandbox might be a thing developers look at with a wayward eye. The more rope you give players, the more mechanics you put in, the greater the chance they do something with the system that you have to actively work to fix. Just more elements for murphy's law to play with.

  • ThorqemadaThorqemada BerlinPosts: 1,277Member Uncommon

    Entropia Universe is also viable afaik.

    "Torquemada... do not implore him for compassion. Torquemada... do not beg him for forgiveness. Torquemada... do not ask him for mercy. Let's face it, you can't Torquemada anything!"

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  • YaevinduskYaevindusk Ul''dah, CAPosts: 1,537Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by GrayKodiak

    I am not attacking UO, it was great...I was a shadowclan orc...good times.

    But I am using that as an example of why Sandbox might be a thing developers look at with a wayward eye. The more rope you give players, the more mechanics you put in, the greater the chance they do something with the system that you have to actively work to fix. Just more elements for murphy's law to play with.

     

    Indeed.  Though with larger budgets and more freedom a gem could really be formed, also considering there have been companies that have done it successfully without $100,000,000 in funds and Themepark MMOs that have had thrice that that still fell short of expectations.

    That one that nails it could have a very profitable game indeed.  But there's always that factor of risk... Though today, with so much Themeparks and attempts to make hybrids, it may be a risk just to make an online game in general.  Might as well go for it and get a following rather than take the road everyone else is going for possibly more costs as people tired of it a month after starting.

    I really want a game that lets you place stuff on the ground again.  A table, chairs next to the table, a plate on the table, food on the plate, a cup, wine, pouring wine in the cup... books to write in... etc.  Not sure how viable that is in the 3d space and on server stress.  There was a developer of WoW who said they thought about  that, but the technology wasn't available in the 3d space as they were making the game.

    Imagine thousands of players placing stuff down; some might even do so just to lag nearby players or the server itself.  I've even seen someone place like 200+ feasts down in Pandaria just because he could.

    When faced with strife or discontent, the true nature of a man is brought forth. It is then when we see the character of the individual. It is then we are able to tell if he is mature enough to grin and bare it, or subject his fellow man to his complaints and woes.

  • BitterClingerBitterClinger Newark, DEPosts: 225Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Loktofeit
    Originally posted by BitterClinger

    Financially Viable List:

    • SWG
    • A Tale in the Desert
    • Free Realms
    • Vendetta Online
    • Sociolotron
    • Red Light Center (NSFW)
    • Second Life
    • Uncharted Waters Online
    • Darkfall
    • EVE
    • Wurm Online
    • Ultima Online
    Blockbuster List (self-sustaining, self-expanding):
    • SWG
    • Free Realms
    • Second Life
    • Darkfall
    • EVE
    • Ultima Online
    Ok, so folks will probably argue with me on the separation of these lists, but some of the other titles from the first list can hardly pay their own upkeep. For example, Vendetta Online has a kickstarter for a possible expansion in 2013. So, while these games might be "paying the bills", they aren't able to generate enough revenue to hire new developers and add infrastructure.

    Yes, they have a Kickstarter. They also released within the past two years of their 10+ years of operation two new clients - iOS and Android. Acquisition of investment money is not an indication of lack of success. By your reasoning, EVE Online should be removed because they recently secured $20 million in investment funding.

    What is the data source you used for your division? It would be a lot easier to give you the answer your looking for if you got straight to what the post is actually about.

     

     

    Like I said, I don't have a dog in this hunt.  I really appreciate the link about EVE online. I figured them for "tens of millions" but not to the tune of $66 million in one year! My sources are usually the sites of the publisher or developers themselves, or financial sites that pop up in Bing/Google results.  If you feel Vendetta belongs with the "blockbuster" tier MMORPGs, I respect that; but I will stand by my post. The reason I stand by my post is because you're comparing a $20 million dollar investment by VCs who see a good investment to a $100K kickstarter that has only $20K of charitable contributions so far.

    Top Games Played in 2015: World of Tanks, Tera, World of Warships

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