On September 18th, 2013, in an email to registered players, Bigpoint has announced that they will be permanently shutting the down their ambitious (but troubled) online game Universal Monsters Online (UMO) on October, 15th, 2013.
The letter was as cryptic as Castle Dracula, as it only stated “We’ve given this a lot of thought and consideration and are sad to announce that on 15.10.2013, we will be discontinuing Universal Monsters Online.”
The rest of the email focused on their more successful title, Battlestar Galactica Online, “To show our appreciation for your support and dedication we would like to offer you an incredible starter package for our hit Battlestar Galactica Online.” This was followed by a description of the online game, which is based on the hit SyFy channel series.
With no details or explanations, fans rushed over to UMO's Facebook page to find a post giving additional details, “As you will have noticed during the past few months, there have been less and less players online to play with and no new features have been added to the game recently.”
Bigpoint continued that, “This is why we’ve decided to put more effort into the games that already have a large active fan base, and make them even more awesome with the resources we have.” Finally ending things with “Hopefully, you can respect and understand our decision.”
The game, which features Universal Studios classic cinematic movie monsters from the 1930s to 1960s, such as Frankenstein, Dracula and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, was first announced in March of 2011. Bigpoint explained that the browser based game was to be “a 3rd-person, multiplayer action RPG that weaves together the lore of all of the classic Universal Monsters into a single, cohesive game world rife with themes from the classic films”.
16 months later, Bigpoint launched an open Beta to the public with lots of buzz. The game itself ended up being a solid, free-to-play Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) with micro-transactions and in-game currency.
As with traditional MOBA games, UMO was split into matches featuring locations form the Universal Monsters universe, where two teams of five (10 players total) participate in action combat-based capture-the-flag style matches with the “flag” being a captured “damsel”.
For three months after their open beta launch, UMO received a big push, with lots of press coverage, interviews, and organized community play session; All of this led up to October 31st, 2012 and the release of three new monsters in time for Halloween.
After the three months of hoopla, the game remained in a perpetual state of “Open Beta”, with no updates, patches, or bug fixes announced during that time. Even the UMO Facebook page became void of any posts of updates between Halloween of 2012 and today’s cancellation, almost 11 months later.
As no additional press or updates ever came, eventually players started falling off, losing interest, or simply forgetting all about the game. With so few people on the servers at any given time, it became increasingly difficult to play a match, as it required a minimum of 10 players total. The time players had to wait for the system to find another nine players available on the server at that time became increasingly longer, and sometimes it simply couldn’t find enough players to hold a match.
Bigpoint is being extremely responsive to questions, comments, and feedback from the community via their Facbook page, where fans have civilly expressed their condolences, criticism, and regret over the lack of the game’s success.