Today, publisher Square Enix and developer Platinum Games finally did what everyone had been predicting from the start: they announced Babylon’s Fall will shut down within its first year. While I’m hardly surprised, it still sucks. People paid $60 for this game just six months ago, and less than six months from now it will completely stop working, despite previous promises to the contrary.
Babylon’s Fall, a frenetic dungeon crawler sporting a European oil painting art style, was terrible in many ways, but also had a few bright spots and the occasional fan. Despite being one of the worst games of 2022, some folks bought it and were still enjoying its baroque end-game loot chase. They’ll have until the end of February 2023 to keep doing so. A new post on the Babylon’s Fall website Tuesday revealed that’s when Square Enix will be shutting off the always-online action-RPG’s servers. While co-op dungeon runs were the heart of the game, single-player will still get shut down along with it.
“[I]t is with deep regret to inform you that we will be terminating the game’s service on February 27, 2023,” the team behind it wrote. “As a way of expressing our gratitude to all our players, we plan to implement as many events and other initiatives as we can, leading up to the end of the service.”
Babylon’s Fall will stop selling its paid in-game currency immediately, and all large-scale updates for the game have be cancelled. Season two will still run until the end of November, but instead of being followed by season three, players will just re-earn the ranking rewards from season two again.
“After the service ends on Monday, February 27, 2023 at 11:00 p.m. (PT) you will no longer be able to play the game,” the announcement confirms. “All gameplay data on the game servers will be deleted following the termination of the service.”
Despite bombing at launch, Babylon’s Fall’s developers were quick to reassure existing players that nothing about the game’s icy reception and dwindling player count would scupper their future plans for the live-service game. “No, there are no plans to reduce the scale of development on Babylon’s Fall,” they announced shortly after release.
Just a couple months later in May, that messaging changed. The game’s developers would now “re-evaluate” future content plans, probably in light of the fact that Babylon’s Fall was averaging fewer than a dozen players at any given time on Steam. It sounded like an ambitious attempt to overhaul core aspects of the game probably wasn’t in the cards. Maybe there wouldn’t be any more big cross-over content updates like the one with Nier Automota either. But simply keeping the lights on for the few dedicated players on PC and console seemed the least Square Enix could do. Apparently not.
The entire debacle recalls Anthem, another ill-fated attempt by an otherwise excellent studio to try to capture a slice of the burgeoning games-as-a-service market. BioWare’s Ironman-inspired loot shooter was, on many of the fundamentals at least, a much better game than Babylon’s Fall, but it still fell off a cliff when it came to delivering a complete experience, let alone meaningfully building on it in the weeks and months after launch. Initially, BioWare too appeared to be in it for the long haul, but EA later nixed those plans. Unlike Babylon’s Fall, however, Anthem’s servers are still up and running years later.
“The ‘always online’ requirement is keeping me from buying this game,” wrote one user on the Babylon’s Fall Steam discussion page back in April. “The servers will inevitably shut down one day, leaving a very expensive game unplayable. If it had an offline mode, I’d probably have already bought it. The player numbers are really low, the servers won’t last more than a year or two. It’s one thing to shut down a free to play game, but something that costs $60 plus—there should always be a way to play offline.”
Meanwhile, Babylon’s Fall is still selling on the PlayStation and Xbox stores for that exact price, though sales are expected to “draw to a close” in the future.
Update: 9/13/22, 9:06 a.m. ET: Added more information from the announcement post.