Earth & Beyond (commonly abbreviated E&B or EnB) was a science fiction massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by Westwood Studios and published by Electronic Arts (EA). The game was released on September 24, 2002 in the United States. EA shut down Earth & Beyond on September 22, 2004.
Featuring three races: the Progen, Jenquai and Terran. The Progen are a genetically altered and advanced race. The Jenquai are philosophers that seek eternal life. The Terrans are the original humans. Each of the three races is descended from the human race on Earth, in essence they are all human. The game’s storyline takes place in the Milky Way Galaxy. The Progen, Terran and Jenquai are all uneasy of each other, but still manage to live together in peace. The Terrans are known for their extremely large corporations, such as InfinitiCorp and GetCo. InfinitiCorp is the manufacturer of the intersystem and intersector warp gates. The warp gates were originally created by the mysterious Ancients, an enigmatic and hyper-advanced race who had all but disappeared.
Rumors of the game’s cancellation became prevalent in early 2004. EA confirmed the suspicions in March 2004 by announcing that Earth & Beyond was to be discontinued the following September, stating that it would refocus on other projects. Earth and Beyond estimated they had up to 400,000 subscribers early, with 650,000 at its peak, and later showing continually lesser numbers. This can easily be attributed to the lack of advertising it suffered from and the opening of Star Wars Galaxies by Sony Online Entertainment. It has also been rumored that Electronic Arts wished to put more money into The Sims Online and turn that into a big marketing success. Not surprisingly after the March statement, the figures which had already dropped to just over 20,000 saw their most dramatic decline, which eventually lead to the cessation of Earth & Beyond on September 22, 2004. [Via Wikipedia]
However the community is still going strong. Players still want to play this game!! Dozens of YouTube Videos, hundreds of people on forms and multiple web sites are still singing the glory of Earth and Beyond. Almost 6000 people signed a petition to save E&B as EA was coming in for the kill.
So why isn’t EA listening? With the advances in computers in the last for years and the prices of bandwidth coming down you can’t tell me that popping up a server will really cost an arm and a leg. Hell just throw up a server, tell the people “We will NOT be updating this game, play at your own risk” and charge people like $7 a month for access. Even at ~3k of people that would more then cover the server, power, and bandwidth.
What to do if EA doesn’t want to pony up the server/bandwidth? Do what Microsoft did with it’s old MMO called Allegiance and release Earth and Beyond open source. Since there’s already at least 3 versions of an Emulator (at various stages of development) to allow people to play it EA could save itself the cost of anything and just allow the community to develop the game we loved to play. EA wouldn’t be losing out on anything, they would still own the copyright. But here’s a community of players bitching for almost 4 years about their game being dead. That’s saying something about the power E&B had over it’s players.. and the need for that type of game in today’s market.
So what’s the outcome if EA continues to ignore the pleas of the players? Continue to deal with a community fighting to save a game they love or wait for an Indie group to create the “Terra and Furthermore” game with all the next-gen MMO updates and lose out on a game that could blow WoW out of the water. There is/was no other MMO like E & B (and EVE isn’t like E & B) and there still SO much potential updates/upgrades that could be done to the core system to further the game and game play to make it into a game that will last longer then Everquest.
Above and Beyond all of that, either option is a win-win situation for EA and the players. The players get what they want, and EA gets some MUCH needed good PR.
Give the players what they want.. Give them Earth and Beyond.