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Meridian 59 developer closes doors

Near Death Studios announces closure as MMO fails to grow community

Near Death Studios, the developer behind ageing 3D MMO Meridian 59, is to close its doors following a long-running lack of support for the title.

After its relaunch, Meridian 59 "never really grew" said one of the game's developers Brian Green who, along with Rob Ellis, purchased the rights to the game from The 3DO Company in 2001.

The game, originally developed by Archetype Interactive, was first launched in 1996, and is credited as the first 3D massively multiplayer game. In 2004, Near Death released an expansion complete with new rendering engine, which offered a range of enhancements to the game and to its Doom-based visuals.

"We had hoped that M59 would be the springboard to other successes," Green wrote on his blog.

"We focused a lot of effort in getting M59 launched. Most people were amazed we were able to launch an MMO with just a handful of people. Other said that 'of course!' we could relaunch M59, since online games never really die; I still find that humorous given how many online games have slipped into oblivion."

Ultimately though, the game never really grew, said Green, despite attention from the press and its small, dedicated fanbase.

And the situation worsened when a massive upgrade to the client was superseded by the coinciding launch of World of Warcraft then, later, when the studio lost its billing provider.

"The killing blow was losing our billing provider," said Green. "We no longer had a credit card processor for subscriptions. We talked to another company, but after several months of false starts they told me they were dropping the project since they had sunk so much money into it without result. Which is sad, because they didn't tell me that anything was wrong until they just dropped it.

"While deciding how to handle the situation, it was decided that closing down the company was the best option."

He assured fans that Meridian 59 will continue running, but not as a commercial venture under Near Death Studios.

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