Knockout City Shutting Down – What Happened?
Knockout City was announced back in Nintendo Direct 2021. Since then, it’s captivated players with unique mechanics and challenges. However, earlier this month, Velan Studios announced Knockout City shutting down. It also talked about the last season.
That’s right. The upcoming 9th season will be the last update for the title. This news feels devastating after similar announcements from Apex Legends. The industry appears to recede in the live gaming market.
But, what really happened? Velan Studio takes pride in its innovative approach to game development. So, is this a move to redirect resources to new developments? Well, it’s not that simple.
Earlier today, GameSpot published an interview with the developer. In the feature, they reveal what really happened behind the curtains. It also sheds interesting insight into the gaming industry. It’s not all good, though. But, it’s an important look nonetheless.
So, let’s dive into the reasons behind the shutdown. If you need a pick-me-up after reading, check out Darkest Dungeon 2’s latest news!
Knockout City, a name in a larger list of dying games
The sudden announcement caught everyone off-guard.
In the original blog post, Velan Studios stated that the 9th season will be huge. But, the real reason is that it’s being the game’s farewell. Curiously, the post shares some interesting views.
According to Velan, the game had several areas “in need of major disruption.” The game enjoyed over 12 million users in its lifetime. Yet, the developer doesn’t seem too happy with that number.
Thus, they mention a need to step back and improve the game. That isn’t possible with the game being live. As such, there comes the need to shut down the servers. Yet, they do talk about using this chance to improve the game and future titles.
Still, I wouldn’t hold them to that. The entire post’s tone is still a bit of a downer. And, it does say, and I quote, “the end of Knockout City.” So, all that talk about improving the game might be sugar-coating.
However, Knockout City is far from the only bad news this year. A bunch of other games also announced their shutdowns. We’ve got Apex Legends Mobile and Marvel’s Avengers as the largest. But, CrossfireX and Rumbleverse also announced their departure.
Overall, these announcements paint a grim picture of the LiveOps industry. Anthem and Evolve are also shutting down. Even Harmonix’s Fuser joined the list. Sure, those aren’t particularly recent announcements. But, they add to recent developments.
Plus, GameSpot’s interview isn’t very uplifting, either.
The reason behind Knockout City shutting down, an interview
The interview opens with Jeremy Russo, game director, stating it’s his favorite game. He’s repeating the same statement from the video above. But, let’s dive into the real highlights of the interview.
The chat dives into live service game analytics and how to improve. That’s where the truth came: metrics. Player retention seemed to be the main issue. They enjoyed a solid core community. But, many of the players came and went. That hurt the retention rate. And, that translated into an unsustainable business.
Knockout City shutting down despite its player count also sheds light on a big issue. The live service industry might be an “all or nothing” deal.
Knockout City managed to amass a huge number of players. So, it definitely overcame most of the challenges of many other titles. Yet, it failed to round up the numbers from other titles, like Fortnite.
In other words, the game was a huge success by most standards. That said, it didn’t meet the standards set by industry giants.
And, that sheds a worrying truth of the live service gaming industry.
What does Knockout City’s shutdown mean for players and the industry?
Wtf are we doing here man. Knockout City can't survive??? Literally some of the most fun I've had in years.
— Blessing Adeoye Jr. (@BlessingJr) February 3, 2023
The free-to-play market is a huge challenge for smaller developers. The market has moved toward making free-to-play a requirement. And, you need a considerable jump start to make it in the market.
According to Russo, the industry might evolve from there. New models could surge from player dissatisfaction with current dominating games. And, tackling these business models early could be a huge advantage. Part of Velan Studios’ plan is to act on their ideas of where things could go.
However, one thing is certain: the industry is nearing a tipping point. Developers will need to figure out a solution. The multiplayer-focused side of indie development has to find a way to surge.
And, we can see this struggle in the live service industry. The majority of games that shut down last month ran that model. And, you can find countless people complaining about the model on forums.
Featured image credit: Nintendo & Velan Studios.