Well, not really.
The thing is, even though I feel sad for Al’Kabor closing, I really can’t blame SOE. And believe me, I like to blame them for everything they do; it’s the safe choice most of the time!
So what we had was a Mac-only, time-locked Everquest server. Take the small fraction of gamers who use a Mac. That probably already removes 95% of all gamers. Probably more like 99% if you add consoles and all that to it. Hell, by now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Linux gamers had a larger share of the gamer pie. Of those 1%, take the people who would be interested in playing an MMO, but not WoW or EVE, the only other ones I can think of that have a Mac client. (caveat: I didn’t bother to check many games. I have a Macbook, but it’s from and mostly for work.) Instead take those who’d rather play something nostalgic: an Everquest, stuck in late 2002 and the Planes of Power expansion.
That doesn’t leave a lot of people.
Now, granted, SOE has other games in their portfolio that are wildly unsuccessful (Vanguard, I’m looking at you, with a weeping eye thinking of the things that could have been). Will they be in danger of being taken off life support next?
Not necessarily, because Al’Kabor had it even worse with the unfortunate combination of the Mac-Nostalgia-MMO-gamer target group. All the other SOE games I can think of have Windows clients. And as different as the code base is between them, at least they use the same operating system. If you have one tiny Mac game that doesn’t even produce revenue in an otherwise Windows-based shop, you pay an extraordinary amount of money for upkeep. You need Macs for testing, you need Mac programmers, all that stuff. Granted, a game that’s not gotten any content updates for more than 10 years only needs a minimal staff. Nevertheless, you still need to have someone to fix bugs or (when you talk about such a timeframe) keep the software compatible with OS updates. At some point SOE probably just had to cut financial corners somewhere.