Babylon's Fall was not a good game by most accounts: we gave the co-op action RPG a 45% in our review, and the best it could muster on Steam was 482 "Mostly Negative" user reviews. Still, its final update is a heartbreaker.
Just six months after Babylon's Fall came out, developer Platinum Games (one of our favorites, usually) canceled plans for large-scale updates and announced that, although it received many "enthusiastic messages of support," it couldn't keep the live service game online.
"Despite all of your support, we are truly sad and sorry to say that we will be unable to continue with the game's service," the studio wrote. "We hope you continue to enjoy playing Babylon's Fall until the service ends."
That was in September of last year, and although the $60 game went off sale at the same time, owners could still play it until earlier this week, when it shut down for good. Babylon's Fall doesn't show up in Steam searches anymore, but its Steam page (opens in new tab) is still accessible, which led me to discover the saddest patch notes post I've ever read:
Version 1.4.0 Patch Notes
- End of service
That has to be the worst update a game has ever received, right? Although, I suppose it does leave open the possibility that Version 1.4.1 will roll back the "game has ended forever" feature introduced by Version 1.4.0. One can always hope, however futilely, but I'm not sure anyone will: On average, only around four people were playing Babylon's Fall at any given time over the past month. The concurrents peaked at 31 players on Monday just before the shutdown.
Lots of players or no players, it's still a bummer whenever one of these online-only service games becomes unplayable forever. The potential for death implied by the term "live service" has become one of the key themes of the past five years in gaming: Anthem, Artifact, Marvel's Avengers, and an entire live service platform, Stadia, are among the most notable casualties of the era so far.
Platinum Games CEO Atsushi Inaba spoke a little about the failure of Babylon's Fall last year, saying in somewhat vague terms that there was discord between the game mechanics and the live service aspect.
"Providing any sentiment other than enjoyment and fun in our creations to players is something that we're not very happy about at all as a developer," he said.
Of course, when it works, it works: Destiny 2, one of the games that inspired this live service gold rush after it launched in 2017, just got its seventh expansion.