It looks like some big changes are taking place at MMO publisher Turbine. Yesterday, a newly formed studio called Standing Stone Games revealed that it has acquired Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online, and that global publishing duties, previously handled by Turbine parent Warner Bros. Interactive, are being taken over by Daybreak Games. That was followed today by the announcement that after more than 17 years of operation, Asheron's Call and its spin-off Asheron's Call 2 will be shut down at the end of January.
"We're embarking on an exciting adventure as Standing Stone Games, a newly-independent studio staffed by people who have been working on DDO and LOTRO for many years," an announcement posted at LOTRO.com explains. "The teams remain very much committed to both games and are thrilled to continue development and operations of these games as an independent studio. This is an opportunity for us to bring about our dreams while still working on two of the biggest licenses in video games. It's a huge honor, and for you this means your games will continue to grow and improve. We love to focus on games with a high level of depth and scope, and we can't wait to show you what the future brings."
A DDO "transition FAQ" says it will be "business as usual" for both games, which will "continue along their respective development paths and bring you the content you enjoy." Login information won't change, nor will any owned Turbine points (although they'll be renamed), VIP subscriptions, lifetime memberships, or products purchased from the in-game stores. The games will continue to operate out of their existing data center, and "there are no plans to change servers in any way."
What has exactly precipitated the change is unknown at this point, but a Standing Stone rep confirmed that Turbine is no longer involved with either game. However, "the leadership and game development teams are the same groups from Turbine that have been working on LOTRO and DDO, and they are moving to SSG," the rep said. "The teams remain very much committed to both of these games and are thrilled to continue development and operations of these games as an independent studio."
Asheron's Call, on the other hand, will enjoy no such second life. "It is with a heavy heart that we must announce the end of our support for Asheron's Call and Asheron’s Call 2, and will close both services on January 31st, 2017. This decision did not come easy, and we know this is disappointing for many of you. This game is a labor of love, and it's not easy for us to bring it to an end," the farewell message says.
"We have had a phenomenally long run; one of the longest in the world of MMORPGs, and that in and of itself is a spectacular feat. We are proud of our legacy, and the entire Asheron's Call team has been honored to adventure with you for nearly twenty years. We thank you very much for being a part of it."
Until it closes down, Asheron's Call and AC2 will be completely free for all existing players, but new account creation has been disabled. I've emailed Turbine for more information and will update if and when I receive a reply.