Richard 'Lord British' Garriott still wants to make Ultima Online 2: 'All we need now is to buy EA'

Ultima Online key art.
(Image credit: Origin Systems)

As the very successful launch of New World last year showed us, there's still a big appetite for new MMOs these days, even if the heyday of the genre feels behind us. But what about a sequel to a classic? The father of Ultima, Richard Garriott, still wants to make a follow-up to what was arguably the first MMO, Ultima Online, but so far hasn't had much luck.

Spotted by GamesRadar on Twitter, Garriott pitched a brief vision of what a new Ultima Online could be like, with "original-ish PvP rules", but where the developers would do a better job of "protecting the innocent" and "encouraging folks to embrace the danger of straying from the path of safety".

On top of that, he's also keen to bring back singleplayer Ultima. The only thing that's stopping him is that he doesn't own the licence. EA has locked up Ultima in its vault, though it's not languishing entirely. Ultima Online is still live, currently under the stewardship of Broadsword, the same studio that will soon be taking Star Wars: The Old Republic off BioWare's hands.

He has pitched the idea to EA before—several times in fact. "I repeat the process every 5-10 years. They start saying 'good idea', then end on, well, no, after some internal review, we can't or won't."

It's not a surprise. Despite still publishing a couple of MMOs, a risk-averse publisher like EA isn't likely to take a punt on a very expensive MMO in 2023. And while I would be thrilled to see Ultima Online 2 appear, I can understand EA's hesitancy given that Garriott's last two MMOs were far from successes.

Tabula Rasa shut down after only two years, while Shroud of the Avatar—the Ultima Online spiritual successor—never really found its footing. The assets and rights were sold to another studio, Catnip Games, in 2019, after Garriott had already stepped down as CEO of the original developer Portalarium.

So while Garriott is an important figure in the history of RPGs and MMOs, his influence has dwindled significantly, releasing only a single game in the last decade. Ultima's name doesn't hold as much weight now, either, though I suspect a lot of MMO players my age would absolutely lap up a sequel, especially now that the kind of unfettered PvP that Ultima Online featured is so much rarer.

Don't expect to see Ultima Online 2 get announced, then, but who knows? Maybe Garriott will wear EA down, or come up with a pitch that it can't ignore. Weirder things have happened!

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.