[from Massively] Shadowbane, the open Player versus Player (PvP) massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, is shutting down May 1st. It's always sad to see an MMO shutter its doors. I remember beta, and launch day: I played a little, but there were many folks at the office that were fairly ardent.
It is eulogized as having been stunted in growth by stability problems at launch: while true, it is also hagiographic.
Stability issues can doom an MMO, but Shadowbane recovered well enough. Really, it is the relentless PvP-centric design that kept it in a niche. PvP is vital to an MMO, but when it completely dominates all other mechanics, a large number of players will simply not be interested. The griefing that dominates the new player experience from the first few minutes in-game is simply not going to suit the vast majority of players that want to escape into an MMO for a while.
Coupling that with the positive-feedback loop of strong guilds coming to dominate a server completely, and you are left with a design that appeals to few, and ultimately doesn't deliver on the ideal of player-centric world change.
But those that did like it loved it. It survived on a core of players for six years, but ultimately, having tried several different business models, nothing was able to attract more folks to the ultra-Darwinian frenzy that was Shadowbane. RIP.