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EA won't be taking on League of Legends or Dota 2 after all. They've decided to cancel their MOBA Dawngate before it left beta.
"Today, I have the unenviable task of announcing that we’ve decided to stop development of Dawngate," said group general manager Matt Bromberg on the game's website. "I know this is disappointing news for our community, which has been so supportive and loyal. To all of you who have graciously given us your time and valuable feedback during our beta period, we’d first like to thank you."
Dawngate's closed beta launched about a year-and-a-half ago. EA opened the test up to all comers in May. Bromberg says that the game improved throughout the beta but not enough.
"Through that time, we’ve taken a lot of feedback from players and delivered lots of new features and innovations. And although the game has grown, we’re not seeing the progress we’d hoped for. This isn’t the outcome we wanted, but beta testing is about learning and improving, and ultimately, about making difficult decisions about how to proceed."
Players will get a chance to say goodbye at least. EA will keep the servers going for the next 90 days. They'll use this grace period to process refunds for any testers who spend real-world money on their microtransactions. Most of those refunds will be completed in the next 10 days, though.
Dawngate hews pretty close to the traditional MOBA formula. Two teams of five players fought each other with help from A.I. minions. They have to push down the lanes of the battlegrounds and wear down their enemy's defenses before finally destroying a final objective. Players can also explore the jungle surrounding the map to defeat A.I. enemies and progress their characters further.
The game did have some interesting features to call its own, though. Its battlefield had two lanes instead of the usual three. Instead of razing the enemy's HQ to win the battle, players must defeat an A.I. boss. At the start of the match, players could modify their character with different roles and passive bonuses. In most other MOBAs, a player's role in a match was restricted by their choice of character.
As Bromberg admits, though, the MOBA genre is "extremely competitive." League of Legends and Dota 2 are both firmly entrenched after years on the market. There's no shortage of challengers to their dominance. Recent entries include Infinite Crisis, Heroes of the Storm and SMITE. Any new MOBA would be facing long odds against so much competition. EA evidently believed that Dawngate wouldn't be able to beat those odds.
I wonder whether EA will take another crack at the genre some day, though. They have the money to muscle their way into any market. It might just be a matter of them finding the right developer and right vision.