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Jagex and Hasbro have announced that Transformers Universe will be officially shutting down on January 31st, 2015. The shutdown procedures are currently underway as new accounts are no longer being processed and refunds are being handed out.
Over on the official Transformers Universe website there's an announcement about the game's cessation of operations. The decision supposedly has arrived as both Hasbro and Jagex are realigning their directions for 2015... and that direction didn't include bringing Transformers Universe with them.
As noted by the development team...
“The shutdown period will begin from today. As part of the winding down we will be refunding all those that have purchased a Founders Pack, as well as anyone that has purchased relic bundles and starter packs. These refunds should be all processed in the next 30 days. In addition we will be closing the ability for new players to make accounts, those of you that already have accounts will continue to be able to use them until the closure date. “
The post also notes that if you haven't received a refund by January 16th, 2015 you should contact a customer support representative.
I'll be honest, I forget that this game even existed. I remember it was sort of a big deal a while back leading up to its release, but I wasn't aware of its actual release. I guess people were either too engaged in playing the game to talk about it in any meaningful way or not enough people were playing to even care.
This marks another notch on the free-to-play belt that failed to prove sustainable in today's market. There's a lot of shifting trends happening in the gaming scene, a lot of it due to poorly built games on barely functioning platforms and the overabundance of DLC, microtransactions and in-app purchases. Over in Europe the consumer advocacy groups have been quite vigilant with getting involved with certain industry practices. There has been little interest or motivation by those in America to stand up for consumers when monetary practices are called into question.
As for Transformers Universe... it's impossible to know exactly what went wrong with the game from the very vague and brief post from the development team. Again, I didn't hear much about this game at all and it was so low-key on the media circuit that there was never any reason to check into it, kind of opposite of games like Transformers: War for Cybertron, Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.
It's hard to say if there were monetary disagreements between Hasbro and Jagex or if the game was riddled with all sorts of bugs and glitches and just proved to be another failed free-to-play title; I don't know.
There doesn't appear to be a whole lot of fanfare going off about the game, so it's unlikely that Transformers Universe will be missed all that much. It's kind of strange and sad given that the game was just introducing the founders program just as recent as May of this year, and yet it's already shutting down. The free-to-play/microtransaction bubble may be shrinking faster than some publishers thought.