An MMORPG that you've probably never heard of has just received a shutdown announcement in Fantasy Earth Zero. As someone who follows the MMORPG market fairly closely, it's weird that this game is so unknown, especially since it was released all the way back in 2006.
However, it turns out that I'm not that oblivious, because back then, it was released in Japan as Fantasy Earth ~The Ring of Dominion~, which asked for a monthly subscription. It then relaunched as a free-to-play game called Fantasy Earth Zero in the same year and was a much bigger success, reaching one million players in 2011. In May 2010, it launched in North America and shut down in March 2011, which would explain why the MMORPG is all but unknown in the English-speaking world.
Why is Fantasy Earth Zero shutting down?
While it's not said outright, a lack of population is almost definitely the answer, especially given this quote from the official announcement:
Although there are only a few left, the entire management team has prepared various plans so that everyone can enjoy it until the end, so we hope that you will continue to enjoy "Fantasy Earth Zero".
Basically, if there are only a few people left on the management team, that means the game wasn't making enough money to fund more developers. Ergo, the game's population is/was too low, meaning Fantasy Earth Zero is shutting down on September 28, 2022. While it's sad news all around, it's also been in operation for over fifteen years, which is an impressive achievement for any MMORPG, let alone an obscure F2P MMORPG that's basically been a Japan-exclusive the entire time.
As for what's happening between now and then, players can still expect events to take place between now and September 28th, with "various events, special battlefields, new weapons and armor, and refinements of the popular series" making an appearance. There's also a "Merfalia Festival" that's being held to thank Fantasy Earth Zero's players, which will hopefully be well attended. We'll see.
For more information on MMORPG's, Square Enix, and everything in between, stay tuned to TechRaptor.