I've been thinking about this since the announcement occured and although I've already written my thoughts in a forum specific to topic I'm curious if they may have more weight in my blog where they are certainly less likely to get drowned out.
I've been an Uru fan since it's original debut over 4 years ago. I was quite upset with the original premature termination by a seemingly-panicking Ubisoft. I've retold that story a few terms, most recently as an aside in my thoughts on The Tragedy of Mythica. At the time it seemed obvious that Ubisoft had failed to give the matter due consideration: it seemed incredible that the project was canceled in essentially the 11th hour.
GameTap stepped in to resurrect the property, nearly three years after the original shutdown, and gave it an entire year to attract an audience, and stabilize as a platform. GameTap has recently announced that after this first year the company could not justify costs of Uru and that Uru would be shutdown.
I don't have any hard feelings this time, it seems like a clean break and an honest business decision.
Part of this is because I'm something of an [Adult Swim] fan. [as] has made a name for itself as being the home of a lot of niche (and some not so niche) comedy and anime programming, attracting mostly just the college student demographic, but making that work as a viable business decision. [as]'s comedy shows have been some of the most experimental/ludicrous comedy on television for the last few years, and amazing risks have been taken. (Cartoon Network/[Adult Swim] and GameTap are sister organizations within the Turner organization under media giant Time Warner.)
Part of this has come with something of a growing disappointment in development studio Cyan Worlds. At this point I've been treated to consistent, well-rounded episodic content from Telltale Games. On deck is American McGee's Spicy Horse promising 24 episodes of the twisted Grimm. American McGee's blog gives a definite sense of a strong, consistent development cycle for the episodes. Assuming that impression is correct and anything of a consistently fun game in each episode isn't hard. GameTap has at least found two content developers willing to commit to true episodic gaming and the associated deadlines. Cyan Worlds appears, to me as a player, to have been inconsistent in meeting content deadlines. I believe that with a TV background (where shows have always had tight content deadlines) it is quite possible that such milestones missed would be a huge concern to staff at GameTap, particularly when they have working relationships with game companies that are delivering on time. I have no idea how much of a factor that has been on the current decision, but it certainly seems a possibility to me that this would be a major concern.
In Cyan Worlds defense, they admittedly have been working on Uru with less lead time and a smaller budget than under the original deal with Ubisoft. But, I just don't think that Cyan has ever been a company for strict deadlines, preferring to focus on art and quality, and even under a larger budget with greater lead time I wonder if they would have met any sort of consistent content schedule.
I'll miss Uru, but I'm not anywhere near as interested in a second reboot, having seen this first one.
I am curious to see some final usage statistics and demographics from Cyan Worlds or GameTap. Not to question this business decision as I might have done with the Ubisoft cancellation, but more out of professional curiosity this time around. What could I expect in terms of playership if I can grab the Uru audience? It would certainly be interesting data to be able to take to a Venture Capitalist with a plan to do a game in "the Uru space". I think it could certainly be done for cheaper with a more consistent content development cycle, albeit with less focus on near-photo-realism, and I'd love to have the opportunity to build it...