Let's say that you have a boat. The boat has a hole. If the boat takes on water faster than you can bail it out... you have to swim away or drown. A game gets the attention that it can afford. The more popular the game, the more development it gets. If a game gets no support from the players... the game bleeds out and development stops.
Artix Entertainment has been around since the launch of AdventureQuest in 2002. In that time we have produced a LOT of new games, mobile games and minigames, but they have not all been the mega-hits that AQ Classic and AQW are.
HeroSmash is a prime example of a game which started strongly but lost its life's blood. Let me explain what happened.
As I mentioned in this post, games need traffic to provide income and income to stay alive. I even explained how expensive it is and what a delicate balancing act it can be to get that traffic.
HeroSmash started out very strong. We built up a lot of hype behind our new superhero based MMO and we took a new direction with a style that we all liked. The team (at the time there were about 15 talented team members on the project) built the game on the AQW engine but changed everything that we felt was wrong with it and cleaned it up, reducing its size to something more manageable (a difficult, expensive and time consuming task). For months the team kept throwing A+ content into the game every week with new powers and new adventures and new NPCs but fewer and fewer people started showing up.
The raging torrent of players that we started with became a river, then a stream, then a creek, then a trickle. The game was in freefall and no matter what we did, the game couldn't make enough to support the team. We can't keep a team of 15 working on a game that isn't bringing in any money to support the company so slowly the size of the team was reduced, smaller and smaller until now only Randor and a few volunteers are there to keep the lights on for the VERY small number of players who play HeroSmash (and even smaller number who pay to support it). There are days when the game makes nothing at all. Even a roadside tomato stall makes more than that.
People accuse AE of giving up on HeroSmash (and a few games in similar situations), but the truth of the matter is that the players left us no choice. We stuck around and tried to keep people interested in HeroSmash LONG after we reasonably should have but you can't keep that up forever.
All that said, the older and less popular games AREN'T GOING ANYWHERE (including, but not limited to, HeroSMash)! Artix has promised that the games would stay open for as long as possible and he means to keep that promise. Even if development has stopped on a game it will remain open until we can literally no longer afford to run the servers, even if it means keeping them going at a slight loss.
I'm going to say this again. I'm GLAD that all of our games have a free option so that people can have fun in them when they can't afford to support it. BUT, if you like one of our games and you want to see it prosper and grow then get your friends to play. If the game's continuation is a priority for you then support it if you can. Don't just complain that the updates have stopped when it is within YOUR power to change that.
I hope that the passionate and loyal players of our less popular games take this post to heart. With their help, people might come back and play one day. The game might start turning a profit and we might be able to re-start development on them. How cool would that be?
It's really up to you.