Just over a month after releasing a controversial redesign, the team at Neople have announced the end of service for their free-to-play online shooter Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex First Assault Online for the Western world. This comes just weeks after publisher Nexon announced the game’s closure in Japan would take place on November 29th. The statement posted on the game’s official forum on August 21st reads:
“We’re sorry to inform you that we will be sunsetting Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex First Assault Online in North and South America, Europe, and the Oceania region, with final closure scheduled for December 6.
This was a very tough decision to make. The game has been in development for a long time, supported by developer, publisher, and community effort. Ultimately, we decided that continued development wasn’t going to help the game become what we all hoped it could become.
We will be supporting the game for the next several months during the sunset period, allowing both the development and publishing teams and the community to say goodbyes and enjoy the game.
In the near term, we’ll be removing the in-game store and will stop selling Steam DLC immediately. After several months, the game service will be closed for good on December 6, 2017 at 10am PST.
It’s been a humbling experience to serve such a dedicated and engaged player community. We sincerely thank you for all the feedback and support you’ve given us throughout the years.”
Looking at the game’s playerbase on SteamDB, it’s not hard to see some of the reasoning behind the decision. Since the game’s launch on July 28th, 2016 the number of daily players dropped precipitously and by the Fall it regularly had just over 1,000 players each day. The “renewal” update in July generated a small peak when longtime players returned to find the game in drastically different form.
One of the major changes in the update separated the characters and weapons into classes. Suddenly the guns that players had put the most time into were no longer available to the characters they preferred. Despite the improvements and additions this change apparently didn’t sit well with fans.