Game App users ought to pay attention to what just happened with the sudden announcement of the impending shut-down of six-year-old Game of Thrones: Ascent, otherwise known as GoTA. All digital assets and digital rights will be terminated as of January 3, 2019. I am writing to notify the Apple community of what happened because the question hs been asked: What is the point of spending money on a Game App (or any App) when we can lose everything at the whim of fate?
GoTA is a hosted game by Disruptor Beam Game of Thrones: Ascent, that is on iOS and Android, and can be played on Mac or PC via web browser by logging into several sites (e.g., Facebook, Kongregate, Disruptor Beam, etc.). It is an mmo game that features the Game of Thrones world. It was licensed by HBO and expected to be around for at least as long as the series. There is strong suspicion that HBO was the one to pull the plug on the approximately 10,000 active accounts.
The player is a noble in Westeros, building a keep, following a storyline according to their Westerosi fealty that runs parallel to and sometimes intersects the Game of Thrones storyline. Along the way, in order to gain status, she or he, accumulates wealth, achievements and rewards, and fights in user-created alliances for various titles and rewards. As a freemium game, players could play for free or pay real money for items, and some sank thousands of dollars into it. It has beautiful graphics, interesting storylines, and the opportunity to reincarnate into different fealties to gain talents and power after living a “lifetime” in a chosen fealty. There are many items that are crafted or won that can be combined to craft higher level items. The most sought-after item was a Collossal Dragon that was carefully nurtured from stone egg through several developmental stages. It took most players years to grow their dragon.
GoTA has been on-going for six years, has an international fan-base, and has fostered a special social closeness among its members. There have been real life GoTA marriages and GoTA special quests and items to commemorate someone whose real life “watch is over.” Particularly poignant are the GoTA widows/widowers who have kept their spouses’ accounts to remember them by. There are famous alliances that have fostered new alliances (some inadvertently), and famous players who have pushed the edge of the game dynamics. What has characterized GoTA has been the way that the developers have listened to and responded to players’ recommendations, complaints, and polls.
Last year, there were rumors that the company planned to abandon GoTA in favor of its newer games, but we were assured that it would last “as long as there were players to play the game.” So, on October 5, we were shocked to hear and read that the game would be completely closed down forever on January 3, 2019! Honor and Celebrate the Conclusion of GoTA. Information flow has been hampered by NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) between HBO and Disruptor Beam, and between Disruptor Beam and any player(s) choosing to discuss the matter in depth.
This is an example of the kinds of things that players have been discussing BUY OUT THE GAME in just one forum. There have been discussion groups on Facebook and among alliance members. There has been a great deal of anger, sadness, and feelings of betrayal. There has been a lively discussion of what constitutes digital rights, what is purchased with real money (permanent items as opposed to items that are to be used up, such as coins or gems), and what we are left with after an app goes under. We have lamented a lack of publicity about our dilemma.
If TidBITS is interested in investigating further, there is a significant amount of information that exists about our situation, and I am certain that there are better writers than me to explain it all.