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Did you know EA had a MOBA game called Dawngate in development?

Published: 08:08, 09 May 2019
Updated: 18:09, 15 May 2019
Waystone Games
Promotional picture for Waystone Games' Dawngate
Dawngate

EA used to have Dawngate, a MOBA by Waystone Studios in development and not many people remember it nowadays. It is a story of late trend adoption EA never learned from, the same EA being decent for once and a fan-made resuscitation.

Dawngate was a MOBA that was in development from the early 2010s and the news about the game started slowly leaking in 2013. It was not until mid-2014 that players got their chance to play Dawngate though, when the community beta kicked off, followed by an open beta in May of the same year.

It was meant to be a free-to-play title with microtransactions as the revenue source, just like the game's predecessors.

Waystone and EA also attempted to get into the esports scene going even before Dawngate would be officially released which was already a hint of developers and publishers wishing to grab a slice of that juicy cake that League of Legends already had a lion's share in.

The game was cancelled on 4 November 2014, just six months after open beta kicked off with the officially cited reason being that Dawngate apparently didn't grow as well as EA and Waystone planned. It continued to operate on life support for 90 days.

Waystone Games were disbanded soon after which is something everyone has come to expect from EA but in an odd turn of events, the company decided to do something fairly commendable - they refunded all the money players spent on Dawngate microtransactions. It is quite unusual for a company that went as far as releasing DLC for DLC .

Waystone Games Screenshot from Dawngate showing minions and a shaper Dawngate

While there could be any number of reasons why Dawngate couldn't grow, the most obvious one is that EA and Waystone were late to the party. League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth were the early adopters of the MOBA genre that was initially popularised by DotA and LoL was at the peak of its popularity in 2014 with the Season 4 whose stories fans retell even to this day.

Both used to be extremely successful but HoN was later overtaken by Dota 2 and it is almost dead these days. Even Dota 2 was around for a year when Dawngate initially entered testing and Waystone's MOBA never really stood a chance in an oversaturated market that saw many games be developed and die soon after, regardless of how good they were.

One would think this would be a lesson enough in adopting trends early but EA proved this was not the case with the latest craze - the battle royale. PUBG propelled the genre to the top of the gaming world in 2017, Epic Games reacted quickly by making a free-to-play battle royale mode for Fortnite, overtook PUBG by mid-2018 and became a global phenomenon. The market once again became oversaturated, a pile of battle royale games tried to enter it and died soon after.

Epic Games, for example, learned from their failure with Paragon - a MOBA game that was beloved by the player base but never stood a chance since the market didn't let it grow after release in 2016. They were quick to react to the battle royale craze and they are now literally buying other developers like it's nobody's business due to the newfound ability to swim in cash made by Fortnite.

EA on the other hand completely missed the window with battle royale games too. Their Firestorm mode for the already troubled Battlefield V was announced for March 2019 and was moved even after that. Respawn came to the rescue with Apex Legends in February 2019, but that game couldn't keep up with the initial surge in popularity either, which is witnessed by drops in both Google search interest and Twitch viewership. 

Waypoint Picture of a shaper in Waypoint's Shrine of Imanna Shrine of Imanna

While EA's inability to jump on a popular trend marked the death of Waystone Games, it apparently didn't sink all hopes for the fans of Dawngate. Wayfinder Studio, a group of fans of the original game, announced the development of a remake, named Shrine of Imanna for copyright purposes, back in 2017.

The project is still going on, with the official Twitter and Discord server posting regular updates. According to the FAQ on Discord, chances of Wayfinder getting a cease and desist letter from EA are low so there is no threat for the project going under any time soon.

Considering the City of Heroes' recent revival by rogue private servers despite NCSoft's notoriety for closing such projects down, it is quite possible EA will not interfere with Shrine of Imanna either, especially since the developers have no intention of monetising the project without the company's consent. 

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