Free-to-play mecha shooter Hawken will be shutting down servers for the PC version of the game 2 January 2018. The console versions of Hawken will stay open for business and there is no official word on why the PC original is being shut down.
Hawken turned quite a lot of heads back when it was announced during E3 2011. After some relatively troubled development, microtransaction fuelled beta, and Steam Early Access shenanigans the finally game released with a free-to-play business model on PC.
Hawken's development was drenched in all colours of shady, the game changed hands between publishers and individual developers, updates were promised but never properly delivered and after a long period of silence and some console ports, it now looks like the game is at the end of its days on PC.
Why shady? Because while promising updates and attention, the studio and publishers behind the game which never really left Early Access were happy to sell micotransaction items and bundles, calling the approach "pay-not-to-grind" instead of pay-to-win. Today, most customers are wise enough to see such statements for the PR-speak it is.
The publisher and studio kept gathering data on user behaviour and the performance of their microtransaction model, while preparing to launch the mecha shooter on consoles. The PC version was supposed to get some love after that task has been accomplished. That love will be delivered in euthanasia form on 2 January 2018, so if you never got around to trying Hawken, you have close to 3 months to do it. Or just do it on consoles, as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions that launched back in July 2016 will remain live.
While this might be speculative on my part, it looks like the original developers failed to capitalise on the hype they managed to stir up back in 2012 and the project floated around until it landed in the hands of a famed free-to-play publisher. That publishers then realised that there is either to little money to be made on PC or that focusing on the console crowd would be a better fit for their microtransactive approach. The PC version was slowly ported, data was gathered, and what money could be made was milked out of Hawken, while assuring the community that fixes and updates were just around the corner. Once the average daily player numbers dipped under 100, it was time to do something about the ailing horse. Most of the original developers probably left at various points during the 5 or so years described in this highly speculative and dramatic summary of mine.
Hawken is struggling to stay above the 100 average player count at the time of writing, in spite of being a free-to-play game. User reviews claim that the game is a cashgrabby mess overflowing with cheaters, and Reloaded Games who are currently in charge of development have a similar track record with their previous attempt to turn David Jones' APB into something commercially viable. After so much time in development hell it is somewhat difficult to exactly pinpoint who is publishing Hawken where and during what timespan. The PC version seems to be under Reloaded Games, while the console ports appear to be handled by 505 Games. As the console ports are the last currently remaining versions it is safe to say that 505 Games are currently at the helm.
I haven't tried playing Hawken on consoles, but with what I've seen of the game while playing on PC some 3 years ago some significant changes must have happened to make it gamepad friendly. Either way it seems to be doing better financially than it did on PC.
Microtransactions have been disabled and will stay that way until the game shuts down next year, so it is relatively safe to go and have a look.