The demise of Ultima Online -- now nearing its tenth anniversary -- has been widely predicted, even here on Terra Nova over two years ago. Multiple abortive attempts at revamping the game have been made within Electronic Arts (heck, I was on the second one and that was nearly five years ago). It has long seemed to many industry watchers that UO would eventually ride off into the MMO sunset, carrying its still respectable playerbase with it.
Well, apparently not. UO is a Kingdom Reborn. Spiffy new 3D graphics, same top-down viewpoint.
So, apart from celebrating the refurbishing of this venerable title, what does this say about the useful lifespan of an MMO? Clearly if a successful virtual world can last for even five years, much less ten, it's an amazing entertainment property from a business/investment perspective. But from a gameplay and community perspective, is UO still viable for those who are not already die-hard fans?
Can MMOs effectively live forever (with enough facelifts), or should they at some point gracefully retire?