League of Legends is one of the most lucrative games in the world, and all of the big gaming companies want a piece of that money — but at least one publisher is giving up on its most successful effort to date.

Publisher Electronic Arts revealed today that it is shutting down Dawngate, which is a free-to-play multiplayer online arena battler. EA will cease service in 90 days. The online action-strategy genre is making millions of dollars for a number of games. EA obviously saw a chance to get some of that cash only to realize the opportunity had passed it by.

Here is EA’s Dawngate general manager Matt Bromberg’s blog post on the closure:

“Today, I have the unenviable task of announcing that we’ve decided to stop development of Dawngate.

I know this is disappointing news for our community, which has been so supportive and loyal.  To all of you who have graciously given us your time and valuable feedback during our beta period, we’d first like to thank you.

Whenever we begin a game project, we do so with great hopes and expectations.  In this case, we chose to enter a new genre for EA in MOBA, one that we knew going in was extremely competitive. We built a game in Dawngate that wasn’t simply a clone of existing MOBAs, but one that truly pushed the genre forward in many ways. Dawngate has been in beta for almost 18 months, including a full open beta for the past six months. Through that time, we’ve taken a lot of feedback from players and delivered lots of new features and innovations.  And although the game has grown, we’re not seeing the progress we’d hoped for.   This isn’t the outcome we wanted, but beta testing is about learning and improving, and ultimately, about making difficult decisions about how to proceed.

As for the incredibly talented team of designers, producers, engineers, and artists who have put so much creative energy into Dawngate:  The game was truly a labor of love, and it shows.  We’ve got nothing but gratitude for their hard work, and pride about what’s been accomplished.

As a part of the process of closing down Dawngate, we’ll continue to operate the game for the next 90 days.  All players will be entitled to a full refund of any money spent during the beta.  For most players, we’ll process those refunds within the next 10 days.   If we don’t have current payment information on file for you, we’ll need to reach out first before initiating the refund.  If you have any questions, you can reach us at help.ea.com.”

On behalf of the entire team at Waystone Games and EA, I want once again to thank all our players for being part of this journey. Your straight-up feedback and the friendly reception we received all over the world at events was extremely encouraging and important to us. We appreciate it.

Dawngate was EA’s big move into the MOBA genre that League of Legends and Dota 2 dominate. It first debuted in May 2013 as a closed beta test. The company slowly rolled it out into an open test that launched in this past May. Dawngate, while not as popular as the biggest games in the genre, had a loyal following.


GamesBeat at the Game Awards

We invite you to join us in LA for GamesBeat at the Game Awards event this December 7. Reserve your spot now as space is limited!

Learn More

When EA debuted Dawngate, few were surprised that it would chase after the MOBA space. League of Legends is already on track to make more than $1 billion this year. Many see free-to-play games as the future, and the publisher likely thought it could make some bank by going after that loyal competitive-gaming crowd. That didn’t work out — just like it isn’t really working for most companies trying to get a fraction of League of Legends’ audience.

This isn’t the first time that EA has chased after the biggest game in the world. When World of Warcraft was at its height, the company put millions of dollars into having its BioWare studio make the Star Wars: The Old Republic massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Similarly, EA had its developer Danger Close remake the Medal of Honor franchise to more closely resemble Activision’s Call of Duty behemoth.

Star Wars: The Old Republic quickly switched to free-to-play from a subscription-based model. The Medal of Honor franchise is now on the shelf.

GamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Discover our Briefings.