Want to buy a MMORPG?

It’s not every day you get the opportunity to help purchase and open source a massively multiplayer online game — but the team behind Free Ryzom certainly tried raising almost 200000 Euros to purchase the assets and intellectual property of the Ryzom MMORPG.

The opportunity is an unmissable one — the original developer of the Ryzom MMORPG French development house Nevrax SARL recently filed for bankruptcy causing the company to go into liquidation. This put its assets up for grabs and a team led by Nevrax developers decided to galvanise the gaming and open-source communities to buy it. The plan if successful would involve putting the MMORPG under the GPL creating the first open-source MMORPG.

As the Free Ryzom Campaign site notes this isn’t that crazy an idea. When the founding company NaN (Not a Number) of popular cross-platform 3D rendering suite Blender went out of business a drive to buy the source code and intellectual property to the product was started by ex-NaN employees. It took just seven weeks to raise the 100000 Euros needed from the Blender and open-source communities and in Oct 2002 Blender was released under the GPL.

The Free Ryzom Campaign managed to generate almost twice this in half the time (thanks no doubt to a recent Slashdotting) raising pledges of some 170000 euros to put an offer on the table helped in part by a large 60000 Euro pledge by the FSF (Free Software Foundation).

However it was not to be. Today the new owners of the Ryzom MMORPG were announced to be Gameforge whose plans for the MMORPG are unknown and so the dream of an open-source MMORPG has been quashed — at least for now.

It’s unfortunate the bid didn’t succeed as it would have been a massive boon for the open source community — gaming is the one platform it hasn’t been able to adequately penetrate and having a project of this size while being able to tap into the development community to produce and continue to expand such a MMORPG could see a new competitor to take on the likes of World of Warcraft and Everquest — the shining luminaries of just how successful (and profitable) a MMORPG can be.

Still it’s still impressive feat to generate the response it did and right now the organisers are looking to see if they can re-direct that momentum to pitch Gameforge or alternatively look into buying other MMOs.

If you’re interested in seeing where this leads or adding to the discussion check out the Free Ryzom forums. To check out the game grab the free client.


Ryzom: An MMORPG up for sale.