True Fantasy Live Online
True Fantasy Live Online was an MMORPG in development by Level-5 for Microsoft's Xbox video game console. After a long and troubled development cycle that lasted close to two years, the game was cancelled on June 2, 2004. The game was to take place in a massive fantasy setting where up to 3,000 users, each with their own fully customizable character, could adventure around with each other fighting monsters and collecting various items.
Often cited as one of the most disappointing project cancellations of recent years, True Fantasy Live Online was highly anticipated almost right from the moment it was announced in 2002, and was touted as one of the premier titles for the Xbox and its Xbox Live online service in Japan. Yet despite being "fully playable" and near completion according to Microsoft around the time of its cancellation, the title's development was littered with complications from the very beginning. One such problem was Level-5's inexperience with online network coding and their inability to properly implement voice chat compatibility into the game. It was a feature never before implemented on such a large scale in an MMORPG; however, Microsoft was very adamant on its inclusion, as it was a key feature to their Xbox Live service.
Relations between the two companies soon began to spiral out of control as Level-5 struggled to meet the demands required by Microsoft, who in turn grew frustrated at the lack of progress being made on the game. After an extremely short and rather underwhelming showing at the Tokyo Game Show in 2003, True Fantasy Live Online was quietly delayed from its initial Fall 2003 release into 2004. From then, little was seen or heard about from the title, and after a surprising absence during the year's E3 convention, it was officially cancelled by Microsoft on June 2.
In the months following, Level-5 President and CEO Akihiro Hino stated in a Japanese interview that the poor relations between his company and Microsoft, partially due to the latter's inexperience in dealing with Japanese developers, was one of the major reasons behind True Fantasy Live Online's cancellation. He also heavily implied that the two companies did not part amicably.
In a July 2008 interview with Edge, Shane Kim, former general manager of Microsoft Game Studios spoke in regard to failed Microsoft MMORPG projects (including Marvel Universe Online, and True Fantasy Live Online). While acknowledging that the cancellations were the right thing to do at the time, Shane Kim also felt that such games could be successful on the Xbox 360 platform.
- Edge Staff (2008-07-28). "Shane Kim Talks 360 MMO Washouts". Edge.