How did SOS, by Outpost Games, go from being a unique MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) to alienating their core fanbase? The developers switched the game to a battle royale.
SOS launched in late 2017 as a social survival game. Players were part of a reality TV show where 16 contestants were dropped on La Cuna Island and had to use their wits and fight Hupia (island monsters) to obtain relics. These relics were the key to obtaining one of three seats on a chopper to escape the island. What made this game unique was its open-mic system. Players could verbally strategize with each other by forming alliances, running solo, or backstabbing everyone they met. The choice was theirs. This resulted in each game being intense because you never knew what would happen.
At the time of release, Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) were two of the most popular games. Fans of SOS rejoiced for something different.
Since the premise of the game was a reality show, players who live-streamed their game had an audience count displayed with their character. Overtime, Outpost Games set up a system for viewers to interact with their favorite streamer by applauding, sending hearts, hate emojis, laughs, and loot.
It was interesting watching gamers interact with other players as themselves or in roleplay. Many steamers got to know each other online and offline thanks to the game. SOS hosted an event to bring their best players together. Everyone was genuinely excited to see the person behind the character who was their teammate or backstabber.
The developers added more features including a defibrillator to revive your friends, additional melee weapons, a night mode, additional guns, bulletproof vests and made the Hupia look more menacing. Everything seemed to have been going well until one rumor became a reality.
The Switch to Battle Royale
After Outpost Games’ last content release update, the game shifted from being strategic to kill on-site. During March 2018, SOS had approximately 2.5K players online. That number decreased to 400+ in one month. Players seemed to be disappointed the original game style was replaced and abandoned the game.
After several rumors, Outpost Games launched SOS: Battle Royale despite the protest of their fans.
Allegedly, Outpost Games was dealing with some legal issues, losing money, and releasing a battle royale was a last-ditch effort to garnish profit. Regardless of their reasons, the SOS: Battle Royale was released with low active players and in a market saturated with battle royales. The developers reached out to popular streamers to play the refreshed game, but streamers quickly realized SOS had lost the charm which made it unique.
Outpost Games kept SOS: Classic as secondary, but heavily pushed for gamers to buy the new battle royale. Eventually, Outpost Games announced, in June 2018, SOS: Classic would be removed and SOS: Battle Royale will become free-to-play. Players who paid for both versions of the game were disappointed and were only offered cosmetics for their characters. All of Outpost Games’ efforts were to no avail.
With declining players and amounting frustrations, Outpost Games released a statement announcing servers will be shut down for both games on November 12, 2018.
We come to you today with unfortunate news. After much deliberation, we have decided to shut down SOS. This will affect both SOS and SOS: Classic. This was an extremely difficult decision to make, but one that, sadly, is necessary.
From the very beginning, we set out to create an experience with SOS that would resonate both with players and audiences. Unfortunately, through multiple iterations of SOS, we were unable to fully realize this goal and engage players and viewers in the way we had hoped. For that, we are sorry…
Thank you for being a part of the SOS community and coming on this adventure with us.
The Outpost Games Team
What Could Have Been is Now Nothing
Outpost Games somehow lost their way. Instead of releasing new maps or new mechanics, they chose to fall into the same box as everyone else with a battle royale. Maybe if the game started with a battle royale mode, it would have survived. Changing the game within a couple of months may have been the equivalent turning League of Legends into Fortnite. You can’t drastically switch things up because the product becomes something different than what the audience paid for.
The official website for the game has converted into is a free online slots website known as SOSGames (School of Slots Games). The fact that a fun invigorating game is now gone and replaced with free online slot machines is disappointing.
SOS‘ social media accounts are inactive and Outpost Games have removed their website and social accounts.
SOS: Classic will always be remembered for building online friendships and players providing intense, yet intriguing, gameplay. This style of gaming deserves a comeback, but with better management. The audience is still there. They just need a quality game.