The Matrix is something of a sore point for a lot of 90s kids. The franchise that should have done for disillusioned, white pencil pushers what Star Wars did for disillusioned, white suburbanites 20 years prior was quickly dragged down by studio interference. And, let's face it, the Wachowskis themselves probably didn't help matters if their subsequent work is any indication.
Still, The Matrix Online had a lot of potential on its meta merits alone: a virtual, interactive world about a virtual, interactive world? What's not to love! Quite a bit, as it turned out. TMO was repetitive, glitchy, and difficult as hell in spots. Nevertheless, it was an official continuation to the hands-to-mouth-fart-noise that was The Matrix Revolutions. It also featured an ongoing plot, with new chapters added periodically, something which modern MMOs are only now starting to emulate.
Whether because of the game's quality (or lack thereof), or because of the brand poison that was Revolutions, nobody gave a damn. Years later it came to light that at the end the game had fewer users than your average Boeing 747. Presumably since no one was paying attention anyway, Sony Online Entertainment took this opportunity to end The Matrix franchise once and for all.
They did so in the usual ways: ramping up enemy difficulty and spawn rates, dropping unique baddies to lay waste among the time wasters (angels, demons, and high level agents), and the typical addition of gaping human eyes crying blood on the horizon.
Uh, that last one might actually be kind of unique. The same goes for the Sony handing out developer-level superpowers to every average Trinity and Morpheus knock-off with a trench-coat (read: literally everyone who played the game). The resulting effect -- columns of lightning competing for attention with digitized black holes in an urban hellscape -- was pretty striking. More striking than the game could handle, in fact, as the 2005 server architecture went limp with nary a "not like this" to mark its passing.
Much like the game itself, The Matrix simulation was crushed, along with everyone in it. Given that The Matrix Online was the official continuation of the universe it's going to be rough going for Hollywood's inevitable franchise reboot in five years time. Okay, they'll probably just disregard the whole "raining eye-blood" and "everyone being dead" stuff. Still, it's fun to imagine some Hollywood exec's plans for nostalgia mining waylaid by a decade-old MMO. "What the hell!? We can't use Morpheus because he was killed by some guy called xXSmokezMadBluntzXx?"
While most failed MMOs were ill-conceived cash grabs to begin with, Star Wars Galaxies fans will tell you (at length) that the game was actually pretty good. At the very least it was truly bizarre, and not the sort of thing Disney's brand-authenticating hunter-killers will ever allow to happen again: something like Second Life meets Minecraft with the Star Wars license.
The game featured hyper-intensive crafting that allowed players to construct their own homes, cities, and decorations. Because this was Star Wars and not actually Second Life, however, the fans used this power for evil instead of good, meticulously modeling podracers out of component parts rather than giant, flying attack penises. The dark side has no room for a sense of humor.
Once Galaxies was set to close, the developers remedied that lack of off-brand comedy. Players could do battle with mile-long Star Destroyers and awful frame rates to determine Rebel or Imperial control throughout civilized space, while professional dancers (that was a thing you could be) showed their support below, only to get pasted by the ensuing orbital bombardments. Elsewhere, fifty-foot Jedi stood as catatonic sentinels over the game's many planets, while Ewoks of equal size -- the Megawoks -- were much more aggressive. And with that, Galaxies became the only Star Wars canon that should ever matter.
Sadly, the numbers didn't agree, and less than a week later EA's The Old Republic replaced it as the primary Star Wars MMO. Even so, Galaxies died in much the same way that it had lived -- as a sloppy, wet, beautiful stain on one of pop culture's most fastidiously pruned franchises.