Despite thinking this was an awesome idea when I first heard about it, I can't say I was overly impressed. It definitely had its good points - you could create very Family Guy-esque characters, the roles were varied, the graphics were everything you'd expect from a browser game and the in-game media was laugh-a-minute. Unfortunately fans started to turn away from the game for a variety of reasons, including high shop prices, limited space to explore and low drop-rates. An official reason for the closure has not yet been given, but it's likely to be down to several factors.
Fast fading shiny
Although I didn't get into it initially, I did like the game. Unfortunately there just wasn't enough in it to grab and hold your attention - the quests were a little one dimensional and the overall impression I got was that this was a game that would have been more suitable for children - if it wasn't for the fact that it was based on a TV show designed for mature audiences. It was polished though, and it worked reasonably well. The voice acting was consistant with the show and you really did feel as though you were walking down Spooner Street. Unfortunately you couldn't go a great deal further.
Getting the advertising wrong
Another factor that hampered the game's success was a lack of advertising - usually a new MMO of any kind is heavily marketed, but in this case the ads were few and far between in comparison to similar products. It's almost as though FOX just assumed that fans of the show would flock to it and didn't realise that they needed to make Family Guy Online appeal to gamers as well as Family Guy fans. There's plenty of scope for crossover in both directions - if they'd expanded the beta content and marketed it better they could have scooped up gamers who enjoy this sort of game play but didn't necessarily have strong feelings about the show - it's definitely an opportunity missed.
Unfortunately, this really is something FOX should have tried a few years ago, when Family Guy was enjoying a surge in popularity and the video games market was slightly less saturated. Betas used to be difficult to get into - now you can find something new and free to play with minimal effort. For a game that falls into the 'fun but no great shakes' category the timing couldn't be worse. People who are more inclined to play hardcore MMOs are already spoiled for choice, people who prefer simpler browser based multiplayers also have plenty of options - there isn't space for another simple MMO, and Family Guy has aged enough to become a show you'll watch a repeat of when nothing else is on, rather than one you'd seek out. The buzz has faded.
Milking the player base
One of the things that put me off early on was the amount you have to spend to get anywhere in this game. At the time, the forum was full of threads complaining about prices for items, character unlocks and so on, which have now been deleted. You don't expect to have to pay money to beta test a class in a game. If you're asking people to test it for you, don't ask them to get their credit cards out. Save that crap for when the game actually launches and you KNOW you have players eager to play those classes and prepared to pay a reasonable amount to unlock them if you have to lock classes - don't make people pay to test them for you. Fortunately for anyone who has made a purchase in the last 60 days, all funds are being refunded.
Better as a phone game?
While this makes a good browser game, simplifying it further, making it much more engaging and launching it as a smartphone or tablet game would have been a far more sensible idea. Tablet and phone games are really taking off, and that Family Guy Mobile might just have gotten somewhere. I wouldn't be too surprised to see this in the near future, although I think they would still end up ripping people off.
I can't say I'm shedding a tear for this one, it was just too much of a non-event. It's a shame, as some people clearly enjoy it and are sad to see it go, but it's not really a huge surprise. So long Family Guy Online, it was fun while it lasted!