Richard Garriott, the creator of the Ultima RPG series, says he's made attempts to revive the games with remasters but was blocked from doing so by publisher EA.
Asked by an Ultima fan on Twitter whether he'd considered the idea of remastering the classic RPGs, Garriott confirmed that the matter is out of his hands.
I would... EA wouldn’t let me. We have tried. https://t.co/yuy4jVapxqJune 30, 2020
If you're like me, you know Ultima for the 1997 MMO pioneer, Ultima Online, but that's actually a spin-off of the main RPG series that dates back to the early '80s. It's the main series Garriott seems to be referencing above, as he's currently running his own MMORPG, Shroud of the Avatar, which would seem to directly conflict with a remake of Ultima Online.
The "classic" Ultima series spans nine single-player medieval RPGs, ending with 1999's Ultima 9: Ascension. The latest official release in the franchise is 2012's Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar, a short-lived free-to-play ARPG that took players back to the original series' lore, but was taken offline in 2014.
You can download the original trilogy through GOG, and it shouldn't be hard finding the other games. Likewise, Ultima Online is still very much playable, whether through the official game client or through various player-run servers, or "shards." Alternatively, Garriott's own Shroud of the Avatar is frequently described as a spiritual successor to Ultima Online.
Admittedly, I've never played the original Ultima games, and I'd love a modern take as a more approachable entry point. That said, I'm more than happy to spend hours playing a 22-year-old MMO, so I guess I have no excuse.
Ultima Online's lead designer is working on a new MMO from a new studio, so at least we have that to look forward to.