The game studio behind the Hellgate: London MMO has “for all intents and purposes” closed down, Flagship Studios co-founder and COO Max Schafer has told game industry site Gamasutra.
The San Fransisco-based studio was founded in 2003 by Bill Roper along with Max Schaefer, Erich Schaefer, and David Brevik, former members of Blizzard’s Diablo action-RPG team. When Flagship’s first and only released game, Hellgate: London, launched, it was plagued with bugs and wasnt really that good. The buggy launch led Flagship CEO Bill Roper to admit that the game was too ambitious and should have narrowed its focus.
Update: Flagship boss Bill Roper has admitted there’s nothing left to do with Hellgate developer Flagship other than pack up and go home with a little dignity.
“We’re working hard on how to end gracefully,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve got people we owe money to, so we’re doing absolutely everything in our power to get those people the money we owe them, whether that’s on an institutional side, lenders, or, equally as important, with our employees who aren’t there anymore.” via 1Up.
Bye, Flagship. Thank god i didnt get suckered in for that Hellgate:London Lifetime subscription.
The company attempted to fix Hellgate’s various issues and offered constant updates and fixes in the months that followed the launch. However, talks of employees leaving “in droves” began to spread via a Flagship employee blog posting shortly after. The posting has since been taken down. Exodus talks were later denied by both the company and the individual employee in a public statement. However, it was later confirmed by Roper that Flagship’s Studios did indeed lay off most of its employees, and attributed it to the fact that the company could no longer sustain its size. To add to the chaos, Hellgate’s Korean publisher, HanbitSoft, later asserted that it was keeping the rights to the Hellgate: London IP in the Asian markets as collateral for Flagship’s loans. This left the fate of the game in North America in uncertain waters. Zack Karlsson, Senior Director of Business Development for Namco Bandai, the MMO’s North American publisher, asserted that Namco Bandai may step in to keep the Hellgate: London servers running, although no official announcements were made.
Hellgate: London was not the only Flagship game to face financial cuts. Mythos, the company’s other action RPG, was put on hiatus. Shortly after, Flagship laid off Ping0, the development subsidiary that was working on Mythos. Although Max Schaefer and several Mythos team members have recently formed Runic Games, the new company has not released any detailed plans for the potential launch of the IP.
Schaefer recently told Gamecyte.com, in regards to the closure, that the company is currently trying to “take care of the final affairs.” He added, “It’s a little bit of a new experience for all of us. We don’t exactly know the ‘proper’ way to close down a company.”