Is it dead or is it alive? If you live in North America, Hellgate: London is still very much dead. For now.
Following the demise of Hellgate: London developer Flagship Studios in the summer, Namco Bandai took control of the game and announced it was considering all options regarding the title’s future, including, presumably, keeping the lights on. But in late October, the company announced it was pulling the plug: All Hellgate servers would be shut down effective February 1, 2009.
But then came a curveball. HanbitSoft, a South Korean company that also owns the rights to Hellgate (more on that later) announced that an expansion was on the way. “Since acquiring the intellectual property rights, HanbitSoft Inc., the publisher and distributor of Hellgate: London in Asia, has concentrated on the development of Hellgate: London, and has received many inquiries regarding new updates,” the game’s product manager said in a message posted on Game Espresso.
“Our US development studio is currently working on an update that is to surpass The Abyss Chronicles. This game will be available through our web site,” he contined. “We thank you once again for showing your interest and ask for your continuous support for Hellgate: London, as we hope to bring good news shortly. In the meantime, we will continue developing the world’s best game!”
Like some kind of “Schroedinger’s shitty action-RPG,” this state of simultaneous life and death was a little confusing for the average gamer, although that confusion was mitigated somewhat by the fact that just about none of them care anyway. Bad news for those who do: Asian markets (minus Japan), where the game has apparently done fairly well, might see more Hellgate, but North American and European gamers won’t be so lucky.
“People are speculating and I don’t want anyone shocked on January 31, 2009 when the server and forums shut down and there is nothing,” Community Manager Diane Migliaccio wrote in a post on the Hellgate forums. “Let me explain things a bit to see if it clears up any issues for you. [Expansion developer/publisher] Hanbit owns the IP and rights to publish anywhere other than the US and EU and I think the other territory is Japan. Namco owns the rights to publish in the US and EU.”
Is this really the end, then? Stay tuned!