After more than ten years in operation, NCsoft has made the “difficult decision” to pull the plug on Lineage in North America.

We’re a little bit behind the times on this one, yes, so consider it a public service announcement rather than news if that makes you feel better. However you want to look at it, the upshot remains the same: Lineage, the NCsoft MMO that went online all the way back in 1998, is coming to a close. The company intends to focus on South Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan, markets where the game is presumably still relevant.

“After much deliberation, NCsoft has made the difficult decision to shut down Lineage servers in its Western markets. Unfortunately, after more than 10 years, the original Lineage franchise is no longer financially viable in the West,” the company said in a statement. “On June 29, 2011, at the normal maintenance time, all the original Lineage NA servers maintained by NCsoft will shut down permanently.”

No new accounts can be created but anyone still playing will have free access to the game until it goes dark. And as often happens when an MMO wraps up, Lineage will go out with a bang. “We will not be making any additional content updates, but we do have U.S. Ruleset changes and lots of great events planned for the next two months,” the statement says. “We want to give you every opportunity to make all of your remaining Lineage dreams come true. We hope that everyone will stick around to have fun with the game you love in the time we have left.”

It’s bad news for fans but NCsoft is doing what it can to soften the blow. Lineage players who had an active, paid subscription at any point in 2011 are eligible for a Player Appreciation Reward, which includes an activation code and two months of free game time for the four NCsoft games currently operating in the U.S. – Lineage II, Aion, Guild Wars and City of Heroes: Going Rogue – plus special in-game items. Outstanding balances on Lineage accounts will also be refunded in full.

“We know that we have incredibly loyal fans that have stood by us for the past ten years,” it concludes. “As painful as it was, as a business, we had to make a very difficult, but necessary, decision.” More information about the coming shutdown and NCsoft’s rewards and refund policy can be found at

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