OCT. 26, 2008 • Namco Bandai made clear that it would maintain Hellgate: London through January of 2009, but would not commit to maintaining them beyond that time frame. The game’s future became uncertain after its developer, Flagship Studios, encountered financial difficulties during the summer. Hellgate: London’s Korean publisher, HanbitSoft, announced on Nov. 3 that it had acquired the title’s IP, as well as Mythos, another Flagship game. HanbitSoft said it was hard at work working on an expansion for Hellgate: London, which would be targeted at the North American as well as Asian markets. In related news, Flagship co-founder Bill Roper has now joined Cryptic Studios as design director of Champions Online.
Impact: This is a great example of the challenge traditional publishers’ face in the brave new online world. Products are now services and the manufacturer is expected to maintain the product after launch. If the developer runs into financial trouble and can no longer maintain the product, the whole chain will collapse. However, most of the traditional publishers do not have the capabilities to develop these complex online games in-house.