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Hellgate: London

The Perfect Ten: The sadistic shopper's list for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Fury, RF Online, The Matrix Online, Hellgate: London, Tabula Rasa, All Points Bulletin, Humor, Promotions, Perfect Ten

With the holiday shopping season upon us, gamers are hot for great deals and cheap entertainment. As my wife's logic goes, if something is 80% off, you buy it, even if you didn't really want it in the first place. It's the principle of the thing, an automatic 80% dose of smug satisfaction at being a savvy shopper!

Not every deal should be pursued, however. Although most video games are playable for years and decades after release, not so with MMOs that have had their service shuttered. It's recently come to my attention that even though these games are completely unplayable -- rendered nothing more than a few cents' worth of a DVD and cardboard packaging -- online retailers haven't kept up with the times and keep these products on the virtual shelves long past their expiration dates.

That's not to say you should avoid these products at all cost, because studies show that a large percentage of Massively readers have a sick and twisted sense of humor. What would make a better gift this Christmas than a multi-million-dollar-budget MMO that died a horrible death years before?

So don't be the typical gifter who settles for a Blu-ray player or an iPod -- give a package of misery, disillusionment and broken dreams! Hit the jump for 10 items that absolutely belong in your shopping cart if you wish to be feared!

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The Perfect Ten: Halloween MMOs

Age of Conan, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Fallen Earth, Events (In-Game), Warhammer Online, Wurm Online, Hellgate: London, The Secret World, Humor, World of Darkness, Perfect Ten

We're only a few days away from Halloween, and already the Massively office staff is dressing up in anticipation. Shawn's post-apocalyptic gear is at odds with Rubi's tastefully modest Guild Wars Elementalist outfit. Greg's Squig is in the corner battling it out with Larry's Chewbacca. Bree is dudded up as a giant red corrective marker; Jef's free-to-play outfit requires microtransactions to view in full; and Kyrstalle is photographing it all with her Poloroid One-Shot camera. I think Eliot showed up in full plate armor and riding a mechanical bull, but that just may be his normal work attire.

So as everyone else is goofing off in the spirit of the holidays, it remains to me, your lovable intern, to hack out a top 10 list in honor of All Hallow's Eve. It's the least I can do since they're paying me in candy.

While every MMO incorporates horror at some point (even, yes, Hello Kitty Online's Cat-Tastrophie zone), and it's nearly impossible to escape a clutch of giant spiders in any game you visit, I've picked out 10 MMOs that best deliver a slice of October 31st. Some are old, some new, some canceled and some yet to come, but these are 10 of the spookiest MMOs in the world.

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The Daily Grind: Will you welcome back the Hellgate franchise?

Horror, Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Opinion, Hellgate: London, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind

Hellgate: London is one of those games that has really divided opinion from our readers. Some brand it as a deeply-flawed game, or were burned by that costly Founder's lifetime subscription when the game shut down after a rather short life. Others -- like some of us on the Massively staff -- truly miss the game's blend of horror and sci-fi elements and have been hoping that Hellgate: London would one day return in some form or another.

Although the future of the game has been murky, the most recent (and most straightforward) announcement is that Hellgate: London is slated to return to Western shores. HanbitSoft has secured the worldwide publishing rights to the game from Namco-Bandai, so now it's just a matter of time before it returns. We're interested to hear what you think about this. Would you welcome the return of Hellgate: London? For that matter, how would you feel about playing the game in its current free-to-play incarnation, Hellgate: Resurrection?

HanbitSoft acquires worldwide publishing rights for Hellgate: London

Horror, MMO Industry, Hellgate: London, Legal

It's been a long and turbulent ride for Hellgate: London, stretching all the way back to its rather troubled Halloween 2007 launch under the banner of the ill-fated Flagship Studios. This stretched through a bewildering morass of licensing disputes, general misinformation, and mixed signals (like continual English press releases for the game in a non English-speaking market. *ahem*) in the wake of the Flagship Studios closure and subsequent legal wranglings between T3 Entertainment/HanbitSoft and NAMCO BANDAI. Still, despite some of the flaws both in terms of business decisions made and the game itself, the title has its fans and many were sad to see Hellgate: London's servers in North America and Europe go dark.

Liken it to a yo-yo, a roller coaster, or what have you -- it's been confusing, but there have been glimmers of hope of the game one day returning to Western regions. An official release from Hellgate: London's license holder HanbitSoft today is perhaps the most solid bit of info we've received about the future of the game outside of Korea. In HanbitSoft's own words: "HanbitSoft Inc., announced today that the company has obtained the publishing rights for Hellgate in North America, Europe and Japan from NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc.. HanbitSoft and NAMCO BANDAI Games America, the formal owner of the publishing rights in these regions, have entered into an agreement for the game to be distributed by HanbitSoft in the future."

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Hellgate: Tokyo, still not for you!

Horror, Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Hellgate: London

Let's just get this out of the way right off the bat -- there is no word on a Hellgate game release for, or return to, any of the Western markets. Still, some of us quite enjoyed playing Hellgate: London or saw the potential in it, and would like to see this happen. Back when Hellgate: London was new and held some promise as a good mix of horror and sci-fi, a few of the writers here envisioned how the game might expand if it were successful. Monikers like Hellgate: Hong Kong, Hellgate: New York, and such were mentioned. As was Hellgate: Tokyo, only it seems this one is actually going to happen... for Asia.

Our Korean is rusty non-existent but the (very brief) Hellgate: Tokyo teaser indicates a 2010 release. Fans of Hellgate: London -- we know there must be a few of you out there somewhere -- can find the video over at GameTrailers.

Hellgate: London wants to come back, it really does

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Hellgate: London

Still confused on the true status of Hellgate: London? Well, let us help confuse you a bit more. According to Korean publisher HanbitSoft, they're interested in resurrecting the game in the U.S. and Europe, but their hands are tied by Namco Bandai. Of course HanbitSoft acquired the title from Flagship, who was the original developer of the game. On top of this, the game is alive and well in Korea under HanbitSoft's domain.

Maybe Kee Young Kim, CEO of HanbitSoft, can explain it better: "HanbitSoft does own the intellectual property of Hellgate: London and is interested in providing the game in the US and Europe, but is unable to do so at this time because Namco Bandai has the publishing rights for those regions." Any way you look at it, it seems Hellgate: London is trying hard to come back to its loyal fans.

Hellgate: London is dead, for real this time

Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, Hellgate: London, Free-to-Play, Legal

It's up! It's down! It's up! It's down! It's... sideways?

That's the story for the ever growing saga of Hellgate: London in a nutshell. This time, however, it's not coming back and there should be no more rumors that it is coming back. HanbitSoft, the Asian publisher of the game, has finally clarified to GameCyte that they do not have the publishing rights to Hellgate: London in the United States or Europe, just in Asia, excluding Japan.

Currently those rights are held by Namco-Bandai, who have made the decision to shut down the Hellgate servers as of February 1st.

So it's not coming back. Even though it will still have press releases in English and have updates being made by a US developer, it's not coming back. However, if you really want to play, we suggest moving to Asia, as it will still be going strong over there.

Hellgate's US/EU servers and website slam shut

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Business Models, Culture, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, News Items, Hellgate: London

The show is now over for the Hellgate: London that we once knew. The game's servers and the official website have poofed, and stranded fans will now turn their attention towards HanbitSoft's grand plans to revive the troubled title in a free-to-play format, complete with new content and gameplay changes. HanbitSoft's press release did not specify a date for the re-launch, nor did it say which territories it will be servicing, so we're looking at a bit of downtime for the moment.

Scott from the Pumping Irony blog has written about his time spent online during Hellgate's final hours. Plenty of players turned up to see the "end of the world", and many donated their soon-to-be-worthless in-game currency to the War Drive NPC, granting buffs to the masses. Scott's transcript of the last few moments of chat are an indication of the kind of solidarity and sadness that the most faithful fans displayed as their world was crumbling around them. It's all on HanbitSoft now to save these folks from their Hellgate-less existence.

Hellgate: London staying alive through free-to-play

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Hellgate: London, Free-to-Play

Always named in the popular lists of "Failures for 2007/2008", Hellgate: London may not be dying off as easily as we thought. As reported by Gamasutra, HanbitSoft has announced that they will be keeping the game alive as a free-to-play model after the initial closure date of January 31st, 2009. They can do this (despite Namco-Bandai's decision to close the game) because they own the IP, engines and source codes for the Flagship Studios title.

In November of last year, we touched on this a bit, as HanbitSoft mentioned their continued efforts with the game, which might even include an expansion. At that time, the rumor was that it would be available only in Asia, yet this newest announcement is for global availability. This brings up an interesting thought though: If Hellgate: London can do it, can the others?

Red 5 Studios interview: How to fail-proof your MMO

Sci-Fi, Culture, Interviews, MMO Industry, Hellgate: London, Tabula Rasa

During a recent interview with Ten Ton Hammer, Red 5 Studios' Mark Kern described his views on why games like Tabula Rasa and Hellgate: London had recently failed, and how his colleagues at Red 5 are making sure an early game closure isn't in their future.

"I think the key is that you need to marry whatever your theme is to the nature of the gameplay,"
Kern advised. "I think that the issue comes in when you take a theme or a genre that doesn't fit with the style of gameplay that you're making. I think that's some of what you've seen with these failed games. If you just go out and try to make a WoW-type of game with a few tweaks, then try to place the sci-fi genre on top of it, I think you've got some big issues there."

Ouch! We can only speculate as to which game he's referring, but we tend to agree with his point here. Shoot us your opinions on a topic that's probably not going to go away any time soon.

Hanbitsoft admits their Hellgate rights don't extend to US/EU

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Hellgate: London

Hellgate London's state of flux over the past week has been somewhat infuriating for us to follow. No doubt it must be even moreso for players who just want to know if they'll get their game back after Namco Bandai's servers close in the spring. First it seemed that Hanbitsoft would be rezzing the game worldwide, then it was less clear based on Redbana's development. Now it seems even Hanbitsoft has acknowledged that they don't have rights to the game in the US and EU.

WarCry is reporting based on a press release from Namco specifically stating that they own the IP for publishing here in the states and over in Europe. Gamecyte follows that announcement up with a more detailed look, noting that Hanbitsoft would like to run the game and do some profitsharing with Namco for these two lucrative markets. Namco's position on the matter, though, seems to be that the service is closing and everyone is moving on. So - for the time being - it looks like we'll be bidding farewell to Hellgate London.

HanbitSoft plans Hellgate: London relaunch and new expansion

Horror, Expansions, MMO Industry, Hellgate: London, Rumors

The Hellgate: London IP saga continues. While we had some dire news that the servers will go dark at the end of January, we also know that development for the title is still being done in Redbana's California office... just not for which region. The latest word we've received on this seems to indicate the continuity of Hellgate: London, but to date this is only confirmed for service in Asia -- so we cannot (yet) offer a definitive, "Yes, HG:L will continue for North America and EU." That being said, Gamasutra has picked up on company blog posts by HanbitSoft's Global PR Manager, Janelle. One is a definitive announcement that HanbitSoft owns both the Hellgate: London and Mythos IP, while the other is more telling.

Janelle republished an email sent from Hellgate: London's Product Manager about the future of the title.The message in its entirety, as shown on the Game Espresso site for HanbitSoft, is reprinted below the cut.

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Are all MMOs just extended vaporware?

Fantasy, Horror, Fury, MMO Industry, Opinion, Hellgate: London

Massively multiplayer online games can be a difficult industry to break into and succeed. For every Blizzard or Sony Online Entertainment, there are several smaller companies brimming with ideas about how to inject change into the MMO market. Some succeed by breaking from the World of Warcraft paradigm. Most do not.

Writer James Matson writes about these titles that begin full of promise but ultimately meet a chilly reception by MMO gamers, in an article at Atomic. He touches on the fact that the sometimes high price of the box sale paired with monthly MMO fees, sustained over some months, leads to some serious disappointment when the MMO fails and the servers go dark. Matson specifically cites the examples of Auran's Fury and (what is currently Namco-Bandai's) Hellgate: London. "This would appear to the be the first tendrils of a new kind of gaming plague that's arrived with MMOs, games that can be rendered useless due to mismanagement, poor sales or just bad luck," Matson writes.

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Hellgate London status: Purgatory

Horror, Sci-Fi, Business Models, MMO Industry, Hellgate: London, Rumors

There have been so many twists and turns with the future of Hellgate: London (and Mythos) that it's hard to know what will happen next. We've heard on a few occasions that Hellgate: London was about to face its demise, only to be saved. Adding to the confusion was the dispute over who even owned Hellgate: London, Flagship Studios or HanbitSoft. After Flagship folded, HanbitSoft's claims seemed to be genuine, and the IP was left in the hands of T3 Entertainment. Subscriptions, however, were then suspended. Shortly afterwards Namco-Bandai swept in, prominently featured HG: L on its site... and subsequently removed it. Despite this, the game has been kept running ever since, although Namco-Bandai's stated that the servers will shut down at the end of January, 2009.

Gaming site HellForge has picked up on what we're not ready to call anything more than 'rumor' at this point, but something that perhaps bodes well for the future of the game. Another company name has been thrown into the mix: Redbana (based in Taiwan, connected with the aforementioned T3 Entertainment). HellForge writes: "Further research leads to findings of a new San Francisco office for the company, which is where Hellgate offices were located previously." This seems to be in line with what we reported about the future of both titles in August. While we hope this information could be a positive sign for Hellgate: London and perhaps Mythos as well, at this point it's still largely conjecture.

[Via Blue's News]

Hellgate: London to shut down in February

Sci-Fi, Hellgate: London

The game's official site has the news that Hellgate: London is going to go sunset at the beginning of next year. February will see the closure of all of the game's servers. Until that point, the service will continue to be free of charge. All the way back in July we reported on the suspension of new subscriptions and the acquisition of the property by Namco-Bandai. Now it appears as though the company has decided to cut its losses.

The announcement on the game's site spins it in a very upbeat way, stating that they would "continue to support customers of PC game Hellgate™: London with online server support and play through January 31, 2009 despite the closure of Flagship Studios." We've heard no further details on the service since the middle of the summer; hopefully we'll have further details for you soon.

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