There's no better way to put it than to say that from the start, Hellgate: London looked all kinds of cool. Oh sure, you can scoff now with your perfect 20/20 hindsight, but I'm betting that more than a few of you thought the same with me around that time. Diablo but with guns and an online persistence -- how could we not be intrigued? One of my most vivid memories was being torn between the idea of buying a lifetime subscription deal for $150 (again, this was before the free-to-play era, but also before the era of us spending the same money on alpha access. I'm just saying that you can't judge me.).
I didn't buy the lifetime sub, if you were wondering, but I did play. I even enjoyed Hellgate: London for a month or so, although something about it never quite clicked with me. It was only after I bailed that I watched with horror that one of the most infamous chapters of video game disasters took place. It's kind of like when you look at pictures of an earthquake and say to anyone near, "I was just standing there a week ago..."
From its giddy heights of pre-launch hype to the crash simply known as being "Flagshipped" to its subsequent resurrections (yes, plural), Hellgate is a fascinating tale of a good idea, a terrible launch, corporate scapegoating, and improbable survival.