In a somewhat surprising move, DreamCatcher today announced that it will be publishing Universal Combat: A World Apart, the follow-up to the space simulation title Universal Combat. The PC game will be available as both an expansion to the original and as a stand-alone sequel. It is being developed by 3000AD and is scheduled to ship in March 2005.
The announcement may get a double take from many in the industry familiar with the turbulent relationship between the title's publisher and developer. DreamCatcher and 3000AD were locked in a very public, ugly legal battle over the release of Universal Combat in 2004. The publisher pushed for a 2003 holiday release to spike sales, but 3000AD's perfectionist ways couldn't meet the deadline, forcing several retailers to back out on holiday orders.
The delay cost DreamCatcher financially, and when the game was finally released in February 2004 (to little critical and retail success), the publisher released it at a budgeted price point of $19.99...without discussing the move with 3000AD or its notoriously brash chief Derek Smart.
Pounding his fists on the floor, Smart and company filed suit against DreamCatcher, claiming the publisher slashed the price of the game to hurt 3000AD financially. The suit was eventually settled, but the rocky relationship between Smart and DreamCatcher remained.
Originally dubbed as the Battlecruiser franchise, the Universal Combat series launches gamers into space in highly technical simulations that feature interplanetary exploration and vehicular combat in space, on land, and at sea. A World Apart adds two main single-player campaigns, two multiplayer cooperative scenarios, improved graphics, and new vehicles and weapons.
We'll have more information on Universal Combat: A World Apart soon.