E3 2008: Flagship still afloat

Studio presses on despite layoff of "most employees," shuts down subscriptions, billing for Hellgate: London.

During the run-up to the E3 Media & Business Summit, reports proliferated online stating that Flagship Studios, the development house behind PC online action game Hellgate: London, had laid off its entire staff, lost its intellectual property rights, and shut down operations.

According to a statement released by the studio today, reports of its demise have been exaggerated, although perhaps not so greatly. The company acknowledged that it had laid off "most employees," but emphasized that the core management team, including CEO and cofounder Bill Roper, remains at the helm.

"The past five years have been an incredible experience for us," Roper said, "but unfortunately, we couldn't sustain the size of the company any longer."

The San Francisco-based Flagship was formed in 2003 by employees from Blizzard North, the development house behind the hugely successful Diablo series. After appearing at three straight E3s, Flagship's first project, Hellgate: London, made it to retail stores on October 31, 2007. While the game has sold more than 200,000 copies in the US according to NPD Group figures, the initial release was riddled with bugs, a frustration that likely cost the title some early-adopter subscribers.

Flagship is no longer accepting new subscribers for Hellgate, and current subscribers won't be billed any longer. As for its technology and the intellectual properties of Hellgate and the still-in-development Mythos, Flagship still owns all of the associated rights.

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77 comments
leoleez
leoleez

hanbit soft will burn for trying to take Hellgate, they have no right. What has hanbit done? Have u played Korean Starcraft? the best seller? It was in english with no korean at all...

Atombomb1981
Atombomb1981

FSS should sink for real... Those people should never be allowed to create games ever. And to think these were some of the people that worked for Blizzard...

Foreward66
Foreward66

i heard it was like the biggest release in south korea in like 4 years

Jackyll87
Jackyll87

There was nothing new and innovative about hellgate. It was just a FPS kind of WoW.

leofiregod
leofiregod

that sucks. I was planning on getting Hellgate eventually

KhanhAgE
KhanhAgE

Sad news. But Flagship would have to admit the subscription model they chose was absolutely stupid from the start. Did it ever look like it was going to work?

dark_being
dark_being

Lucky for me I didn't buy this game

icym
icym

I'm glad to hear Flagship is still around, despite its current status. Hellgate was certainly a rare and original idea. I hope they bounce back and give us more.

Deckard2323
Deckard2323

I got the game shortly after it was released. I was disappointed with its repetitive nature. Music was uninteresting. Level variety limited to a handful of templates (sewer, street, subway). Grouping with other players was non-existent (unless you played with friends). Graphics, although pretty at first, soon became bland and monotonous. I remember thinking "They want to charge a subscription fee for this? They must be joking."

buttface1
buttface1

that's what happens when you work with EA... sorry guys.

Alex1029
Alex1029

All I got to say is, wow. Sucks for them.

Bretwalda
Bretwalda

I been playing a founders sub since last October. Visually I must say the game is still impressive, I think they had something going with the random loot, unfortunately the appearance and stats yielded by such items is rarely noticeable, or impressive, after awhile playing. Most the time you find yourself playing in lonely tunnels to nowhere, and recycling loot into scraps for minor modifications to weapons that last you about a day. The subscription MMO side of it, was a deceptive $ making sham from the start. This had to be the most deceptively over-hyped game ever for what it delivered at a last minutes notice that it was pay-to-play. All that said I'll probably play once a week until the servers go down entirely.

burnupblade
burnupblade

I love the fact that they couldnt give a different experience...single player is multiplayer just a bit mroe lonely...the game forces you to go online and have fun with other people...i could never play with an engineer for the bots would fill my screen and make me lag...weapons and items were so similar...even teh best equips are the final items you buy from a normal shop but with just added effects...so no legendary solar cannon or armor that makes the room glow when you enter the room...its always a pain when someoen asks the specs of an armor...too bad all they needed to do was learn from their mistakes...

wayofthesauce
wayofthesauce

Good riddens to a bad company. I played the game during beta. It was simply amazing at the time. Sure there were a few bugs but I finally got to put my dx10 laptop to the test and it was a lot of fun. I remember making an engineer and running aorund with my friend who went defender. He would charge in and beat the **** out of everything with a flaming sword while I had a triple rocket launcher and a bunch of rocket bots. It was a ton of fun despite some lack of polish. Then we get really excited for the final game. Launch day comes and...I got screwed. It didn't even work correctly when I started. I had to mess around with a .dll file because the game was trying to force itself into dx10 mode but there was a bug with dx10 mode apparently...But we got into it again after that issue got sroted out only to find that multiplayer was buggy as hell, half the time we couldn't see each other! Then came the "random" maps which would contain a dead end or the quests of "kill 10 of monster x" well guess what - there's only going to be 10 f monster x on the whole level so have fun. The breaking point was when I made a fighter and the game glitched out and I couldn't get the quest to leave the first area. I literally could not leave the starting area nor could I even run through the areas that were availabe there, it blocked me out of them. It is inredibly sad when the beta version is a far superior product than the finished game. I was insulted. I felt used and upset. And as if they hadn't made enough mistakes, each patch notcie came with a little "subscriber only" disclaimer. Oh so you want me to pay 50$ for a buggy game and then pay 10$ a month to get the fixes for this 50$ game? No, not happening. I never want to see flagship exist ever again, there's a reason those employees left blizzard. Oh and their other project, Mythos, is a very very very bad diablo II clone...released about 5 or 6 years AFTER diablo II.

doctorj11111
doctorj11111

I just subscribed last month and have noticed I have not been billed in July yet? So does that mean I am a subcriber for life for only paying $10? I am just worried I will be billed 6 months down the road for all the months I haven't paid.

lettuceman44
lettuceman44

So, what will happen to Hellgate: London?

Hokkie
Hokkie

So if I picked up Hellgate:London what would I be missing out on?

foxxkat
foxxkat

their website looks dead too.. no updates for long time. career postings still up there.. www.cavedog.com anyone? i feel the media plays a part in the harsh critics leveled against them. check back past news and articles.. NONE of it fail to mention "..the team behind the successful Diablo.." in every news bits, u're sure to read something along that line. this adds to hype and raise expectations.. coupled with some bad decisions on the game and a blood-sucker money-hungry publisher.. wat do u get? GG

RomanKingNYC
RomanKingNYC

GREED is what killed Hellgate London. They decided to add the so called on-line portion to cash in on the MMO craze and it back fired. I waited for this game with high hopes and was so disappointed in the end. The bugs and lack of depth killed the game. Lets hope that they fare better with their Fate clone Mythos. I logged on to see if anything had changed in two months and it was a wasteland, no one was on. Next time don't let the studio pressure you into doing something you don't want, like adding untested MMO features just before release... Shame on you Flagship!

HalfBak3dM0nkey
HalfBak3dM0nkey

This should interest you guys. "Hellgate: London, which hit shelves this week on June 26th in Japan, has topped the country's PC game sales list according to online retail website Amazon" Posted by: Scapes on Sat, 06/28/2008 That's from the official website, so I'm wondering...why did they think they could re-release an unsupported game?

HalfBak3dM0nkey
HalfBak3dM0nkey

Flagship deserved every bit they got. Not only for the game riddled with bugs, but the deceit behind exploring "London" in the game, and the lack of patches. The team couldn't even release a SP patch until 6 months after the game's release. I actually looked into the GameSpot "Hellgate: London" update to hope that the studio behind it would offer some more content or actually give a damn about their own game. I can only think of those people that paid the upfront $150 Finder's Fee to have an unlimited subscription that got ripped off by Flagship Studio's treachery.

liljimy
liljimy

I was actually thinking of doing the founder's offer. I had $150 from my birthday. I waited thinking $150 was too much to spend on one game. i started playing it and it was overly repetitive. They said each level was made up of randomly generated areas. Well each level was pre-made "blocks" of really predictable configurations. I was disappointed when the subscriptions had the things that SHOULD be the features of a standard account... there are reasons why this game was doomed before it was released: First, blizzard only releases their games when they're ready and there is an obvious reason why... Second, I wouldn't go around bousting that you're the same guys who made up the diablo series because that will give misleading information that you don't want as a new developer. It would be a lot better to make your new fans make they're own conclusions if you're worthy enough. Third and last point, well lets just say that if the hellgate is in London lets make it look like it really was placed in london. At least have a background with some particularly unique places only found in London. They might as well have a level placed on the golden gate bridge and it wouldn't make it feel any less unique to london than before. I loved the game from the beginning. Although, I only played it for a couple of months and quit. The fact that they made up a lot of misleading information made it hard to trust my birthday money in this game. I'm glad to have saved that $150 because i can buy starcraft 2, diablo 3, and the Orange Box and last myself a lot longer than this game would have ever lasted.

Spider_Man14
Spider_Man14

so dose that mean that people who subscribed will always have those benefits for free now? and other people that may want those benefits can never get them?

bassbomber20
bassbomber20

Think maybe they'll get a clue now? I think my time in Hellgate lasted about 3 months then I felt no urge to play it anymore and see the same recycled cities / subway over and over and over and over again. You know where these employees went? back to develop Diablo 3... something that is actually going to be more worthwile than Hellgate London, and something that may actually give Gothic 3 a run for it's money.

Judge_Omega
Judge_Omega

Hellgate is the best game since guildwars. I dont see how they could possibly lose money on this game. Every day i play it and want more, to bad they didnt deliver.

nightfend
nightfend

Lifetime subscribers really did get the raw end of the deal. They paid $150 for a game that lasted less than a year? Talk about a rip off.

zeus_gb
zeus_gb

Hellgate had a lot of potential but it failed to deliver.

DryvBy4Ever
DryvBy4Ever

Wait, so can I just freely go to Stonehenge? What about 2.0 patch?

Avenger1324
Avenger1324

Essentially FSS has ceased business, but they kept the founders and accountants on to sort out the mess before quietly slipping into bankruptcy when no one is paying attention. Hellgate had a disastrous launch, was riddled with bugs, and was coupled with an MMO-style subscription system that never seemed to offer the benefits that come with proper MMO-subs. Most of the stuff you were paying for should have been part of the standard game. Hellgate was one of the biggest disappointments of last year, and while many good studios have gone in recent months, I'm not disappointed to see Flagship go.

skyline7284
skyline7284

Its always sad to see a dev. go under, or atleast mostly under. Hellgate sounds like the Sims Online, crashed and burned :( Nobody can really compete with WoW, Age of Conan tried, and has done well, but it won't pass WoW. :( *sigh* Goodluck Flagship Studios

Crzy1
Crzy1

Hellgate: London was an interesting concept, but it was one of the biggest disappointments I've come across lately. I wasn't able to get past the bugs in the first few weeks and never paid for an online account since I couldn't stay connected to the normal servers for over 5 minutes. Can't say I'm all that sorry for them, they shouldn't have rushed the game like they did, could have been so much more, but instead it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Viryn_Sane
Viryn_Sane

I think it's funny how it was just announced that they have something like 1 million subscribers and are doing strong...and then this happens. The game is not a BAD game...it's just not that good. The bugs at release were extremely painful, to the point you couldn't even play it. I stuck around and watched the patches and they finally fixed it, but I think the damage was done. So long Flagship...we had a few good nights. I'll call you sometime...

Icky27
Icky27

Let them be an example of what happens when you rush a game to market. They deserved it.

Netherscourge
Netherscourge

I feel bad for the Lifetime Subscribers who paid $150 at launch for the Lifetime Subscription - they got completely screwed by this.

Gooshnads
Gooshnads

hellgate had a lot of potential... but in the end it felt kinda rushed i only wished it FELT more like diablo than just another RPG but it did feel like just another RPG

deathknight107
deathknight107

I have nothing against these guys but I wish they put more work into hellgate london to rid themselves of more bugs. If they did then it would ahve retained its flair. but alas they did not and it cost them

zathe0
zathe0

hellgate london is one of my best games, why... please show me another fps / hack and slash with random item drops, fallout 3 doesn't count. but do have to say it came out buggy and should had waited and they should had did the guild wars online market, only get 3 slots and you buy more and pay more for hardcore slots, and extra content sold those for oh 10 bones that why you buy what you want and not just wait for new stuff , even with all that said i still love them game and will be sad if it shuts down

Neoyamaneko
Neoyamaneko

Hellgate = One of the biggest disappointments on PC in the past 5 years.

thatmy
thatmy

I have done my best by having 2 pcs of Hellgate London. Singapore Government Dogs jumped my quene again! U want PROOF, U GOT IT! HAHA

EmeraldBunny
EmeraldBunny

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

oldogg
oldogg

i hear blizzard's hiring...

forhekset
forhekset

Didn't see this coming. /sarcasm Meanwhile the franchise that made them popular in the first place is taking off yet again... without them.

DukeEdwardI
DukeEdwardI

i feel for these guys. they had a great idea and i think they could have easily pulled it off if it weren't for EA. i almost guarantee that EA gave them a deadline and flagship was forced into releasing a buggy game which received less than stellar reviews and made a lot of people angry. GL former flagship employees. hope you get back on your feet soon.