The writing has been on the wall for some time, and now it's official: Hellgate: London will be taken offline as of February 1, 2009. As has been the case since Flagship Studios' collapse was revealed this July, Namco Bandai will continue to operate the game free of charge through January 31.
Launched October 31, 2007, Flagship Studios' ill-fated massively multiplayer online game quickly drew withering criticism from its user base due to the prevalence of crippling bugs. The game also suffered from unwieldy expectations, due in large part to the pedigree of its developer. Counted among its founding members were former Blizzard North brass David Brevik, Max and Eric Schaefer, and Tyler Thompson.
Highest-profile of Flagship's founders was former Blizzard North vice president Bill Roper, who oversaw the creation of many of Blizzard Entertainment's most lucrative properties, including Warcraft, Diablo, and Starcraft. In January of this year, Roper addressed Hellgate's rocky launch with GameSpot, saying, "Unfortunately, even the best and biggest MMOs launch with serious issues. Being able to basically sit and iterate on a game for over half a year isn't something you can really sell to a publisher, or fans, to be honest."