Star Trek Online dev beamed up by mystery buyer

[UPDATE] Perpetual Entertainment liquidates assets, is acquired by "media company"; conflicting reports say the game may become "more casual."

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It's been a rough year for Perpetual Entertainment. On October 10, the San Francisco-based developer announced that Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising, its Greco-Roman mythology-inspired massively multiplayer online role-playing game, had been put on "indefinite hold."

The promising project was effectively canceled so Perpetual could focus more on another MMORPG, Star Trek Online. The studio was formed in 2004 shortly before it landed the coveted license based on the iconic science-fiction television and film series. At the time, the company announced it had also acquired $6.5 million in financing to develop the PC project, which had been rumored to be coming to the Xbox 360. In 2006, South Korean publisher Gravity Ltd. invested a further $9 million in Perpetual for a stake in the company.

Unfortunately, it now appears that Perpetual's sources of funding aren't perpetual at all. According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing made by Gravity shortly before Thanksgiving, Perpetual quietly liquidated its assets the day it canceled Gods & Heroes. "Gravity does not anticipate recovering any portion of the Company’s original investment of US $9 million made in Perpetual in 2006," read the filing.

Does that mean it's game over for Perpetual and the Star Trek MMOG? Not exactly. The SEC filing says that Perpetual Entertainment's assets were transferred to a limited liability company, Perpetual LLC. The filing called for Perpetual LLC "to liquidate the assets, wind down Perpetual, and distribute the net liquidation proceeds to creditors of Perpetual."

Today, the plot thickened when Shacknews learned that since the SEC filing, Perpetual has been acquired by an unnamed media company. Citing an e-mail from an anonymous source close to the studio, Perpetual's mystery owner "is looking to use Star Trek Online to make its first major inroads into the video game market."

Perhaps more disturbingly, said company is also interested in making Star Trek Online "more casual." One possibility is that the project would now emulate free-to-play Korean MMOGs, which derive revenue from in-game item sales. According to Shacknews' source, this change in direction has led to a number of resignations at Perpetual, although its management team is apparently still in place.

[UPDATE] However, GameSpot has learned that a recent showing of Star Trek Online at Perpetual's offices was of the original MMORPG, and not a more casual model. A source close to the studio said that to his or her knowledge, the game has remained largely unchanged since the buyout.

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