Take-Two drops Champions Online

Publisher no longer championing superhero-themed MMORPG following Atari's acquisition of its developer, Cryptic Studios.

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When Atari announced its acquisition of Cryptic Studios last week, it answered the question of who would publish Star Trek Online. However, it raised doubts about the publisher of the Los Gatos, California-based shop's other massively multiplayer project, Champions Online for the PC and Xbox 360. On the eve of the E3 Media & Business Summit this past July, 2K Games announced that it would distribute the pen-and-paper RPG-inspired title, which began life as the now-canceled Marvel Universe Online.

"Um, yeah...I just don't think this is going to work out. We can still be friends!"

With none of the parties commenting, the publishing status of Champions Online lingered in purgatory for a week. Today, though, 2K parent Take-Two Interactive gave a definitive answer on the publishing question--in the negative. "We no longer intend to publish the MMOG Champions Online due to Atari's acquisition of Cryptic," said Take-Two president Ben Feder in a post-earnings conference call with analysts.

Take-Two's exit wasn't totally unexpected, as acquisitions often scupper preexisting publishing agreements. The biggest exception to this is Star Wars: The Old Republic, which continues to be developed by BioWare for LucasArts despite Electronic Arts' 2007 purchase of the former. Speaking to GameSpot, executives from both BioWare and LucasArts pointed to the success of their previous joint venture, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, as a reason for their continued collaboration.

With Atari now firmly ensconced in the publisher's seat, it remains to be seen whether or not Champions Online will stick to its previously announced spring 2009 release date. On the one hand, the game only bore a general "2009" release window when mentioned in the Atari acquisition announcement. On the other, Cryptic has ramped up work on the project, enlisting famed Diablo and Hellgate: London cocreator Bill Roper to work on the project.

For more on Champions Online, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

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