Flagship CEO Bill Roper has said Hellgate: London’s failure boils down to simple over-ambition.
“We were a single-player game, or you could go online and play for free,” Roper told Gamasutra. “And there was also this hybrid subscription model that you could get into, and the game was coming out on the new Windows platform, and we were part of the Games for Windows program.
“We shipped in 17 languages, we had a very high-end graphics engine that we had built but at the same time we did low-poly versions of the game. I mean, the list just went on and on and on.”
“I think that was where our ‘growing up Blizzard’ hurt us, right?” he continued. “Because at Blizzard you just go for it. Every time you swing, you swing for the fences.”
The ex-Blizzard staff of Flagship, a fledgling independent studio, had suddenly lost an enormous safety blanket in the form of the publisher’s willingness to extend deadlines.
“We’d go in there and say, ‘We need to take six more months. This is why. This is the benefit you will see from it,’” Roper said. “There was always the support [at Blizzard] to say, ‘You know what? If that’s what you need to make this game great, then that’s what we’ll get for you. We’ll figure it out.’”
Without Blizzard’s support, Hellgate: London shipped when the money ran out.
“I mean, I think when Hellgate: London came out… we knew it needed another four to six months. The publishers knew it needed another four to six months. … The publishers were like, ‘Hey, we’re invested. We’re in. We’re as in as we’re going to get.’ So, the game’s got to come out, right? You get to that point.”
Hellgate: London opened its infernal doors for business in late 2007, but immediately encountered problems. Flagship closed down in August 2008, with Hellgate itself following suit in January 2009. Hanbitsoft continues development and support of the game in Korea only, and has indicated its consideration of a new US server.