Flagship Sunk, Who's In Charge of Hellgate?


Word started passing yesterday that Flagship Studios went caput, and now multiple sites are reporting that the Hellgate developer is indeed no more.

We got an anonymous tipster who said Flagship shut down abruptly yesterday, and that developers for both Hellgate (San Francisco) and Mythos (Seattle) have all been pink-slipped. "But there's also hope that they will all have their jobs back at the end of next week at a brand new company," our tipster says.

But wait, there's more. Flagship's Korean partners/owners, Hanbitsoft, were said to be taking over. That sparked a foofaraw regarding who owns the Hellgate intellectual property.

Fan site Hellgate Guru first reported that HanbitSoft was taking full control of Hellgate: London and intended to continue the game. That brought a forceful denial from Flagship, and confirmation from HanbitSoft's own attorneys (who slipped in a backhanded dig at the failing studio, which pretty much confirms Flagship's demise.)

HanbitSoft's attorneys said that while they're an exclusive licensee of Hellgate and Mythos, it's been pledged only the Mythos IP. Secured lender Comerica gets the Hellgate IP as collateral on the loan. Either way, Flagship does not own either, and also:

[I]t is unfortunate that Flagship turned down additional investments HanbitSoft offered to make that would have allowed it to keep its doors open, but HanbitSoft hopes to work with Comerica and some of the team at Flagship to see if there is a way to continue to generate content to keep Hellgate online in Asia and to finish the development of Mythos.

That sounds like the "brand new company" possibility our tipster mentioned. Either way, HanbitSoft says it threw Flagship a lifeboat, and it chose to go to the bottom. Ouch.

Finally, VE3D says it got more confirmation early this morning:

Flagships's Community Manager, Taylor Balbi, has revealed, through sources, that all Ping0 and Flagship Studios staff have been made redundant. Employees were notified at a company meeting and subsequently informed that the offices will be officially closed on Saturday. Balbi went on to reveal that three of the studio's top brass dug into their own pockets to provide 30 days of pay to all employees.

Our source says an official announcement will come next week (like what, at E3?)

Flagship Studios' Closure Confirmed, All Staff Fired, All I.P. Lost [Voodoo Extreme]