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Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

Flagship Studios Going Under 160

Lunatrik writes "In a not entirely unexpected turn of events, Flagship Studios, the producers of the bug-ridden (at release!) game Hellgate: London is going under, as reported by multiple sources. In addition, many current subscribers to the game are finding themselves unable to cancel their subscriptions due to 'technical errors.'"
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Flagship Studios Going Under

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  • I'm failing to see what one would subscribe to in a game such as that?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

      They were releasing a lot of subscriber-only content so one who subscribes gets a crapton of new features. No idea if it's worth it, I didn't subscribe (and didn't play online as offline play had no lag).

      • Re:Blizzard (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jellybob ( 597204 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @06:16AM (#24171187) Journal

        More accurate would be to say they were going to release subscriber-only content - the last time I looked they'd so far released a new area to play in.

        Oh, and you got a chest to keep stuff in for your other characters.

        As far as I can tell, that is the sum total of what you get for subscribing to the game. I can't say I'm surprised by them not being able to sustain the business model, but I'll be sad to see them go.

        • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

          Weren't there two sets of subscriber-only updates, the two Chronicles things? Or was the second not released?

        • So they sell you the game, then charge you extra for add ons... In a subscription based format. Wow. Did someone tell them the PC market doesn't work that way? And where on earth did these guys get the idea we needed another Diablo clone?.. Oh my bad, I meant to say another "spiritual successor".

          Hah, good riddance is all I can say, may be the Blizzard North guys can get on with the next 18 Wheels of Steel [] game.
  • by Bieeanda ( 961632 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @02:38AM (#24170323)
    People have had trouble canceling their accounts since HGL launched, for god's sake. Half the system thinks that they've canceled, but the charge still goes through to the credit card... and of course, since they're supposedly not subscribed, they can't cancel a second time.
    • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @03:16AM (#24170495) Journal

      Well.. send a copy of whatever info you get along to your credit card company, along with the most important piece of information: Your desire for them not to accept any more charges from the company. Make it the CC company's problem, and see how quickly it gets resolved.

      I'm pretty sure the CC companies would take you at your word, ANYWAY, but a lil' proof doesn't hurt.

      • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @03:29AM (#24170549)

        They don't have a choice. Consumer protection on credit cards is very strong. If you say "I'm not paying this" then you don't. The bank blocks the charge and that's that. If they company wants your money, they have to pursue you through other means. It's different with a debit card, since then the bank has already given the money to the company, so it is then somewhat discretionary on their part. However in the case of a credit card you are just disputing that you owe any money.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Tim C ( 15259 )

          It's different with a debit card, since then the bank has already given the money to the company, so it is then somewhat discretionary on their part.

          While it can be harder to get the money back, you can definitely stop them from taking any more of your money in the future. Note however that the last time I had to do that sort of thing, my bank (Abbey in the UK) had to issue me a new debit card to stop the payments, they couldn't (or wouldn't) simply refuse them. That was a hassle, but it worked.

          • >>While it can be harder to get the money back, you can definitely stop them from taking any more of your money in the future.

            Credit Card companies that I talked to in the past (when an MMORPG refused to unsubscribe me, a similar situation to the HGL issue here), said they couldn't block future purchases from the company, but that I'd have to dispute each one.

            >>Note however that the last time I had to do that sort of thing, my bank (Abbey in the UK) had to issue me a new debit card

  • what next? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by crazybit ( 918023 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @02:39AM (#24170327)

    some massive amount of lawsuits?

    if the game servers shut down completely do players/customers have the rights for at least getting their money back?

    • Re:what next? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bieeanda ( 961632 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @02:53AM (#24170393)
      Chances are that there's wording in the subscription contract that negates any 'right' to accessibility or usability. There was a class-action suit against Ultima Online ten years ago, over what amounted to lag, and it's been standard boilerplate since.

      Also, while Flagship and Ping0 are going the way of the dodo, the Hellgate and Mythos IP are owned lock, stock and barrel by two other companies. Chances are that HGL will continue to limp along for a while, but the likelihood of serious patching and new content is low.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I doubt there is anything the customers can do because there is a single player element to the game, which is exactly the same as multiplayer. They will say that you still have all the game content.
      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        Well, this gives a whole new meaning to "lifetime subscription"! Well, my interest gave out before Flagship did, so I'm not bemoaning the loss.

  • by ( 142825 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @02:40AM (#24170339) Homepage

    Since they won't let you cancel, then call your credit card company and cancel with the credit card company.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2008 @03:03AM (#24170429)

      New York, NY, July 22nd, 2008

      In a surprise move, AOL announced today that it has successfully completed acquisition of Flagship Studios. Citing 'synergistic' account-cancellation policies in both companies, an AOL spokesperson verified that customer support services will be switched over immediately in order to preserve the customer base.

      When questioned about future support for the Hellgate: London online game, or the takeover of any other facet of the business, the spokesperson replied, "Huh?"


    • by diopter72 ( 1324853 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @03:16AM (#24170497)
      Mod the parent post up so people who are in this mess can see it. In addition, after calling the credit card company, you can also ask to subsequently block all charges from said source (i.e., Flagship Studio or whatever you would see in your billing statement). I don't know if all CC companies do this, but this kind of feature is usually put in place for the repeated bogus/spam charges where you get billed for something bogus, and you keep getting billed for it once a month. This way you don't have to call every month.
      • Depending on where you live and your local laws, this could be a bad idea. At least try and wait a few days to see what happens on the cancellation problems, unless it's really imprtant to get it one by a certain date.
        Because you have entered a cotract for a service, and depending on the conditions you might still owe them money. So you could end up with a bill for the subscription plus extra charges for delaying the payment etc.

    • by ILuvRamen ( 1026668 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @03:28AM (#24170547)
      if your product wasn't delivered/provided as promised, you can fill out a chargeback form with your credit card company. A couple dozen of those from different people and the credit card company will look into what happened, see they're all valid, and immediately approve all chargebacks against that company. Cancelling your card is a lot more of a pain, though a good way for the retention department to increase your credit limit lol.
      • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

        Doesn't too much of that get the account of the company making the charges locked?

        • Yes. There are strict standards that you have to adhere to if you want to process credit cards, and if you breach them then the company will either fine you, or in extreme situations revoke your rights to process credit cards.

          PCI-DSS on Wikipedia []

        • Well yes and no the way you said it. Stupid turkish credit card scammers got the whole payment system for SRO shut down like very other week cuz they had so many chargebacks. The same happened with too many stolen paypal accounts being paid to the same company (SRO's company) But basically it just shut down pending investigation after hitting the limit, they told them to be more careful and try to stop it, and then re-enabled their credit card/paypal system.
    • Well that sucks. I just signed up for 2 subscriptions Friday. So it sounds like I'm going to have to go through some headaches to cancel now.

  • That's too bad. I don't play the game, but I did pick up the trade paperback of the comic series and the first two novels. I rather enjoyed them, despite a serious lack of editing on the second novel. Any news on whether the last book is still coming out, at least?
  • Fight over IP (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If you RTFA you'll see more signs of an overpopulation of lawyers in our society.

    "No this is our IP"
    "No its ours! You'll be hearing from our lawyers"
    "Rabble rabble rabble"

    Sigh @ our species

  • A Good Thing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Naelok ( 1162515 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @03:27AM (#24170545)
    This is not really surprising. I was in the game's beta and there was really nothing memorable about the thing. Just Diablo 2 in 3d with a ridiculous modern setting and crummy level design (if you've seen one office building full of demons, believe me... you've seen them all). I'm glad to see that that sort of mediocrity hasn't been rewarded.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by KDR_11k ( 778916 )

      The run and gun gameplay was different to Diablo. Yeah, the overall design was very close to Diablo but playing it as an if-it-moves-shoot-it type FPS worked pretty well for me.

    • Re:A Good Thing (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BJH ( 11355 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @04:18AM (#24170743)

      The beta pretty much sucked, but the game's been in good shape since the Stonehenge expansion came out.
      A lot of people were looking forward to the 2.0 patch release, so I hope whatever deal Flagship works out covers it...

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      This is not really surprising. I was in the game's beta and there was really nothing memorable about the thing. Just Diablo 2 in 3d [...]

      You do realize that "Just Diablo 2 in 3D" would have half of slashdot's readers drooling uncontrollably?
      Unfortunately, Hellgate: London was no such thing. It was more of a Daikatana with multiplayer.

      • There pretty much is a Diablo 2 in 3D. It's called Titan Quest. It's a blatant Diablo clone, but it improves the core gameplay in just enough ways to make it interesting.

    • Hellgate was exactly the sort of game I like. I guess my tastes are not popular enough to matter these days. I'm sick of WoW shit.

      • I liked it also and I'm kind of sad to see Flagship go. I'm not buying Diablo 3, as it looks to be way too much like WoW, which I loathe. None of the people who actually created Diablo (a separate company bought by Blizzard) work for Blizzard anymore. Diablo 1 and 2 were the only Blizzard games I liked at all. The *craft series is a joke, IMO.

  • Not a huge suprise (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Foo2rama ( 755806 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @03:30AM (#24170553) Homepage Journal
    Been looking for this for awhile, Hellgate has been pretty much a flop. The lucrative SE Asia market never launched and rumors of a bad deal cut with those distributors allowed them to not pay a dime untill the game was what they wanted. Since the game has issues it was never launched, there goes about 15 million in rev that they had planned on.

    In other news no one in the western market can understand their pricing model...

    I really wanted to like this game I spent 4 hours trying to like this game... They missed a few small tweaks in UI could have made the game alot better... At least we have the real Diablo III soon.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Khyber ( 864651 )

      "The lucrative SE Asia market never launched"

      That's because the SE Asia market has been cornered by a FREE GAME, Maiet's "Gunz: The Duel"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      At least we have the real Diablo III soon.

      For large values of soon?

      Christmas 2010 seems optimistic -- and if it doesn't, you haven't been paying attention to the speed of Blizzard's releases in the past.

  • Fuck EA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BJH ( 11355 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @03:30AM (#24170555)

    1) Find a promising unreleased property
    2) Get your fingers in the pie via the back door by working a deal with one of the existing publishers
    3) Force an early release to get the cash from package sales
    4) PROFIT!
    5) Refuse to bail out the developers when they're swamped with bug reports
    6) Walk away laughing with money in your pocket

    Looks like WAR is their next target...

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @03:50AM (#24170647) Journal
    "Nice clusterfuck you got goin' there. Be a pity if the rats all filed chargebacks before they left the ship..."
  • Reminds me of... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by T3Tech ( 1306739 ) <tj.t3technet@com> on Sunday July 13, 2008 @03:51AM (#24170649) Homepage
    AOL... didn't they have an issue with subscribers not being able to cancel their 'subscription' ... in most cases for several months?
    1)User/customer requests to cancel account
    2)ignore their request as long as possible
    4)Deal with credit card dispute - haggle for a couple months to let the interest accrue
    5)refund customer most of the disputed amount
  • by G00F ( 241765 )

    Now everyone who bought the game can not play multi-player (the only reason most people buy games now days)

    • Now everyone who bought the game can not play multi-player (the only reason most people buy games now days)

      Granted I play MMO's which is decidedly multiplayer. Any other game, console or PC I generally stick to single player or multiplayer over the LAN. It didn't have to be this way, I had a blast playing on Xbox Live! The first 6 months... Then the players got younger... They got much better... and they got much, much, much more obscene, vulgar and racist. Nowadays if I do any online multiplayer it's generally late at night or earlier in the day when I can play with the brits or aussies. Much nicer crowd.

  • What about their other game, Mythos?
  • Hee hee hee (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @05:28AM (#24170965) Journal

    Just wait till something like this happens with Microsoft's upcoming subscription model for Office, and you get locked out of your documents. Fun times ahead. Be sure to save in ODF...

    • Just wait till something like this happens with Microsoft's upcoming subscription model for Office, and you get locked out of your documents. Fun times ahead. Be sure to save in ODF...

      This has actually already happened at least twice. I was going over some old PC Gamers while on the jon and sure enough there was an article about a subscription based gaming company. More akin to Steam then to Gametap. Anyways they went under, but the CEO or what not had a backup plan and simply released some code that would allow the games to be patched to run without a central sever... Ya know I'm sure that could get you into a legal mess with the wrong developers, I never heard more on that ill-fated co

  • Flagship studios was so full of themselves. I knew hellgate london would flop as soon as I saw the title. It made no sense and the lack of 2d isometric (3d rendered) view I knew would kill this game with the variety of easy to play MMO's, and the fact that Hellgate is an action game. The action just doesn't feel the same in 3D, the feel of the game is way off and nowhere near as fun as say diablo 2, I'm sure many diablo fans were hoping it would be good and had the same issues. Doing a 3D action game li

    • You're saying the people who created Diablo don't have enough talent to make a 3D Diablo?

      You realize most of the people that made Diablo made Hellgate?

      • They have talent and making video games, but this does not mean they have talent in knowing what elements of their past games made it a success. This was obvious by the theme they chose and the format (3d, 3rdperson fps view type action).

        I played hellgate and I wanted to like it but I couldn't get into it because the art direction and the viewing angles were not right for that kind of game. Diablo worked because of it's isometric style, hence blizzards sane choice of using it again in Diablo 3, the hellga

        • I think they were trying not to copy their formula too closely, since they weren't making a Diablo game (since they didn't own the IP, even though they created it).

          The gameplay works fine, IMO. It's a first/third person game with Diablo-like RPG mechanics. I see no reason why an isometric view is necessarily better--it's just what you're used to.

          The problems with the game, IMO, are that the subscription model didn't really offer much worthwhile and that the theme was somewhat bland. The mechanics seem fo

  • by denzacar ( 181829 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @08:00AM (#24171603) Journal

    Disparities... []

  • Rumours and Hear-say (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2008 @08:05AM (#24171619)

    I would like to respond to some of the recent coverage that Flagship Studios has received as a result of the publication of Guy Somberg's blog.

    Everyone has good days and bad days. Guy was having a bad day. It was his friend's last day of internship and he found out another friend was thinking of leaving. He vented, exaggerated, and posted information that was inaccurate.

    We will be the first to admit that Hellgate: London did launch with some problems. The game would certainly have benefited from a couple more months in the oven, but as an independent developer we didn't have the ability to delay our ship date. It can be difficult to stand by and see something that you put your heart and soul into, week in and week out, get the initial reception Hellgate got. It can put a strain on any developer and some days it can get to you. Thankfully, after some very hard work by all the people here, including Guy, the game is much better now and we believe in the future of Hellgate.

    Both our studios are currently fully staffed, with our San Francisco studio working on ongoing content for Hellgate: London and our Seattle studio working on our free-to-play MMORPG, Mythos, which should go into open beta within the next couple months. In total, we have over 100 employees working for both studios. As is typical in the industry, after a game is released some people naturally want to work on something else and they leave the company to do so. But in total we have had less than 10% turn-over and have rehired for all needed positions.

    All our Directors and Founders are still working at Flagship, and all of them are working on Hellgate: London or Mythos. The team size for Hellgate is as big now as when we shipped. We are putting all of our efforts into these projects and I think it will show in the upcoming Hellgate Abyss Chronicles.

    David Brevik
    Flagship Studios"

  • by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @09:08AM (#24171887)

    Flagship Studios deserves going under for releasing this game. The day I heard of this game's existence, back when it was in development, I expect it to be crap. The theme was contrived and uninspired and it continued the same old theme of too many contemporary games with the dark and dreary environments. It's like they use that to obscure their lack of imagination.

    Interestingly, I did actually get this game for $20 a couple of weeks ago out of curiosity. It turned out certain aspects of gameplay were entertaining but the game overall was a big disappointment.

    The most striking thing was how closely the developers copied Diablo. It really shows a lack of imagination, and that is reflected in the overall feel of the game. The monsters are all completely uninspired and the same generic crap found in a dozen other games with hell spawn. The randomized environments made for a game that got tedious quickly. You'd think that having only to build templates instead of complete environments they would have offered a far larger variety of locations.

    Then there were the bugs. Performance was worse in DirectX 10 than it was in DX9, however in DX9 there were all kinds of issues. The game would hang loading environments, in bases it would consistently fail to load NPC or item models. It's ridiculous that after all these time these kinds of issues still exist.

    The biggest insult of all was the subscription-based model. People were paying $10 a month for essentially nothing. If the people at Flagship Studios had any shred of intelligence they would have adopted a model similar to the one used in Guild Wars.

    Well, with the company going under it would be nice if they gave up that additional content as a free download.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The most striking thing was how closely the developers copied Diablo. It really shows a lack of imagination, and that is reflected in the overall feel of the game.

      You do realize that these were the guys that originally developed diablo? I think you can't fault them for copying their own game after leaving a company that they thought was taking their game in the wrong direction.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DerWulf ( 782458 )
        Ironic considering that D3 will probably make Blizzard billions :)
      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        The thing is, the copied the wrong parts of Diablo. Copying art or story elements would have been cool, but copying elements like town portals and ID scrolls in a Sci-Fi shooter just didn't make a lot of sense. You'd think these guys would at least get the "loot" mechanic right, but the model they chose, where most items are crap but still you need to salvage or sell everything that drops, felt really out of place and broke immersion.

        In short, they didn't copy what made Diablo fun, but instead copied a bu

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Performance was worse in DirectX 10 than it was in DX9,

      This is mainly due to the fact that Direct X 10 only runs under Vista. I have XP and Vista running side by side on my gaming PC (Athlon X2 6000+, 2 GB RAM, Geforce 8800GTS 640 MB, not slow by any stretch of the imagination) and am yet to get any game running faster in Vista (DX 9 or 10) then it does in XP. In most cases it runs faster under Wine in Ubuntu than it does under Vista (When I get the game working in Wine).

      • Performance of Vista vs XP is not the point. Performance in Hellgate was worse in DX10 than in DX9. In order to compare the two, you have to be running Vista in the first place. Comparing DX10 on one OS and DX9 on another is not a valid comparison.

        • by mjwx ( 966435 )
          As an avid gamer I've tested vista thoroughly,

          DX10 performs worse than DX9 in vista in all the games I've played, including ones written from the ground up for DX10. Of course Microsoft pundits will continue to say that there is no game truly written for DX10 but no game developer is willing to alienate most of the gaming market by developing only for DX10 and Vista (except possibly for Microsoft but even they are yet to actually do it).

          Vista is emphatically not a gaming platform.
          • It is the OS on my only gaming machine and it works just fine. I can play every game except Crysis maxed out (and no one can run Crysis maxed out yet, which is by design).

            Yes, I think you're right about games not really being designed for DX10 from the ground up, and thus not running as well as DX9. Over time, more and more games will use DX10 and eventually, they will probably require it. But until then, Vista still plays games in DX9 just fine and the recent benchmarks I've read have shown that Vista p

  • wow, she was tied up with the motor city online debacle. talk about picking winner jobs...

    • by anser ( 224618 ) *

      wow, she was tied up with the motor city online debacle. talk about picking winner jobs...

      ...not to mention the Star Wars Galaxies debacle!

      Everybody seems to love her, but the next game I see her crunchy ketchup dragon .sig on, I think I'll go month-by-month on the sub :)

  • (Score:2, Informative)

    Looks like possible dark days ahead for Hellgate: London players. Though nothing is certain until the official word and IP ownership is decided if a legal battle ends up coming into play. []
    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      If the Koren distribter did end up with the IP and a committment to take up development, that could be great news. At the least they'd keep the servers up, and they'd hardly deliver worse content than we've had so far. It looks like they don't own the Hellgate IP right now, however. Perhaps they've made a back-door deal with the lender who has the Hellgate IP as collateral? If EA's claims of a million subscribers are legitimate, the lender is going to be looking to sell the IP before those subscribers e

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2008 @12:27PM (#24173129)

    Well, I dont know about about oneelse but I swear I've never had such a bad experience with a games company for support.
    Basically I purchased this game from but it wouldnt accept my cd key, days later, and many minutes (try about another $16 worth) of calls to the support I was informed that my cd key has 'expired'
    Since when is a brandnew game suppose to expire?
    They promised that they would activate the account (which they never did)
    I tried a few times to log on to multiplayer - then just gave up.

    Amazingly terrible experience.
    They deserve to go under - "and all who sail in her"

  • If they are going under, then for god's sake please release the server code to the community. There is nothing worse than having a game you play suddenly become unplayable with your friends because the company shut down the server.

    I wonder if users of the game could sue claiming breach of implied contract. That it was figured that the servers would be up at least 3-4 years, maybe longer, and here they are up what barely a year?

    And people wonder why the Open Source community hacks and creates clone servers?

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"