Hellgate: London was the first original PC title from Flagship Studios, who at the time were recently formed by former executives and developers from Blizzard North. While the title was promising, the games subscription model doomed it, and the game’s online portion was officially closed down on January 31, 2009. The closing did not affect Korea, and HanbitSoft continued to run the game, as well as re-work and expand it, since then.
HanbitSoft has announced that it has acquired the publishing rights for Hellgate: London from Namco Bandai in Europe, North America and Japan, and that it intends to re-launch the game in these regions and Asia.
What doomed Hellgate: London was the pricing model, which seemed brilliant on paper but turned out to be heavily flawed in execution. Upon purchase, the game would be free to play, featuring some light MMO aspects should players choose to play online. Hellgate: London also offered a subscription fee, allowing players willing to pay it much more in the MMO department; more content; raids, new classes, new game modes, guild options, etc. However many felt that there wasn’t enough content and length to justify the subscription. If the developer doesn’t cater to subscription players and offer substantial content worth the player’s money, the players feel ripped off and disappointed. By catering to them however, non-subscription players are alienated, essentially being “left out” of worthwhile content. It’s a dangerous path to walk, and Hellgate London suffered for it by alienating both crowds.
Whether or not HanbitSoft keeps the same subscription model introduced originally, or uses the the current free-to-play model used in Korea (with items available for purchase via micro-transactions), remains to be seen.