namco-bandai posts

Atari says 'So long, farewell' to Europe


Atari's move to become a more online game-centric publisher is continuing to evolve and part of that move means getting out of the European market in terms of marketing and distribution. Today MCV reports that Atari will have that part of its business transfered to a newly formed company called Distribution Partners next month.

That company is believed to become a wholly owned part of Namco Bandai Games in the coming months. Once that transfer is done, Atari's headquarters will be based in the US. The publisher will release Ghostbusters in the US in June and Champions Online in July from its Cryptic Studios dev team. Aside from Star Trek Online (due in 2010) there's no solid work yet on Atari's future publishing plans.

Namco Bandai officially planning to acquire all of D3Publisher

Yet another instance of publisher consolidation is about to occur. In February, Namco Bandai Games announced their intention to acquire D3Publisher and today Namco Bandai has announced it has already gotten control of 95 percent of D3Publisher's stock.

Gamesindustry.biz reports that Namco Bandai does plan to get control of the remaining 5 percent of D3Publisher, making their acquisition plans complete. The deal will include buying D3Publisher's US operations and their in-house game developer Vicious Cycle Software. That company also develops the Vicious Engine middleware product for game developers. Namco Bandai stated, ""D3Publisher operations will remain unchanged at this time. Development of our current and unannounced titles is ongoing and will move forward as planned."

Namco Bandai planning to acquire D3 Publisher

Today's news of Square Enix's planned purchase of Eidos isn't the only publisher consolidation news out there today. Namco Bandai Games has announced its intention to purchase D3 Publisher, according to a statement from the Japanese arm of Namco Bandai.

Gamasutra reports that Namco Bandai already has an agreement to purchase 70 percent of D3 Publisher's shares and is now trying to get control of the other 30 percent. D3 Publisher is best known at the moment for the Puzzle Quest series and has a fairly solid North American presence, including their own in-house developer Vicious Cycle Software.

Hellgate London now shut down; still awaiting revivial


As promised a few months ago, Namco Bandai has officially shut down the multiplayer servers for Hellgate London. The action-RPG from the now disbanded Flagship Studios. The game's official web site is also shut down. Fan site Hellforge reports on the game's final online moments this past weekend as players gathered to play the title for the final time.

Again, Namco Bandai has insisted it has the US and European rights to the game and that there will be no revival in those territories. However, Korean-based HanbitSoft has insisted it owns the Hellgate London IP and plans to relaunch the game globally as a free-to-play title. We will see if that happens and if so if players in the US and Europe will be allowed access.

[Via Blue's News]

HanbitSoft claims it will continue Hellgate London as free-to-play game


The specter of Hellgate London continues to haunt us. The multiplayer-oriented action-RPG launched in October 2007 via Flagship Studios but the game was released it such a buggy state that few people wanted to buy it. In the summer of 2008 Flagship shut down its operations and the game's publisher Namco Bandai announced that the online servers would be shut down on after Jan. 31 (that's this Saturday, by the way).

But now Gamasutra reports that Korean based HanbitSoft will launch global servers to keep the game alive as a free-to-play game. Previously reports were that a new US based developer, Redbana USA, was working on new content for Hellgate London for HanbitSoft's Korean audience but that apparently has been expanded to include the entire world. HanbitSoft claims it bought the worldwide Hellgate London rights along with its source code and engine from the failed Flagship Studios. However, Namco Bandai has stated in the past it owns the Hellgate London publishing rights for North America and Europe. It remains to be seen if Namco Bandai will fight HanbitSoft if HanbitSoft allows US users to sign into their Hellgate London servers.

Namco Bandai launches Serge..er, Surge brand

The Japanese publisher Namco Bandai is trying to let gamers here in the Western world know that they have your back. They want this so much that the company decided to launch an all new publishing label that's "....dedicated to providing cutting-edge, genre-defining games that are targeted at satiating the appetite of western gamers."

The label's name? We glad you asked. It's called (wait for it) Surge. No, not the art gallery assistant with the lemon twists in Beverly Hills Cop. He was named Serge. Big difference. Anyway the Surge brand will launch the console game Afro Samurai in late January with Namco Bandai saying, "Additional IPs currently in development and slated for 2009 will also be published under the Surge label." Now if we can get Surge to publish a Beverly Hills Cop game with Serge we can die happy.

Namco Bandai: No Hellgate London revival for US or Europe


A few weeks ago Hellgate London publisher Namco Bandai announced that they would shut down the online servers for the action-RPG after Jan. 31. However, a note on the Korean Hellgate London web site served to fuel speculation that the game from the now defunct developer Flagship Studios would be revived under a new owner, HabitSoft, and a new developer, Redbana USA.

While that may be true in HabitSoft's home country of Korea, a note on the official Hellgate London US message boards from Namco Bandai has put the brakes that any revival of the game would be here. The note states, "People are speculating and I don't want anyone shocked on January 31, 2009 when the server and forums shut down and there is nothing. Let me explain things a bit to see if it clears up any issues for you. Hanbit owns the IP and rights to publish anywhere other then the US and EU and I think the other territory is Japan. NAMCO owns the rights to publish in the US and EU."

[Via Gamasutra]

Hellgate London online servers to shut down Jan. 31


The painful and short history of Hellgate London is about to come to an apparent end. The action-RPG from the now shut down Flagship Studios will have its online servers shut down on January 31, 2009, according to a press release from its co-publisher Namco Bandai Games (Electronic Arts was the other publisher). Namco Bandai states that online play will be free until the shut down date.

Launched just under a year ago, the game had received tons of pre-release hype thanks in part to the founders of Flagship's previous work at Blizzard on the first two Diablo games. However, Hellgate London suffered from massive bugs and issues indicating a rushed product. Sales plummeted as a result and in July Flagship Studios shut down operations. While there was some hope that the game could be kept alive via another company there doesn's seem to be any hope of that anymore.

Atari/Infogrames to get rid of most retail box games within five years


Atari and its parent company Infogrames have been trying to remake themselves over the past year including hiring former Sony Playstation exec Phil Harrison to be their president. Now MCV is reporting that Atari execs want to move the company almost completely away from the bricks-and-mortar store concept and release 90 percent of their games online by the year 2013.

One of the reasons for such a move is a recent business deal with Namco Bandai that will give that publisher an option to buy all of Infogrames' European distribution within five years. Atari CEO David Gardner states, "Atari will be just an online company – within five years we'll have 90 per cent online products." Since online distribution of games is still dominated by the PC platform at the moment it will be interesting to see if Atari truly makes this transition work.

Namco Bandai to save Hellgate: London?


Since Flagship Studios' staff exodus, the fate of Hellgate: London, the company's debut title, has been uncertain. Some rumors suggest that Hellgate has been re-acquisitioned by Comerica, an American bank who granted Flagship a sizeable loan. The game's forums went offline last week, effectively silencing the game's vocal community.

Now, quite unexpectedly due to the forums supposedly being offline, a recent forum post on the official Hellgate forums suggests that Namco Bandai will be stepping in to ensure that the game's servers are able to breathe without their current life support.

"I know everyone is looking for an announcement, and we'd love to make one," reads the post, which appears to have been made by an official Namco Bandai representative, "but right now, many things are in flux and we don't have all the information yet."

Though brief, the post suggests that an official announcement regarding Namco Bandai's position on Hellgate is forthcoming.
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