Flagship’s Community Manager, Taylor Balbi, has revealed to VE3D that all Ping0 and Flagship Studios staff have been made redundant. Flagship merchant services however, is doing well and continues to provide services that, arguably could have been of great benefit to the company. According to Taylor and the VE3D article, employees were notified at a company meeting and subsequently informed that the offices will be officially closed on Saturday. The source 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.
As mentioned earlier, word of the studio’s closure reached HanbitSoft, leading to an early press release regarding the control over the Hellgate: London intellectual property that lead to a stern rebuttal from an official source in Flagship Studios, which, subsequently lead to a HanbitSoft lawyer posting the following sentence on our very website: “It is unfortunate that Flagship turned down additional investments HanbitSoft offered to make that would have allowed it to keep its doors open.”
As also referenced in the legal release, HanbitSoft hopes to independently continue development of Mythos, to which it owns the rights thanks to a loan agreement enacted with Flagship. Comerica now owns the Hellgate: London rights through a similar loan agreement, and will likely continue Asian development with HanbitSoft. As for English-language releases of the two games, it is possible that the Asian companies would continue development, but the fate of the US, Japanese and European version of Hellgate: London remain a mystery.
In short, Flagship’s time has run out, and all intellectual property may have been lost, all staff fired, and the studio closed. Flagship, we hardly knew ye…
Further Confirmation: A person going by the name of GLC who is claiming to be a former employee of Ping0 has made the following post on SomethingAwful to further confirm the company’s demise:
Former Ping0 employee checking in here. I feel bad for some of the talented guys on the staff who busted rear end to try and get a game out on a ridiculous schedule, but I think we all kind of saw this coming after the game came out and basically bombed. Flagship bit off way more than they could chew and made a lot of development and structural mistakes in how they went about things. They had a lot of big dreamers on staff, but not enough nitty-gritty people who knew how to get shit done. It sucks, but that’s life I guess. I didn’t always agree with the decisions of the leadership, but it doesn’t surprise me at all to hear that three of them (probably Roper and the Schaeffers) dug into their own pockets to pay people. Nothing about them, Max Schaeffer in particular, ever made me think they were less than standup guys.
I think it’s less that they aimed too high than that they tried to aim that high and do it quickly, and they didn’t do anything the easy way. They had their own server architecture, their own client, their own chat, their own graphics engine, their own everything basically. Plus they wanted a game that could support thousands of concurrent connections with no downtime, had an engaging single-player campaign, and could support an ongoing, persistent world. It was like picking everything that’s hard to do in a game, and then putting it on a brand-new company (two of them, really) with people who hadn’t worked together before.
Plus you had Ping0 doing the back-end and multiplayer, working off a forked codebase, and trying to make sure that what they were designing was open enough that it could be marketed to other companies. And then Mythos, with a team working out of Seattle under Travis Baldtree (who is a fucking genius, by the way), which had to fit into things somehow even though it wasn’t as much of a priority. It was just a really chaotic situation all around. Hopefully the talented guys I met there will bounce back quickly, it’s a lovely time to be unemployed in the bay area.
Update: Guy Somberg, along with Amol Deshpande, Chris Schillinger, Jesse Jones and Ray Li list their Flagship-Ping0 positions as having ended in July 2008.
Kotaku‘s closure story contains further confirmation from their own anonymous source.
Amol Deshpande, Chris Schillinger, Jesse Jones and Ray Li all list their Flagship-Ping0 positions as having ended in July 2008.
Update: The official forum appears to be no longer moderated is inundated in spam.
Update: Programmer Producer Patrick Harris now has his positions at Flagship Studios listed as ‘past jobs’ and is no longer employed at Flagship Studios.
Update: Eric Liu is no longer in the employ of Flagship-Ping0. Having served for seven months as a QA Manager and Automation Engineer, he was promoted in October 2007 to International Producer, a position he held until the studio’s closure.
Update: Flagship-Ping0′s IT Manager, Brent Shinn, Grant Watters, Greg Brown and Jonathan McEvoy are the latest Flagship-Ping0 employees to have listed their positions as previous experience on LinkedIn.
Update: Flagship-Ping0′s Project Manager, Jack Wood, is now also an ex-employee. Jack had many important responsibilities, including: stakeholder, investor and regional distributor liaising; final say on all patch and product launches; and oversight of day-to-day end user support.
Update: Lead Graphics Engineer, Chris Lambert, is the latest to go. Chris was with the company for four years.
Update: With the help of one of our readers, we discovered that the poster going by the name of GLC on SomethingAwful is none other than one “Kalan Kier”, former Ping0 QA Manager.
According to GLC’s Something Awful user profile, his AIM screen name is “kkieratnl”.
A quick search on Google for “kkieratnl” reveals an archived forum post by GLC.
In the archived forum post, GLC states that his e-mail address is “email@example.com“.
A further search on LinkedIn for “Kalan Kier” reveals that according to Kalan Kier’s LinkedIn profile, he was never a Ping0 employee. However, the LinkedIn Directory appears to have cached his former profile’s headline which indicates that he served as a QA Manager at Ping0.
Update: Diane “Tiggs” Migliaccio claims that Hellgate players won’t be charged even if they are unable to unsubscribe due to the feature’s removal from account pages and is locking discussions related to the very subject, subsequently directing them to a ‘main thread’, in which she allows spam and posts her own; preventing any serious discussion from taking place.
Coincidentally, Diane publicly launched her own community support company the day after Flagship’s closure was made public.
Update: Community Manager Taylor Balbi publically denies having anything to do with the statement that was made to VE3D.
“Nothing Official has been stated about what is going on, everything you see or hear is speculation and rumors.”