Hellgate: London Online Scheme to be Determined, Includes Free Mode

Yesterday, we published a story reporting that Flagship Studios' Hellgate: London will contain a subscription-based MMO as its multiplayer mode, using information gained from an interview with company CEO Bill Roper. Today, Shacknews followed up with Roper, who clarified his comments and stated that the monthly fee subscription model is only one option currently under evaluation by the studio and its publishers Electronic Arts and Namco Bandai Games, and that his comments were intended in a theoretical context.

Most crucially, Roper noted that Hellgate: London is guaranteed to include some kind of free online mode that gamers will be able to access without any monetary commitment. This mode will likely not include the full MMO features of the game available to full-scale online users, though it is still unclear what kind of commitment will be needed for that level of access. "If you want lots of great continual content, and all of the services, we'll have to figure out how to do that," said Roper, pointing out that the company will need to derive revenue in some way to support a full team of content developers post-launch. As examples of less traditional revenue streams, he brought up various Korean MMOs which sell items to players, and added that The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion generates post-launch revenue for developer Bethesda by selling downloadable content.

Roper stated that finding a solution that is acceptable to players as well as being financially feasible on the development side is difficult. "For us, it's complex. It has to work together globally, and with three different publishers," he said.

In an interview published on Shacknews today, Roper spoke on some of the services that will be part of the full Hellgate MMO. "What you're getting with that service is you're getting 24/7 customer service, secure servers, databases, and the biggest thing is that you're getting continuing content," he said. "We'll have a full dev team that's on the project from day one. Actually, right when you buy the game, when it launches there will already be content available that you can't get in the single-player--additional monsters, areas, all the community and economy things, you'll be able to form guilds, auction houses, all those things you expect from MMOs."

For more on the gameplay of Hellgate: London, particularly its online aspects, check out our extensive interview with Bill Roper published today.