Lineage III Source Code Stolen

BOOM widget 113674South Korea-based MMO publisher and developer NCsoft believes the source code for its upcoming MMO Lineage III was stolen by former employees and sold to a Japanese competitor, Korean newspaper Digital Chosun Ilbo reports (thanks Gamasutra). In addition to the development and production of the Lineage series, NCsoft also handles the publishing of Guild Wars, developed by NCsoft subsidiary ArenaNet, and Cryptic Studios' City of Heroes.

NCsoft projects losses stemming from the theft may exceed 1 trillion Korean won (US$1 billion). Lost subscription fees, a major source of income for MMOs, likely account for a large portion of that figure.

The Lineage series has enjoyed much success in the Korean market, though it has been overshadowed in the United States by the popularity of other MMOs, such as Verant Interactive's EverQuest and Blizzard's World of Warcraft. Together, Lineage and Lineage II (pictured left) have brought in over KRW 1.5 trillion (US$1.6 billion) for NCsoft.

According to Seoul Metropolitan police, seven ex-employees of NCsoft are suspected in the incident. Police speculate the theft likely occurred during a series of job interviews with an as-yet-unnamed Japanese company in February, in which those former employees provided examples of their software work. Those seven are also believed to have played a part in the leak of the Lineage III program design this past September.

Citing police and industry insiders, the article also details a recent internal struggle within NCsoft. Following the dismissal of a senior game developer as a result of poor leadership skills, the Digital Chosun Ilbo claims, most of NCsoft's 90-person development team quit.