Free-to-Play Company of Heroes Online Beta Shutting Down March 31

BOOM widget 101779 Seemingly out of left field--where our enemies are no doubt hiding their machine gun nests--Relic and THQ have announced that the Company of Heroes Online open beta will conclude on March 31.

Revealed on the game's site, Relic notes that following the beta's closure it will have to "evaluate the next steps for the Company of Heroes series." The beta will close in both North America and Asian territories.

Reaction to the news has a mixed bag of users unclear as to whether the game has been completely canceled and those who are angry for being "duped." According to a forum post on August 30, Relic told users it did not plan to execute a database wipe between the open beta and the full launch window, saving users from losing their progress during the test. Now, according to replies from the company in the game's forum, Relic has confirmed all statistics will be removed.

"We believed that this was the case at the time," Relic's Associate Online Community Specialist Jeffrey Simpson wrote in response to the news of a stat wipe and accusation the developer had lied to its users. "Nobody has lied here," he added. It's possible the stat wipe is an indication that the game will not see an official launch; however, at this time that is only speculation.

The fate of Company of Heroes Online is still in the air; however, with THQ's quarterly financial results planned for release today, it's possible the publisher will reveal the future of the franchise.

Those participating in the beta are no longer able to purchase in-game cash but can use previously acquired COHO bucks until the end of the beta. Retail cash cards can be redeemed and used until March 1, Relic said. As an offer (or perhaps an olive branch to fans) to registered users, Relic is offering the Company of Heroes: Gold Edition for $4.99.

A Company of Heroes Online closed beta first launched last summer before moving to an open beta in September. Before the announcement of closure, Relic had been updating the game on a regular basis including new content last week.

Speaking with Big Download, a THQ representative said he was not aware of any job losses hitting Relic due to the beta's closure.