The initial incarnation of Piranha Games' MechWarrior reboot, which was revealed yesterday to have become the free-to-play PC exclusive MechWarrior Online, was stymied by "a Microsoft restriction" blocking a PlayStation 3 edition. This, according to Piranha, played a big part in publishers not wanting to pick the game up. Do remember there's a happy ending, though.
The revelation comes in a blog post from Piranha owner Bryan Ekman, retelling the history of the game's development. He explains that Piranha began shopping the reboot to publishers in earnest after releasing its jolly exciting proof of concept trailer, but were turned down by houses big and small.
A "restriction" from rights owner Microsoft which forbade a PlayStation 3 edition played a big part in this, he said, along with "the epic market collapse and major recession."
"In the end, it was mostly the lack of a PS3 option that did us in. The scope and budget required to develop a console reboot needed the support of a PS3 SKU and we just couldn't convince publishers to take a risk," Ekman explained. "By late fall 2009, our dreams of making a MechWarrior game, began slowly drifting away."
"Through the end of 2009 and into 2010 we rallied numerous times, reducing scope and budget, re-pitching the concept as a [Xbox] Live only title, etc. etc. In the end, nothing stuck."
After pitching in on the resurrected Duke Nukem Forever, working with the multiplayer and console editions, Piranha came back to MechWarrior in winter early this year.
The studio "decided to plunge in head first" and licensed the rights from license holder Smith & Tinker (the outfit founded by Jordan Weisman, co-creator of MechWarrior's tabletop source game, BattleTech).
Going back to the drawing point, Piranha began toying with free-to-play and switched to a later point in the established BattleTech timeline. It also finally found a publisher partner in "a local group" interested in the game, who rustled up funding to form Infinity Game Publishing.
And that's where baby MechWarrior games come from.