Saturday, January 22, 2011

Will These MMOGs Ever Launch? part 3 - JUMPGATE EVOLUTION

Two years ago I penned a short-lived weekly sci-fi feature titled MMOs, the Final Fontier. At the time, the future was looking increadibly bright for fans of the genre. Star Wars: The Old Republic had recently been unveiled, there were still great expectations for Star Trek Online, and a number of other promising sci-fi games were generating quite a buzz such as Earthrise, due out next month. Barring the gargantuan hype surrounding The Old Repubic, one title in particular had MMOG communities buzzing so loud you'd have thought wearing bee's nests on your head had replaced the more traditional tinfoil hats in vogue at the time. I'm speaking, of course, about NetDevil's Jumpgate: Evolution.

While I was (and still am) incredibly excited for the pending launch or J:GE back in January 2009, it wasn't until getting my hands on the game later that year at PAX that I felt certain that the game was worthy of every last bit of hype. But soon after, much like a full solar eclipse at noon in the middle of summer, things grew eerily dark and silent.

At first, fans were a bit disappointed by he lack of new info from NetDevil about the game, but most remained optomistic that the silence would soon give way to the typical pre-launch marketing machine's beeping and blooping. Then the information blackout persisted for most of the next year, and optomism soon gave way to skepticism that the game would ever see the light of day. Had I not played the game myself I might have even begun to believe there was some truth to the forumite belief that JG:E was potentially just vaporware.

As E3 2010 rolled around, I was pleasently surprised to see that not only was NetDevil attending, but during the presentation and hands-on session for JGE at the show we were assured that, now that they had brought the game back out into the public, they intended to stay.

However, that hasn't proven to be the case, as the only signs of life from NetDevil were the massive promotional pushes for last fall's LEGO Universe. While it seems clear that development resources were naturally prioritized for such a high profile IP and game release, by now most fans of the game wonder if JGE will ever finally emerge from the blackness of space. In the meantime, Black Prophecy is inching ever closer towards launch, and has calimed the lion's share of attention from former JGE entusiasts.

So is Jumpgate: Evolution slated to become the Duke Nukem Forever of sci-fi MMOGs? I certainly hope not, but only time will tell. While the window of opportunity will never fully close for the game, it's currently in the position of really needing to redefine the space combat genre in some meaningful ways, or else it will have already faded into obscurity long before ever getting the chance to taste the success I still believe the game deserves.

Adding another variable into the mix, last month Codemasters filed suit against NetDevil for breach of contract. While I find it highly suspect that Codemasters would have waited nearly two years to take issue with the game not being released by the February 2009 release date initially expected, either way this suit could very well have a direct impact on whether JGE sees a release anytime soon, or whether it ends up being put on indefinite hold. I certainly hope that doesn't prove to be the case, but in the meantime this one-time contender slips further towards the pretenders list of upcoming MMOGs.

NetDevil Responds

"Due to the current situation with Codemasters, we are unable to comment at this time."

- Keith Mutzman, PR Manager

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