It's been a long and turbulent ride for Hellgate: London, stretching all the way back to its rather troubled Halloween 2007 launch under the banner of the ill-fated Flagship Studios. This stretched through a bewildering morass of licensing disputes, general misinformation, and mixed signals (like continual English press releases for the game in a non English-speaking market. *ahem*) in the wake of the Flagship Studios closure and subsequent legal wranglings between T3 Entertainment/HanbitSoft and NAMCO BANDAI. Still, despite some of the flaws both in terms of business decisions made and the game itself, the title has its fans and many were sad to see Hellgate: London's servers in North America and Europe go dark.
Liken it to a yo-yo, a roller coaster, or what have you -- it's been confusing, but there have been glimmers of hope of the game one day returning to Western regions. An official release from Hellgate: London's license holder HanbitSoft today is perhaps the most solid bit of info we've received about the future of the game outside of Korea. In HanbitSoft's own words: "HanbitSoft Inc., announced today that the company has obtained the publishing rights for Hellgate in North America, Europe and Japan from NAMCO BANDAI Games America Inc.. HanbitSoft and NAMCO BANDAI Games America, the formal owner of the publishing rights in these regions, have entered into an agreement for the game to be distributed by HanbitSoft in the future."
They also state: "Through this agreement, HanbitSoft now owns the worldwide publishing rights for the Hellgate franchise. HanbitSoft will roll out the launch of Hellgate overseas in 2010, starting with China, Taiwan, and South East Asia followed by North America, Europe, and Japan."
HanbitSoft CEO Kee-Young Kim wrote: "We would like to thank NAMCO BANDAI Games America for allowing us to acquire the Hellgate publishing rights and are thrilled to have eager gamers worldwide return and enjoy the franchise. [...] Hellgate: Resurrection is heading towards success in Korea such that we decided to push ahead with launching the game overseas next year. We will do our best to get the game to the fans as soon as possible."
While a firm release date for the return of Hellgate to Western regions hasn't been announced, at the very least this could come as good news to fans of HG:L that have been holding out hope of the game's eventual return. It's also interesting to note that the game is no longer referred to as "Hellgate: London" in the press release, but alternately as "Hellgate" and "Hellgate: Resurrection" (as the new free-to-play version is presently known in Korea).