Here's some unfortunate news out of Ngmoco: The company tells IGN that while there was a Rolando 3 (the second sequel to the very popular and excellent rolling iPhone platformer) in progress, the game has been essentially canceled, and will never see release in its current form. Why? The second game wasn't exactly a sales success (though Ngmoco's Neil Young admits "it's done fine"), and it was that lack of a big splash that made Ngmoco turn the corner into "freemium," or the model of releasing free games that offer in-app purchases for premium content. They've had a lot of success with their Eliminate Pro shooter, and they want to adapt that model for all games: get a few hits for free, spend some real money on in-app purchases for the rest.
And apparently when they couldn't bring that model over to Rolando 3, they scrapped the title. That's a real shame -- not every game on the App Store has to be a runaway hit, and Rolando 3 seems like a perfect candidate for the "slow burn"; release it at a price of $5 or $6, and just let it sit there as an example of great gaming on the iPhone (and the upcoming iPad).
But Ngmoco has made their decision, and Rolando 3 is no more. They say the series isn't gone for good -- if they can figure out a way to do "freemium" with Rolando, we could see the roly poly guys on the iPhone again. You'd think that paying for a level or two at a time would work just fine, but who knows what Ngmoco's reasoning is on this. If I get a chance to talk with them at next month's GDC, I'll ask.
Update: Reader Zyber sent us a petition he's started to try and get the game released. Online petitions aren't exactly proven to be effective, but we'll throw our support behind it just the same.