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Privateer Online Cancelled

From June 1999 to March 2000 we were constantly being presented with bits of rumors and hints that Privateer Online/Wing Commander Online: Privateer was coming. On March 30, 2000 we learned through an internal memo that the project had been cancelled. We encourage you to contact Origin to express your disappointment through mature and thoughtful out correspondence. You can reach them at the following addresses:

Origin Systems Inc.
5918 West Courtyard Dr
Austin, TX 78730-5036
United States of America
Massively Multiplayer Games

A massively multiplayer game like Ultima Online takes place in a persistent online universe. It can only be fully played online. After an initial period of free game time (usually a month), a fee must be paid to continue playing because of the scope of these games. Your average massively online game has dozens of people constantly working to maintain the universe 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Origin's only massively multiplayer game as of right now is Ultima Online, however they have stated they have shifted virtually all production to online games for the time being.

Privateer Online News

August 18, 2000: It has come to light that the game Jumpgate was close to being licensed by Origin and becoming the spaceflight core of Privateer Online. As of this writing Jumpgate is in beta testing and should be available "soon." You can find more information in the August 18 news.

April 12, 2000: The six Origin employees (Anthony L. Sommers (POL Lead Client Programmer), Rich Vogel (POL Producer), Raph Koster (POL Lead Designer), Nick Newhard (POL Senior Designer), Chris Mayer (POL Lead Server Programmer) and Jake Rodgers (POL Art Director)) that formed the core of the Privateer Online development team move to Verant, the maker of Everquest and Star Wars Online. Several other members of the former POL team remain at Origin.

March 31, 2000: Origin's Director of Communications David Swofford confirms the cancellation of POL to Blue's News. He added that the Wing Commander franchise is still considered to be very important, but not the company's priority at this moment. He closed with "Never say never".

March 30, 2000: In an internal memo, Origin president Jack Heistand announces that Privateer Online was cancelled in favor of the Ultima Online series. There are currently no plans to revive the Wing Commander series.

Below are some concrete examples of the rumors and hints that showed us that Origin was making Privateer Online prior to April 2000.

March 20, 2000: Desslock's RPG News's Allegiance rambling includes a POL mention. POL, unlike Allegiance, would be an expansive and dynamic online world.

March 17, 2000: Electronic Arts selects Metromedia Fiber and its subsidiary, Abovenet Communications to provide the optical Internet infrastructure for EA's streaming interactive entertainment. The 29,000 route-mile net with up to multi-terabit per second capacity could be used for MMP games such as Ultima Online and Privateer Online.

March 11, 2000: Gamespot came up with one of the most major confirmations yet. In an article on A-10 (here and here) they make numerous references to the project, what it could be like and how people are working on it.

We asked for a decision to be made about A-10's future - with expectations that it would be supported, marketed, and sold well, or dropped right then - so we could work on the more important, more strategic, and much cooler Wing Commander Online.

February, 2000: In February ATFW asked, "Which multi-player only space sim are you looking most forward to?" The unnannounced Privateer Online took nearly half the votes. Microsoft's upcoming Allegiance, in open beta at the time, came in second with about half that many. You can find the exact results at ATFW.

February 9, 2000: A very brief Gamecenter Gamespin mention talks of the "the unannounced-but-in-the-works Wing Commander Online" as being critical to Origin's future.

February 6, 2000: Computer Games Online article on the best and worst space sims talks of how Privateer 3 has long since been cancelled, but that the conventional wisdom points to Privateer Online "a la Ultima Online" as being the future of the Wing Commander series.

January 29, 2000: Gamestar says Origin is working on 'Wing Commander Online', and lists a 2001 release date.

January 25, 2000: Gaming Haven puts up a January 2001 release date for 'Privateer 3'.

January 2, 2000: Origin's Richard Garriott tells Gamepen in an interview that his next game won't be too sci-fi, because that's what they have Wing Commander for.

January 1, 2000: Eurogamer's Millennium for Gamers article calls Ultima Online's profits yet another solid indication that the next Wing Commander game will be online-only.

December 22, 1999: Origin's Anthony L. Sommers posts a job request to a number of newsgroups. Among them is agwc. Sommers is a programmer who's worked on several WC games in the past. He's currently lead programmer for an unspecified game.

December 6, 1999: Game Daily publishes an interview with Richard Garriott about Origin's future, which is for the time being online-only according to him.

November 6, 1999: Adrenaline Vault interviews Richard Garriott, who says Origin is continuing the 'Wing Commander property'.

November 1, 1999: Yahoo News publishes an article stating that Origin will develop a massively multiplayer Wing Commander game.

September 28, 1999: GamePen does an article on Andy Hollis which mentions that he is not among those working on 'Wing Commander Online'.

September 18, 1999: CGW runs an article about Starlancer which mentions the 'upcoming online version' of Wing Commander.

September 11, 1999: PC Games interviews Alan Pavlish, who says that he is working on an online game set in the WC universe.

June 30, 1999: Origin registers and

June 19, 1999: Maximum PC mentions Wing Commander Online in an article on Andy Hollis.

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