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Jumpgate: Evolution (I-Think-I-Can-Not)

The box art that could have been

Sit down son and let me tell you a story. This tale is about Jumpgate: Evolution – The little MMO that couldn’t. It all started back in….

Jun 2007: NetDevil announced it was developing Jumpgate: Evolution, a sequel to Jumpgate: The Reconstruction. It would be an MMO with a new graphic engine, PvP space battles and sandbox elements. Players were referring to it as a modern multiplayer version of Elite (which was a big deal). The big pull of this game over contemporaries such as Eve Online was that it would have action based space combat. NetDevil also revealed it was working on an MMO based on the Lego brick game called Lego Universe.

Aug 2008: A full year after the official announcement a trailer was released with a glimpse of what was to come. G4TV had an exclusive preview of the game. The game looked in quite an advanced state of development and would have three factions vying for dominance of space. The title would be published by Codemasters. Meanwhile, Lego Universe was nowhere in sight. It was due that month but the release was pushed back for quality purposes.

May 2009: JG:E underwent a closed family and friends beta. Following this the game’s release date got pushed back to an unspecified date. Apparently the feedback from the testing made NetDevil rethink some aspects of the game. Scott Brown, NetDevil president was quoted saying: ‘Jumpgate Evolution is nearly feature complete, but since entering the Friends & Family phase of testing we’ve been able to bring new eyes onto the game and get solid, crucial feedback from actual players and fans. Based on these results, it is clear that the product needs more time to meet its objectives’

Jul 2009: NetDevil got acquired by Gazillion (Possibly Gazillion is the big baddie of this story but I guess we will never really know).

Sep 2009: JG:E was making the rounds at game shows. Scott Brown made a nice little presentation at GDC while IGN got their hands on a playable demo at PAX. The IGN journalist was quite impressed with the product. Things were looking good.

Dec 2009: The game got a new lead producer, a certain Lance Robertson who had held various positions in the past related to the development of revered MMO Dark Age of Camelot. He claimed that the team working on JG:E had expanded and work on the game was progressing nicely.

June 2010: The Octavius Faction trailer (above) was released, giving a glimpse of one of the factions in the game. Meanwhile the game could be played by journos at E3.

Oct 2010: NetDevil released a producer update. This was good news for fans of the game since information about the project was becoming scarce hinting at sinister things to come. Meanwhile Lego Universe was released and was generally well received by critics (although it was eventually terminated on January 2012 following an unsuccessful transition to F2P).

Dec 2010: Codemasters sued NetDevil over their failure to deliver JG:E. They demanded a refund of 1.4 million $ for a product which was never actually delivered. By then it was clear that something was amiss and the game’s future was in jeopardy. JG:E was supposed to be available for release on or before February 2009.

Feb 2011: Tragedy struck! The internet was rife with rumours that NetDevil was shut down and most of the staff laid off.  Gazillion clarified and said it had sold Lego Universe to the Lego Group and with it some of the NetDevil staff key to that project (around 35% total). Gazillion also claimed that around 40 people were still working on Fortune City a F2P MMO, which they referred to as NetDevil’s key project. Tellingly they made no mention of JG:E. However games websites started reporting posts by individuals on various social media outlets who claimed were ex employees of the allegedly defunct NetDevil. Apparently Gazillion was straight up lying. An animator who used to work with the developer posted this suggestive image:

Not necessarily blood. Possibly just ketchup.

Feb 2012: Gazillion announced the cancellation of Fortune Online and claimed it was going to focus on it’s Marvel related games (one of which is the upcoming Marvel Heroes).

Present day: Currently Gazillion’s website makes no mention of NetDevil or JG:E. In scouring the internet for information I could find no official press release announcing the closure of NetDevil or the cancellation of Jumpgate: Evolution. They seem to have been silently erased from the face of the earth!

Moreover I could not find any information regarding who holds the rights to the ip but I am assuming they are still in Gazillion’s hands. One can only speculate about the reasons why Jumpgate: Evolution was aborted. Everything points to it being very close to release and it had quite a unique concept which has not really been attempted to this day.  In the end I believe JG:E was a victim to bad business practice or maybe one could blame NetDevil for taking too long to release the game. It’s sad to think that we will probably never get to play this game.

And so ends this unhappy tale. Rest in peace Jumpgate: Evolution. I am sure you are up there in MMO heaven watching over us with Project Copernicus playing gaily by your side.

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