Bryan Ekman of Piranha Games posted a rather large dev blog post on the official MechWarrior Online webpage, telling the story of the death of the MechWarrior console reboot, and of it’s rebirth as a free to play MMO (as announced yesterday).
Many thought that the complete radio silence about the game was due to the dispute with Harmony Gold about a Mech shown in the trailer that was clearly coming from the first edition of the MechWarrior/Battletech games, and that was actually copied from one belonged to the Macross series. But the truth was different.
Piranha Games went to many publishers to pitch the game, but the answer they received was always negative. The reason? No one wanted to take the risk to publish the game if it wasn’t fully multiplatform, and Microsoft was blocking the PS3 version of the game (since they still own the “MechWarrior” trademark).
We knew going in, there were two major risks. No PS3 version due to a Microsoft restriction, and the epic market collapse and major recession. In the end, it was mostly the lack of a PS3 option that did us in. The scope and budget required to develop a console reboot needed the support of a PS3 SKU and we just couldn’t convince publishers to take a risk. By late fall 2009, our dreams of making a MechWarrior game, began slowly drifting away.
Publishing a game from a franchise that, even if glorious, had been absent from the spotlight for a long while, is a rather large risk, and according to Ekman, Microsoft and it’s refusal to let Piranha develop the game on PS3 are the primary cause of the death of the MechWarrior reboot. One could say they also caused it’s rebirth. Whether it’s a good or a bad thing, depends on what you like more between PC-based free-to-play MMOs and Console mecha simulators.