In 2006, Icelandic EVE Online developer CCP Games merged with White Wolf Publishing, announcing a massively multiplayer role-playing game based on the latter's popular World of Darkness supernatural role-playing setting. Today that project has been cancelled.
According to an official message posted on CCP's website and distributed to the press via email, the cancellation marks the first time since 2006 that all of the company's resources were focused solely on the EVE Online universe: the original MMO, the DUST 514 PlayStation 3 tie-in shooter and EVE: Valkyrie, the Oculus Rift-based space dog-fighting game.
As a result of the decision, 56 members of the World of Darkness team stationed at CCP's Atlanta-based US headquarters have lost their jobs. Some have been moved to other teams, while others have been given severance and job placement assistance.
CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson called the decision to cancel the project one of the hardest he'd ever had to make, thanking those who worked on the project and giving assurances their contribution would not be forgotten.
The decision to end the World of Darkness MMO project is one of the hardest I've ever had to make. I have always loved and valued the idea of a sandbox experience set in that universe, and over the years I've watched the team passionately strive to make that possible.
I would like to give special thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make the World of Darkness MMO a reality, especially the team members affected by this decision. Their considerable contribution to CCP will not be forgotten, and we wish them well.
To our current and former employees and fans of World of Darkness, I am truly sorry that we could not deliver the experience that we aspired to make. We dreamed of a game that would transport you completely into the sweeping fantasy of World of Darkness, but had to admit that our efforts were falling regretfully short. One day I hope we will make it up to you.
Although this was a tough decision that affects our friends and family, uniting the company behind the EVE Universe will put us in a stronger position moving forward, and we are more committed than ever to solidify EVE as the biggest gaming universe in the world.
The World of Darkness MMO, centred around the Vampire: The Masquerade corner of White Wolf's dark supernatural setting, was one of the first stories I reported for Kotaku, way back in November of 2006 — further than the US archive currently reaches.
It was exciting news. In the early '90s I was a huge fan of the setting. I read the novels, purchased the role-playing supplements. I ran a Vampire-themed computer bulletin board (BBS), where fans would dial in, one-at-a-time, to write out role-played prose. I'd regularly visit White Wolf's Stone Mountain, Georgia offices, folding t-shirts in exchange for free books. I even participated in live-action World of Darkness role-playing (I was an insane Malkavian vampire named, oddly enough, Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland).
So I was excited by the news of an MMO. I followed the project's development over the years, impressed at the passion the team CCP had assembled in Atlanta had for the property. They understood that the game needed to be more of a social experience than a combat-heavy action game. They listened to the setting's more vocal fans.
In 2009, I had a chance to visit CCP's Atlanta offices. The purpose of my visit was EVE Online, but the most memorable aspect of it was the space set aside for the World of Darkness team. They'd decorated the walls with faux brick and turned the lights down low, simulating a shadowy back alley where who knows what sort of supernatural evil could be hiding. I came out of the visit feeling really good about the future of the game.
The lack of significant news about the game over the years following my visit quashed that hopeful feeling, to the point that today's announcement came as no surprise. There aren't even any screenshots of the game floating around. I'm disappointed, but it's nothing I wasn't expecting.
My heart goes out to the team members who lost their jobs due to the cancellation of World of Darkness.