THQ has announced it's dropping the MMO elements of its next Warhammer 40k title, Dark Millennium Online, reports Game Informer (opens in new tab). Announced some five years ago, the then-Warhammer 40,000 Online (opens in new tab) was intended as an action MMO by Darksiders II developers Vigil Games. However, citing “changing market dynamics and the additional investment required to complete the game as an MMO,” CEO Brian Farrell today announced the company would be shifting the title's focus to “a premium experience with single and multiplayer gameplay.” Oh, and canning 118 employees who'd been working on the title.
The Warhammer 40K MMO "is going to be a masterpiece," (opens in new tab) promised THQ's Danny Bilson back in 2010, saying the game would be a success if only (ahem) 1,000,000 WoW players made the jump to Dark Millennium. However, a string of misses such as Red Faction: Armageddon and uDraw saw the company's fortunes sink, and 2012 began with a grim rumor: THQ up for sale (opens in new tab). The company responded with layoffs and peppy press statements, admitting a project of Dark Millennium's scale would likely require outside assistance to complete.
When a further dire rumor (THQ lays off 170+) (opens in new tab) was confirmed, bringing with it the news that tech VP Mark DeLoura was among the latest round of casualties, THQ admitted it would be announcing some 240 layoffs by March. With the company's online and MMO infrastructure having been overseen by the departing DeLoura, it seemed more and more unlikely that a project of Dark Millennium's size and shape would see completion, and today's news confirms that. The game's refocusing means THQ has laid off 79 full-time Vigil employees and another 39 at Relic Entertainment.
“We believe strongly in the high-quality and vast creative work that is in production [on Dark Millennium],” said Farrell today: “this is the right decision for both our portfolio and for gamers devoted to this powerful property.” Games Workshop licensing head Jon Gillard said the Warhammer 40k owner was “genuinely excited” about the game's new direction. Platform and release details will be forthcoming later, THQ promises.