I was reading kotaku the other day, and was interested when I read an article about Marvel’s new MMO deal. As some people may be aware, Cryptic Studios was at one point working on an MMO entitled “Marvel Universe Online“, so I was obviously curious where it ended up. The kotaku article mentioned that Gazillion Entertainment was the publisher, which confused me because I’ve never heard of it. VentureBeat has the story on the company as a whole, apparently it’s been in stealth mode as “NR2B Research”, and currently owns 4 studios: NetDevil, who developed Auto Assault and is working on Jumpgate and Lego Universe (who was previously thought to be an independent company), The Amazing Society who does some casual MMOs, Slipgate Ironworks which was founded by John Romero and is working on some super-secret original IP MMO, and “Gargantuan in San Mateo, Calif., making the Marvel Universe PC and console MMO game”. A quick googling will show that Gargantuan has absolutely no web presence, and the Gazillion site now confirms they were formed in 2009 in San Mateo, Ca. So, who is Gargantuan and how are they able to make a massive MMO like Marvel Universe from scratch?
BigDownload has more details on Gargantuan/Marvel Universe. Actually, that link is NOT the same link I saw last night when I was researching this. There was originally a different article available at this url: http://news.bigdownload.com/2009/03/16/feature-gazillion-entertainment-ceo-on-marvel-mmo-projects-two/ that had more details about the game. However, that article appears to now have been pulled for whatever reason. Anyway, on the pulled article, there was some more discussion about Gargantuan, and it listed a set of employees who previously worked at other companies and were now working at Gargantuan. I recognized several of the employees as people who were recently working at Slipgate Ironworks, which is ALSO located in San Mateo, CA.
So we have an entirely new MMO studio formed from scratch in San Mateo, Ca, part of the same company as a DIFFERENT studio that is also in San Mateo, Ca, and having employees from the previous company. This is based entirely on public statements on the web and is entirely speculation, but it looks to me like Slipgate has now split into two studios, one to work on Marvel Universe, and one to work on original IP (the Gazillion site confirms what Slipgate is working on). Now, we have no way of knowing which studio John Romero is working with (or even if he’s still there, who knows), but there is a DISTINCT possibility that John Romero is, right now, working on a Marvel Universe MMO. Anyway, if you were curious about the random dance of setting up MMO companies, this may have been useful. I wish Gargantuan a lot of luck, entering into the MMO business, even with what sounds like a really solid staff, is not for the weak of heart.