Ryzom extinction

Do you remember approximately one year ago when the Ryzom MMORPG was going bankrupt and a group of fans started a movement to buy the Ryzom assets that were being liquidized, and subsequently release them under the GPL (I even blogged about it here)? There was quite a number of donation promises coming in as well, with the FSF also promising (if I remember correctly) 50.000€  if the Free Ryzom movement was granted the assets. In the end there were about €200k promised in donations which is quite impressive if you think about it.

Well, even if you didn’t see it or don’t remember it, the end result was that a third company, Gameforge, bought the assets instead (after convincing the judge that they would be more capable on keeping a larger number of the workforce employed no less) and the Free Ryzom movement was put on hold (they did try to keep it going but it didn’t take off it seems).

To tell the truth, I was very curious on how a company could buy Ryzom which had already proved to have failed commercially and what they were planning to do with it. More importantly, how were they going to use this failing business to keep the previous employees working.

Well, it seems that they couldn’t. I just received a message from the Ryzom.org mailing list that they informed me that not only had the Gameforge France (the subsidiary that took over) had closed down 7 short months after taking over, but has also left their employees unpaid for quite some time and hasn’t even payed the first liquidator what they owed them.

Now, If you remember, the whole reason why Gameforge was granted the assets over the Free Ryzom movement was that the judge assumed that a corporate entity would be better suited to take care for the well being of the game and its supporting personnel than a rag tag bunch of hippies (or at least, that’s what I assume he thought). Does anyone else see the irony here? You can be damn certain that if Ryzom had gone free, not only would have the developers probably be better off, but the whole world would have benefited from the buyout. You can also be certain that the liquidator would have received a larger amount of money than they did now.

Currently, Gameforge Germany (the original company that has taken over, now that Gameforge France has liquidated) has shut down the game servers and many fear they will shut down the forums as well, leaving the remaining players no venue for information. This is actually the main reason why the announcement was sent to everyone who has registered in the past, so that the remaining player might be informed.

The actual time line of the situation is this:

  • January 2007 : Gameforge takes over Ryzom, creating Gameforge France.
  • August  2007  : Gameforge France stops paying its creditors, starting
    the shutdown procedure. The employees haven’t been paid since June.
  • October 2007  : Gameforge France enters the liquidation procedure
    (public announcement). Unlike the first liquidation, the judge
    immediately shuts down the company and fires all the employees.
  • Nov-Dec 2007  : Issues in the procedure (see below) arise and add
    further delay to an already lengthy process.
  • January 2008  : Gameforge Germany announces it will soon shutdown the
    game servers.
  • February 2008 : The game servers are shutdown.

Now it seems that the previous free Ryzom movement is still waiting for the second liquidation to complete before they take any further actions. This might take a while as the situation has become even more complex by the gross mishandling of the situation by Gameforge. Nevertheless, once that is complete, hopefully, there will be another chance the acquire Ryzom and release it under the GPL and hopefully with a lower price tag as well.

However this whole situation irks me to no end.I just hope that no other “suitor” comes in and tries to take over Ryzom only to park it somewhere never to be seen again. I hope the judge will understand this time that giving the game to its own players who actually want to see it succeed instead of a random corporate entity with the only worry being it’s bottom line, is the better choice.

Let’s wait and see what happens. You check out the original announcement here


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