Over the course of June, we learned the sad news that player-led developer Realm Worlds would be shutting down the current version of The Realm Online; the group told players that the game wasn’t making enough money to pay the developers and that Norseman Games, which was still collecting licensing fees, wasn’t communicating about a possible IP sale. Following that announcement, Norseman popped up first with a message saying it would keep one of the legacy servers online and migrate accounts, and then with a second message saying it had sold the whole franchise to an undisclosed new party, with no information about the new company or anything like a timeline or explanation for why it wasn’t cooperating with the people who were volunteering their time actually maintaining the game for years.
Well, this morning we got a message on Twitter purporting to be from the buyer, Virtual World Holdings LLC. Its website (which is Virtual World Holding, not Holdings) is bizarre, to put it bluntly. It looks to have been hastily erected in recent weeks, with a copyright date of 2035, a news page that links to five random unrelated articles from GI.biz and one press release, generic “why choose us” and “services” pages that offers zero details on either, and an “industries” page that claims work in everything from banking to agriculture to education (but is actually padded with filler text – we’ve saved a copy right here).
The one piece of notable information on the website is the vague press release, which claims that the company has acquired TRO and partnered with Digital Alchemy Studios to develop it. Digital Alchemy Studios is also a company nobody’s ever heard of; a quick Google search shows the name is in use by multiple organizations, most of them focused on photography and video editing and are probably unrelated.
Virtual World Holdings, LLC Acquires Iconic Online Roleplaying Game ‘The Realm Online’ and Announces Partnership with Digital Alchemy Studios, a New Game Studio Comprising Veteran Developers.
[7/1/23] Virtual World Holdings, LLC, a leading provider of digital assets and gaming solutions, is thrilled to announce its recent acquisition of ‘The Realm Online,’ a revered Online Roleplaying Game (RPG) with a rich legacy spanning 27 years. This landmark acquisition represents an exciting opportunity for the preservation and revitalization of a beloved gaming experience. Moreover, Virtual World Holdings is pleased to unveil its strategic partnership with Digital Alchemy Studios, an innovative new game studio formed by a team of veteran developers.
’The Realm Online’ has captivated a passionate community of dedicated players who have remained loyal to the game throughout its illustrious history. Recognizing the significance of this community and their unwavering support, Virtual World Holdings is committed to honoring their enthusiasm and aspirations for the game’s future. By partnering with Digital Alchemy, Virtual World Holdings ensures that ‘The Realm Online’ will receive the attention and improvements it deserves.
As part of this landmark acquisition, Virtual World Holdings and Digital Alchemy Studios are committed to fostering an open and transparent relationship with the community. Regular updates and communication channels will be established to ensure that player feedback is not only heard but also actively integrated into the development process. This collaborative approach will empower the community to actively shape the future of ‘The Realm Online’ and be a part of its continued success.
Virtual World Holdings invites both existing and new players to embark on this thrilling journey as ‘The Realm Online’ enters an exciting new phase of growth and innovation. Stay tuned for upcoming announcements, where Digital Alchemy will unveil the exciting plans and initiatives that await within The Realm Online.”
Norseman Games has not confirmed this on its Facebook page, and as I type this on July 3rd, the game’s official site has been replaced by a graphic that says, “Happy 4th of July! We’ll be back on the 5th.”
Unfortunately, it remains completely unclear what these groups aim to do with the game nor how they plan to make money on it commensurate with their purported status as a “leading provider of digital assets and gaming solutions” where dedicated pro bono volunteers at Realm Worlds could not.