10-year-old Camelot Unchained is launching ‘late next year’ following CSE rebrand and investment haul

Plus, Final Stand Ragnarok hits early access in March. Again.

Content preview!

So, remember Camelot Unchained? The throwback sandbox MMORPG that was Kickstarted way back in 2013, hit beta in 2018, then added a second game to its repertoire all while stiffing some of its angriest backers on refunds? Well, the plot thickens this week as the Mark Jacobs-led studio behind the whole ordeal, City State Entertainment, has apparently undergone a rebrand, has picked up even more outside investment, and is now preparing to launch all three of its products: Camelot Unchained, the spinoff game Final Stand Ragnarok, and its proprietary engine aka Unchained Engine.

If you’re currently thinking, “Say, haven’t you guys been theorizing that CSE was going to market that engine for, like, years?” then congrats, you have followed this absurd plot through some very twisty chapters! Here’s the core of the press release:

“FAIRFAX, VA – FEB. 29, 2024 – Led by video game industry veteran Mark Jacobs, City State Entertainment has rebranded to Unchained Entertainment. The company is readying the official launch of Early Access for Final Stand: Ragnarok, a multiplayer, co-op PvE hack and slasher action game. Powered by Unchained Engine, the game will be able to support scenarios such as swarm-based PvE action, PvEvP extraction, as well as Battle Royales of unprecedented-scale in any combination.

Unchained has recently picked up steam with funding from A16Z GAMES and early investors including Island Capital and The Lauder Family; the company is ramping up its financing, hiring and publishing efforts for the launches of Unchained Engine, Final Stand: Ragnarok, and the long-awaited open-world MMORPG Camelot Unchained.

The name change reflects Unchained Entertainment’s mission and focus on ushering in a new generation of truly massively multiplayer games built on its proprietary Unchained Engine, which enables real player interactions in close-quarters action, creating shared experiences of unprecedented scale.

“The Unchained Engine is realizing a dream I’ve been obsessing over for more than 30 years,” said Mark Jacobs, President and CEO of Unchained Entertainment. “Our engine delivers massive battles similar to those seen in major Hollywood productions like Lord of the Rings, to video games where thousands of real players interact and share an epic experience in real time. We’re excited to launch our own games, and to share our technology with fellow dreamers in the not too-distant future.”

The Unchained Engine can power thousands of simultaneous player-controlled characters and/or NPCS that can perform complex interactions, including combat, animations, and effects in real time in up-close and personal action, in addition to delivering tens of thousands of physically interactive networked gameplay objects and elements simultaneously, all while maintaining a high frame rate, even on older PCs.”

The money quote, for MMORPG fans anyway, is this one: “Unchained’s first game Final Stand: Ragnarok is set to officially launch in Early Access in March. Camelot Unchained is expected to release late next year.” That’s an extremely odd timeline; for starters, Final Stand Ragnarok already went to early access back in 2021, though of course it severely underperformed and has essentially no players or marketing push.

And if you’ve been watching Camelot Unchained’s progress over the last few years, you know it’s nowhere near ready for such an announcement. Indeed, Camelot has been the subject of much grumbling for a long time now; it’s been in development post-Kickstarter for a decade, and players were already grumpy over delays brought on by the team founding a second studio and slowing down development to build the custom engine by 2020, when the studio announced a second game, Final Stand Ragnarok. (Baffling that the studio is now calling Final Stand Ragnarok its “first” game.) Attempts to run a sidegame off Kickstarter playerbases are sadly common now, but at the time, the reveal of FSR caused a meltdown in the Camelot community as backers attempted to claim promised refunds – a process that stretched on for years for unclear reasons as Jacobs himself retreated from the broader MMORPG community and stopped communicating with the few industry press still pushing for answers and accountability (yes, lots of drama). As of last year, CSE had picked up more investor funding and claimed it was “hiring like crazy,” so this looks like more of the same, with a marketing blast on top.

Needless to say, the new rounds of outside money will certainly help the beleaguered studio and games, but we suspect that in the end, success is down to the community that supported the studio from the beginning, not the investors.

Source: Press release
CSE’s Mark Jacobs also released a letter to the community. Essentially, without addressing the drama of the last few years or the refund situation or really any of the FSR mess, he says that Camelot is in the middle of stress-testing, videos for which will be up when complete. He says that he understands it looks like “nothing much has been going on with CU for many months” but that “the truth is quite the opposite.” And he says “no surprises such as Web3 additions/partnerships with crypto companies, etc. are part of the plan” – something that many of us wondered given the history of the new big backer.

Previous articleElite Dangerous shares initial details of the upcoming Python Mk II spaceship
Next articlePantheon Rise of the Fallen marks progress on pet system, combat, visuals, and March 30’s Season 2

No posts to display

Subscribe to:
oldest most liked
Inline Feedback
View all comments