Hardware: Shipbreakers Now Homeworld: Shipbreakers

You’ve gotta admit, Homeworld: Shipbreakers sounds much better than Hardware: Shipbreakers. The promising sci-fi RTS in development at indie studio Blackbird Interactive (the new home for a number of former Relic Entertainment founders) was already billed as a spiritual successor to Homeworld. Now, thanks to Gearbox Software doing a kindness, it actually is a new Homeworld game.

Polygon reports that Gearbox, which snatched up the Homeworld IP for $1.35 million during the THQ bankruptcy in May, has agreed to not only allow Blackbird to use the name, it will also provide financial and production resources to help complete the strategy game. Yes, the first new Homeworld since 2003′s Homeworld 2 is coming. Really. Meet Gearbox and Blackbird’s new baby, Homeworld: Shipbreakers.

Blackbird is now in the process of expanding its development team, and preliminary plans are already in place to transform Hardware into a full-on Homeworld installment. Gearbox studio boss Randy Pitchford noted that while his outfit is now a partner on the project, it will solely provide support and leave the RTS building in the hands of the experts at Vancouver-based Blackbird. See what Blackbird has been working on in the trailer below:

Homeworld holds a warm place in the hearts of many a real-time strategy fan. The franchise launched in 1999 as the first fully three-dimensional RTS and went on to win a shelf-full of Game of the Year and strategy awards for Relic Entertainment and publisher Sierra Entertainment. It was followed by Homeworld: Cataclysm in 2000, a somewhat disappointing expansion/sequel from Barking Dog Studios, before Relic was back at the helm for Homeworld 2 in 2003, another RTS that won critical acclaim and praise from fans.

The future of the series became unclear when, in 2004, Relic was purchased by THQ but the Homeworld IP remained in the hands of publisher Sierra. THQ finally purchased the IP as well in 2007, and while plans for Homeworld 3 were popular rumor mill fodder right up until THQ went belly up in the spring, nothing ever came to fruition.

More than a decade later, we’ll finally get more Homeworld. Blackbird began working on Hardware: Shipbreakers in 2010 as an unofficial prequel to the events of the Homeworld series, and it planned to open its closed beta sometime during Q4 2013 followed by launch in early 2014. No word yet on how the new partnership with Gearbox and game changes will impact that launch schedule. We’ll keep you posted, but for now you can follow along at the official Homeworld: Shipbreakers website (which hasn’t been renamed just yet), and register for the beta.

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