The Pirates of the Caribbean Online MMO operated from October 2007 to September 2013. It was licensed by Disney to SilverTree Media and meant to coincide with the release of the third installment of the film series, Dead Man’s Chest, though it was delayed from that date by over a year. It garnered a mixed reception that was still better than the critical acclaim received by the last few movies.
Now, a group of programmers is attempting to revive the game under a new flag. Pirates Online Retribution goes into open beta next week, on May 26 — a date clearly meant to coincide with the release of the newest Pirates movie, which launches on the same day. According to the website, Retribution is “100% Free to Play, and always will be!” (though you can purchase subscriptions starting at $13.99/month) with “Quality customer support” and “Top of the line DDOS and Hack protection firewalls.”
It’s an ambitious set of promises, and you have to admire the developers’ passion for their project. There also appears to be a fair bit of drama involved with the game, as detailed in this post on the forums. Another group, The Legends of Pirates Online (TLOPO) is also attempting a revival of the game, and, according to the Retribution programmers, “is literally threatening to murder members of the Pirates Online Retribution Staff.” Apparently, TLOPO tried to “Swat” the Retribution team, only to mistakenly hit a law firm; “Several people were injured in the process” the post claims. The Retribution project manager also alleges that TLOPO
“threatened to carry out more Swat attacks, cause ‘accidental’ gas-leaks, and even threatened to hire a hit-man to murder my girlfriend if we went through with our planned release.”
Those threats were allegedly issued last summer, but the craziness was still apparently going on as of last week.
All of this makes for some astounding drama, but another question has to loom over both Retribution and TLOPO — namely, how long can either operate until the lawyers at Disney take action? Fan games, even free ones, are 100% illegal and can be shut down in an instant by the original license-holder. Disney isn’t quite as heavy-handed as it used to be when it comes to shutting down fan-made projects, as this article details, but making one-off Frozen videos on YouTube and producing a fully functional MMO are seemingly two separate things. Maybe the fact that two projects have been in the works for as long as they have without being shut down is a good sign.