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Atari closes Legend

One more Unreal II XMP patch planned.

Publisher Atari has shut down Legend Entertainment and laid off most of the development team at the Virginia-based development studio, various reports and former staff confirmed over the weekend.

"Legend has been shut down as a studio, with only a small staff still on board to manage the shutdown and to support existing efforts," a source close to publisher Atari told GameSpot on Friday. Legend's website was taken offline on Friday evening.

Meanwhile, an Atari spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny the news. "I can't say anything about that," he said on Friday, forwarding all enquiries to the desk of an executive who had suspiciously gone home for the weekend.

Commenting on, however, former staffer Glen Dahlgren confirmed the news. "We're very sad to see this happen too," he said. "It was a bit of a surprise to all of us. Legend had a lot of talented people, and it's a damn shame that we won't be together to make our next game."

Legend's last project had been Unreal II: Special Edition, featuring the XMP multiplayer component designed by Legend. Although an Xbox version of Unreal II (reportedly including Xbox Live-compatible XMP) is due out here on February 27th, that port was handled by Australian development team Tantalus and not Legend themselves.

Legend Entertainment began life in 1989 as an adventure-focused games company, both developer and publisher, but became a full time development studio in 1995, only to be acquired by GT Interactive in 1998, which was later consumed by French giant Infogrames, who subsequently became Atari. In that time, Legend shipped a number of games, not least of which the quirky but nevertheless underrated Wheel of Time.

According to reports, the Legend team and beta testers will release one final official patch for XMP, to be released with an updated XMP Community Bonus Pack, offering new maps, several bug fixes and a number of new features.