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Homeworld: Shipbreakers

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Homeworld: Shipbreakers
Technical Information
Game Information

Homeworld: Shipbreakers is an upcoming Homeworld game, produced by Blackbird Interactive and to be published by Gearbox Software. No release date has yet been set. It is the fourth game to be released in the Homeworld series and will serve as a prequel to the existing games.[1] It will be set on the planet Kharak.[2]

The game began development in 2010 under the title Hardware: Shipbreakers. In 2013 Gearbox acquired the Homeworld IP and struck a deal with Blackbird to re-tool the game as a Homeworld title.[3] The game was originally a multiplayer-focused, free to play title but it has since been confirmed that the game will be a standard commercial release.[4] It will be released through digital platforms such as Steam, though Gearbox are also investigating the possibility of a physical boxed release.[5]


Homeworld: Shipbreakers will be set on Kharak before the events of Homeworld. Assuming the game retains the technology level of the Hardware videos, the game would appear to be set fairly late in Kharakian history, possibly around the time of the discovery of the Khar-Toba.

Hardware's storyline originally featured different mercenary groups fighting over control of dozens or hundreds of starship wrecks on the desert planet LM-27. These wrecks are an important source of salvage. Aside from turning LM-27 into Kharak, it is unclear how much of this will survive into Homeworld: Shipbreakers. Most notably, there were no such wrecks on Kharak apart from the Khar-Toba itself in existing canon.


Blackbird Interactive was founded in 2007 by Rob Cunningham and a number of other developers who had left Relic Entertainment over the preceding years. Development of Shipbreakers began in 2010. It was originaly titled Hardware: Shipbreakers and was not related to the Homeworld IP. However, Cunningham did not rule out the game from being set in the Homeworld universe and discussions with THQ, the rights-holders of the Homeworld name and IP, took place early in development, with an eye to THQ publishing the game. These discussions did not proceed very far. In 2012 Blackbird began releasing early videos and promotional artwork for the game. These media releases and the history of the company immediately invited comparisons to Homeworld, as the videos used some Homeworld music, similar radio-chatter and voice-overs, and the desert setting was reminiscent of Kharak. The Hardware logo was also identical to that of Homeworld.

In 2013 THQ went bankrupt and its assets were sold off. Blackbird and Gearbox Software both bid on the Homeworld property, with Gearbox eventually winning. Blackbird contacted Gearbox to offer their congratulations. The two companies then collaborated further when Gearbox discovered that THQ had relatively little of the original games' source code and files. Blackbird's staff members helped in recovering these assets, eventually quadrupling the amount of information provided by THQ. These files included all of the game's graphical assets and sound and music files, including the original raw files and outtakes.[6]

During this collaboration Gearbox expressed an interest in Shipbreakers. At E3 2013 Blackbird provided Gearbox with an extensive test of the game and Gearbox decided to acquire the game to publish themselves. In agreement with Blackbird, it was decided to re-tool the game as a Homeworld title. The final deal for this was signed live on-stage at the PAX East event in August 2013.[7]

Staff working on Homeworld: Shipbreakers who also worked on the original games include: Rob Cunningham (artist, project head), Paul Ruskay (composer) and Jon Aaron Kambeitz (artist).[8]



Unlike Homeworld, Homeworld 2 and Homeworld: Cataclysm, Shipbreakers will not be set in space. Instead it will be set on the desert planet of Kharak, featuring ground units (including the 'Baserunner') and fighter aircraft. Under the Hardware name, the game featured different groups of mercenaries fighting for control of wrecked starships on a desert planet, a valuable source of salvage. It is unclear how much of these elements will be retained in the final game.

The Hardware videos show combat occurring at close range with the option to zoom out to a considerably larger tactical viewpoint, reminiscent of the Sensor Manager in the Homeworld game (and accompanied by the same sound effect). One of Blackbird's goals was to have a dynamic map of the entire planet with the player able to choose which area to investigate next. Again, how many of these elements will be retained in Homeworld: Shipbreakers is not yet known.


  1. 2013-09-01. Gearbox lends Homeworld IP to spiritual successor Hardware: Shipbreakers developer. Polygon, accessed on 2013-09-02
  2. Gearbox/Blackbird Homeworld panel 2013 (starts at 39 mins)
  3. Games Industry interview
  4. 2013-09-09, That's One Less Free-To-Play Game To Worry About. Kotaku, accessed on 2013-09-09
  5. Gearbox/Blackbird Homeworld panel 2013 (starts at 39 mins)
  6. Gearbox/Blackbird Homeworld panel 2013 (starts at 39 mins)
  7. Games Industry interview
  8. Rock Paper Shotgun interview
Homeworld Series
Homeworld Homeworld: Cataclysm Homeworld 2 Homeworld: Shipbreakers
Homeworld Remastered

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