Yep, Richard (Lord British) Garriott’s Tabula Rasa (Latin for “Clean Slate”) is headed for the bit bucket. The MMOG will become free to play as of January 10th, 2009, and go offline on February 28th, 2009.

Personally, I wasn’t surprised by the announcement. When Richard left NCsoft earlier this month after his space flight, I felt something was wrong. TR hadn’t been doing well, for one thing. And when the top man heads off, you just know more bad news will follow.

Massive Gamer had a quick interview with David Swofford, the Director of Public Relations at NCsoft Austin. In it, he said pretty much that the game wasn’t making enough money to justify keeping it up. They gave it a year’s trial, which they felt was sufficient. Unfortunately, TR didn’t do as well as they’d hoped.

Current subscribers to Tabula Rasa won’t be left entirely high and dry. They’ll receive both 3 free months of City of Heroes including digital client and 3 free months of Lineage II including digital client.

The sad thing, of course, is that Lord B. couldn’t make a go of it with the new MMOG. I guess the majority out there are more interested in the fantasy-type games such as WoW, Age of Conan, and Warhammer. Or branded products like Star Wars and Star Trek. Or even Ultima Online.

Will Richard stay in the gaming industry? No one knows. He’s “pursuing other interests”, which could mean anything. I know he was very jazzed by his flight to the space station; maybe he’ll turn his efforts towards space.

In the meantime, if you’re so inclined, check out the official announcement and the interview at Massive.

Official closure announcement

David Swofford interview at Massive Gamer