FreeSpace 3 is the name of the hypothetical sequel that FreeSpace 2 would logically have. Asking about FreeSpace 3 on the forums tends to provoke annoyance from established members, since it has allegedly "been asked about so many times before".
In early July, 2004, news appeared that controversial game developer Derek Smart, creator of the game Battlecruiser: 3000AD, and active participator in many online forums, was considering bidding for the IP licence with the intent of developing FreeSpace 3. This proposal was met with derision from the HLP community; the reaction was such that Smart threatened to potentially sue developers and terminate community projects once he had acquired the license, on account of copyright infringement. According to polls, however, the majority of customers would buy the game regardless of Smart's involvement.
In late July, 2004, further news arrived that Smart had decided not to develop FreeSpace 3. Smart never acquired the license, and at present the license is believed to be owned by Interplay (see below).
In an interview on All Games Radio on October 30 2007, Smart stated that the online controversy surrounding the license ultimately caused him to lose interest in bidding for the license -- "there simply was too much noise surrounding the issue" -- and that he decided to instead focus on developing a new franchise out of his own game universe.
The general consensus among the HLP community is that there will never be a FreeSpace3. Many reasons for this are presented. A select few are:
- Volition, Inc. is the developer of the previous FreeSpace games in the series and is generally held as the only authorative developer
- Interplay apparently owns the rights to the FreeSpace universe (as of 11-15-2006) (see below)
- the ownership of Volition has been transferred from Interplay to THQ
- the emotive consensus "if it ain't by V, it ain't FreeSpace 3"
- the ownership of Volition has been transferred from THQ to Koch Media
While it could be argued that by having the source code available the FreeSpace community could set about creating FreeSpace 3 themselves, no such project has emerged. Disregarding the legal issues, the community has universally renounced any such undertaking, due to a multitude of reasons. While the main reason is that there's very little hope consensus could be reached regarding any possible storyline or direction, there are also numerous other issues involved. When all of these are taken into account, the conclusion has been that any and all plans regarding FreeSpace 3 are indefinitely shelved. For further information, read the HLP forum's official FS3 statement.
Attempts have been made to make FreeSpace 3 a reality, such as petitions and mailings to both Volition and Interplay. No attempts to date have been fruitful, and continuous mentions of FreeSpace 3 will ultimately be met with either derision or ad hominem, or both.
Current license status
According to a post by Volition developer Dave Baranec on the HLP forum, it would seem that Volition are furthering their talks with THQ about the current situation of the FreeSpace scene and the future of the FreeSpace series.
A nameless Interplay contact has stated numerous times that Interplay does not own the IP rights to FreeSpace. While it can be argued that the contact may not be in possession of the complete facts—due to his position as helpdesk—the preceeding is the only known semi-official statement regarding the current status of the license. The current status of the license negotiations is yet to be officially confirmed. However, according to the US Trademark and Patent office database    the license is still held by Interplay. These links show that the license was briefly placed in a security agreement with Microsoft and two credit companies in 2001, then released in 2002, which presumably helped get Interplay out of debt. There has been no further official development of the license situation since THQ's involvement.
Interplay recently introduced their 20th anniversary edition of FreeSpace 2, which can be ordered via their homepage. Moreover, recently Home of the Underdogs removed the game from their download list, only to later re-insert it. No explanation for this has been given.
FreeSpace 3® trademark
Perhaps surprisingly, Bose—a Framingham, MA based audio system developer founded in 1964—owns the registered trademark for the product name "FreeSpace 3" as of January, 2008. To note is the similar use of capitals, i.e. medial capitalization, also known as camel case, of the product name.
This might not present an issue for the possible development of a sequel, due to the fact that the trademark for TrueSpace®—a stereo surround enhancer—is also registered and owned by Bose. Nevertheless, this has not infringed on the brand name trueSpace (a well-known modeling program).