Freelancer is a space trading and combat simulation video game developed by Digital Anvil and published by Microsoft Game Studios. It is a chronological sequel to Digital Anvil's Starlancer, a combat flight simulator released in 2000. The game was initially announced by Chris Roberts in 1999, and following many production schedule mishaps and a buyout of Digital Anvil by Microsoft, it was eventually released in March 2003.In the game, players take on the roles of spacecraft pilots. These characters fly single-seater ships, exploring the planets and space stations of 48 known star systems. They also engage in dogfights with other pilots (player- and computer-controlled) to protect traders or engage in piracy themselves. Other player activities include bounty-hunting and commodity trading. The single-player mode puts the player in the role of Edison Trent, who goes through a series of missions to save the Sirius sector from a mysterious alien force. In multiplayer mode, players are free to take on any role and to explore anywhere from the start.Originally, Roberts promised features such as automated flight maneuvers, dynamic economies, and a multiplayer mode that could host thousands of players, but diminished versions of these features were implemented in the final release. The game's initial technical demos impressed reviewers, but after the Microsoft buyout and Roberts' departure from Digital Anvil, critics had doubts about the game. Reviewers judged the final product technically good but failing to fulfill their initial expectations.