Creative Assembly’s upcoming PVPVE shooter Hyenas was abruptly cancelled by Sega last week as part of a company-wide restructuring. Now, insider reports have revealed some other elements that contributed to the shooter’s downfall.
Hyenas was Sega’s attempt to break into the sometimes lucrative, but already saturated live service game market. Total War YouTuber Volound published an insider report about what happened to the game, with accounts corroborated by Video Games Chronicle.
Volound says he’s spoken to “multiple whistleblowers,” mostly made up of “pissed off developers that want to see some accountability and honesty.” The reports speak of more unique concepts watered down for mass appeal, a difficult engine change halfway through the project, and an overall lack of direction on what the game was actually meant to be.
The insiders report that struggles at Creative Assembly began before Hyenas was even concepted. Despite being a critical success, Alien Isolation didn’t perform well enough commercially to allow for a sequel to be greenlit. This reportedly let to a lot of developers who worked on Alien Isolation walking away from Creative Assembly for good.
After working on a contract project, what was left of this team ended up assigned to Hyenas, which was internally codenamed Project Keaton. The initial concept leaned into a cast of “loveable rogues,” inspired by the likes of Firefly and Han Solo, combined with “punishing” gameplay inspired by Escape from Tarkov. However, both these concepts were watered down for the sake of mass appeal, to a point where developers couldn’t be clear on the actual direction on the game.
The developer talking to Volound says this is where Neil Blomkamp’s involvement came in. The director was a big fan of Alien Isolation–having been signed on himself to direct an Alien sequel that never came to fruition. Blomkamp’s input provided a creative direction for a time, with the director suggesting the concept of characters stealing physical media in a world dominated by digital streaming. Despite developers saying Blomkamp’s input was a helpful shot of direction, the studio eventually parted ways with him.
The game only went downhill from there, with the concept becoming more bland and unremarkable despite its intention to release into a difficult and saturated market. At some point, Hyenas also shifted from a premium game model to a free-to-play model with microtransactions.
The main whistleblower speaking to Volound agrees that Sega made the right choice by cancelling the game, as it “only would have lost more money otherwise,” despite being “Sega’s biggest budget game ever.” However the developer says they’re “angry” with the leadership decisions that led to this point, with developers and other employees among those who will be affected by redundancies at Creative Assembly.
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