Creative Assembly's multiplayer shooter game Hyenas was reportedly Sega's "biggest budget game ever" but was suffering behind the scenes before it was canceled.
Last week, it was announced that active development on the highly-anticipated extraction game would be shut down less than two weeks after its closed beta, with a notice from the holding company Sega Sammy, which stated that that decision to cancel Hyenas, as well as "some unannounced titles under development" was made as a result of “lower profitability of the European region."
Now a new video published by YouTube channel Volound investigating the sudden cancelation features claims from various anonymous Hyenas developers who say that the game was suffering behind the scenes, with a "total lack of direction" and an engine change mid-way through the process. These claims have reportedly been verified by VGC's sources.
One developer described the game as having a "Total lack of direction, many of the leadership asleep at the wheel but they never seem to lose their jobs. An engine change, part way through the process. Attempting to break into a saturated market, and not committing to do anything adventurous with the game."
It was also claimed that members of the leadership team were "asleep at the wheel but never seemed to lose their jobs" while another source told YouTube user Volound in a video regarding the downfall of Hyenas that internal feedback was poor and that it felt like Hyenas could "melt into the background of an already saturated multiplayer shooter market."
Originally titled "Project Keaton", Hyenas was greenlit after the release of Alien: Isolation, which was a critical success but a commercial failure for the company. The shooter was originally supposed to be built on the former's engine before it was switched.
It was also initially planned as a premium game but was eventually changed to a free-to-play experience with microtransactions, with Creative Assembly management reportedly wanting a console game similar to Destiny, Escape From Tarkov, and PUBG.
"When it looked like the game wasn't going to be good on release, David Nicholson [executive producer] even talked about 'doing a Rainbow 6 Siege', like it was almost the plan to release a bad game and fix it after the fact," the source said. "Oh, and it was originally going to be a paid-for game, but indeed by the time it was canceled they already planned to release it as free to play - with microtransactions."
Another source said, "All internal feedback pointed to it being a bad game, a poor experience, and something ultimately that will melt into the background of an already saturated multiplayer shooter market."
According to the sources, Hollywood director Neill Blomkamp - best known for District 9 and Elysium - was providing feedback on the game's direction and would visit the studio in 2019.
"He comes to visit the studio, and he’s shown what we’re up to," one source said. "He has some ideas of a direction to take it in, basically that you’re not stealing to survive, but Netflix/Steam/etc doesn’t exist anymore so DVD boxsets, music, games, all that physical media is now super valuable.
"[Blomkamp] also had that idea of inserting a lot of internet humor and stuff. He even made a mood video to show what he was thinking, and to be honest after that period of 'wtf are we doing here' it was a real shot in the arm to have some DIRECTION (the project so often felt utterly rudderless)," the source said.
Creative Assembly later parted ways with the director before Hyenas was officially unveiled in 2022.
One source in the video said that the game was "Sega's biggest budget game ever" - which VGC personally verified with a developer - even beating the budget of 1999's Shenmue, which was claimed to have cost around $70 million.
Volound's sources say that even though the game was scrapped at the last minute, they're "not angry with Sega for canceling" because they "firmly believe it would have lost more money otherwise."
"I am angry with the leadership, and for the people above them not dealing with them. I had hoped that maybe after Hyenas flopped we could be kept on at CA if the next project was another nice low-risk contract job... but most of us are likely being made redundant and I'm ok with that really.
"What I am actually furious about is that the redundancies are affecting people who had nothing to do with Hyenas. Like IT, operations, marketing, HR, even some people over on TW, they bear no responsibility for this binfire."
Following the game's cancelation, the development team publically responded to the news, saying "We knew our plans were ambitious and we knew we were diving headfirst into competition with some of the greats. But we believed in the journey and we're proud to have taken every step along the way."
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