First reported by TechPowerUp, CD Projekt revealed in a March 20 announcement to investors that it is writing off expenses related to the development of Project Sirius, one of its three Witcher games currently in the oven, and seemingly rebooting the project. "The aforementioned decision is based on results of evaluation of the scope and commercial potential of the original concept of Project Sirius," the investor report reads, "and ongoing work on formulating a new framework for this project."
CD Projekt announced three new Witcher games in October, a bit of a Witcher bonanza before the release of its performance-intensive, but still quite nice Next Gen patch for the Witcher 3. Two of those projects are not affected by this announcement: Polaris, the upcoming "Witcher 4" mainline series follow-up being made by CD Projekt Red, and Canis Majoris, the remake of 2007's original The Witcher in development at Fool's Theory, a studio employing some CDPR and Witcher series veterans.
Sirius is being developed by The Molasses Flood, a Boston-based studio acquired by CD Projekt in April 2022. When Sirius was publicly announced in October, The Molasses Flood described it as "offering multiplayer gameplay on top of a single-player experience including a campaign with quests and a story." This struck us as a big departure from the presumably bread-and-butter, capital-E Epic RPG fare promised by Polaris and Canis Majoris, but we were pretty excited at the prospect of a multiplayer Witcher game setting itself apart from the rest of the series.
In CD Projekt's write-off announcement, it described spending the equivalent of $7.75 million on Sirius' development in 2022, with an additional $2.2 million at the beginning of this year. A fair chunk of change to be sure, and "formulating a new framework for this project" certainly makes it sound like CD Projekt and The Molasses Flood are going back to square one with development. There is no mention of the project being shifted to another studio.
If we take The Molasses Flood's April 2022 acquisition as a rough start date for the beginning of Sirius' development and consider the ever-lengthening lead times for game dev, this is quite early in the process for a full reboot of work on the game—a Molasses Flood job listing from back in October described it as being in "pre-production," while the studio was looking for a Narrative director as late as December.
The Molasses Flood is seeking a seasoned NARRATIVE DIRECTOR! Here is your chance to work in the world of The Witcher! Come build and guide a team of designers and writers as they create a compelling world for our new title. https://t.co/A2ywd3jPHKDecember 20, 2022
Those positions have either been filled already, or the studio has instituted a hiring freeze with the shift in development—there are currently no open positions listed on The Molasses Flood's career page. This situation is certainly not ideal for the developers working on Sirius, but is perhaps preferable to a late cancellation/reboot like Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines 2 getting taken from Hardsuit Labs and put on ice practically on the eve of its release.
It's not like we were expecting to get Sirius any time soon: we only had the barest of details on this Witcher spinoff, while its cohorts are also a long ways away. CD Projekt has stated that we can expect Canis Majoris/The Witcher 1 remake only after Polaris/The Witcher 4, which has no release date or even many publicly available details. Our next adventure from CD Projekt is the Idris Elba and Keanu Reeves Cyberpunk Celebrity Power Hour, Phantom Liberty, which is set to release some time this year.