Deeply weird Alice video basically begs EA to fund the game

Designer American McGee is best known for his striking videogame adaptations—though adaptation may be too weak a word—of the children's classic Alice in Wonderland. The last game, Alice: Madness Returns, was released in 2011 and is still available on Steam, though 2000's American McGee's Alice is much harder to get a hold of.

McGee has in recent years made his intentions clear and public: He wants to make a third game, Alice: Asylum, and has a Patreon dedicated to funding the game's development (which has 3,224 paying subscribers). Thing is, though, the game isn't actually in development: It's still in pre-production. McGee released a draft script for the game back in 2021, but now he's gone all-in on trying to get old publishing partner EA interested in funding it.

A new video posted to Youtube announces the release of the 414-page design bible for Alice: Asylum (thanks, RPS), which is currently only available to Patreon subscribers but should unlock for everyone at some point today, along with some gorgeous concept art, design notes, and mock-ups of how the game will look.

Then there's a rather naked plea to EA to send us a big cheque, please. At the end of the video EA's logo appears above the text "Let’s make impossible things happen… together." This strikes me as the developer equivalent of texting your ex in the small hours asking why they haven't returned those missed calls. McGee has in the past been explicit about the fact that the goal with all this pre-release stuff is to "have that plan approved by EA" (2021) before raising the funding to develop the title. But it seems like EA is at the very least late, late, for a very important date.

The positive element of this is that the video does announce a development partner for the nascent project, Virtuos, which is a studio that does a lot of porting and support work but has worked on some seriously big titles. Most notably it was behind the excellent PC port of Horizon: Forbidden West, but it's also worked on titles including Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and XCOM 2. 

I adore the Alice books, to the extent I have a few illustrations on my walls and have mercilessly read it over and over to my kids, and always had a lot of time for McGee's weird and ooky-spooky take on one of the true classics of children's literature. As games, they may leave a lot to be desired, but the art design has always been phenomenal and taps into the unsettling and sinister threads that run through its inspiration. I'd love to see a third one. I'm just not quite sure that this is the way to get EA on board to fund it.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."