Remember late last year when Epic took a scythe to its back-catalogue, delisting almost every single Unreal game? At the time, the blow was softened by the news that Unreal Tournament 3 would become Unreal Tournament 3 X, a free version of the classic with full crossplay between PC storefronts, zero microtransactions, and "no strings attached".
It was never really announced by Epic, mind you. Fans got wind of it thanks to the Steam description for UT3 (visible in this archived version), which was updated around the time Epic was going on its delist spree to include a full description of the new version. I guess there was a reason Epic never made a big splash about it, though, because it now appears to have been memory-holed.
A recent update to the UT3 Steam page, spotted by Wario64 on Twitter, has purged all mention of Unreal Tournament 3 X: Its name, its features, even the date on its copyright has been reverted to 2007 from 2022. Instead, the page is now almost identical to how it looked in the middle of last year, before Epic delisted it (you can see yourself by comparing the current UT3 Steam page against an archived version).
Unreal Tournament X doesn't seem to be happening after all, at least according to the changes on the Steam listing https://t.co/u6Skfzo5VJ pic.twitter.com/PeG5vjjlDgJune 5, 2023
Many fans have taken this to be the quiet cancellation of the UT3X project, and Epic hasn't said anything to dispel their despair. When I reached out to the company for comment, it only told me that it "[doesn't] have anything to share on this".
Over on the Unreal Tournament subreddit, players have reacted with resignation and disappointment. "No surprise, it was exactly what I was expecting," said Sudden-Anybody-6677, echoing a comment from another user—abysmalentity—that "putting your hope in Epic" is "just asking for misery".
Another user, hypnopt, summed up people's reaction to the news succinctly: "I dunno how I keep getting disappointed instead of just assuming always the worst and having below 0 expectations anything UT related".
Of course, it's important to note that someone editing a Steam page is not, traditionally, how companies announce games have been cancelled (though conversely it's generally not how they announce they're being made, either). It could be that Epic still has plans for UT3X even if it's leaving the standard UT3 page as-is. Perhaps this is all a prelude to the unveiling of a new, separate page for UT3X.
Or perhaps not. I have to admit I'm cynical. Given that UT3X never got a real announcement and Epic isn't hurrying to assure people that the project has not slipped beneath the waves, I'd be surprised if it reappeared down the line. With Fortnite still making the company an absolutely debilitating amount of money, it's probably hard to get the higher-ups to care about old stuff like Unreal. It feels like we might have to rely on the fans to keep those games alive for the foreseeable future.