The devs at Creative Assembly have had a rough time of it recently. Back in September, the studio was blindsided by the sudden cancellation of its upcoming live-service shooter Hyenas, barely two weeks after it had concluded an open beta and one month after an appearance at Gamescom. The result was layoffs, uncertainty, and now the studio is going to attempt to pivot back to what it knows best: real-time strategy.
As part of a presentation to investors (via Eurogamer), CA's owner Sega attributed the studio's ill-fated push into live service to "the favorable winds of the early Covid-19 period, coupled with the strong performance of each title," which led Sega down a path of "accelerating more, even in areas where those studios have not tried yet for further growth." In other words, Sega decided to push the boat out, only to realise no one on board knew how to sail.
"To put it simply, Creative Assembly was good at offline games in the RTS genre," Sega boss Haruki Satomi told investors, "but they took on the challenge of developing Hyenas, an online game in the FPS genre… Although the game itself was good, we decided to cancel the development of Hyenas because we did not think it would reach a quality that would satisfy our users."
According to Satomi, Sega just didn't think it could really "operate this as a competitive online game for a long period of time." Thus cancellation, layoffs, refocusing.
"We have decided to focus again on the strength of each studio," said Satomi, which we can take to mean that Creative Assembly has been directed to get back to work on things more like Total War and less like Alien: Isolation and Hyenas.
As an inveterate Alien: Isolation fan, I suppose I'm a bit disappointed, but it's really no bad thing. After all, the studio's most recent RTS output—Total War: Warhammer 3 and Total War: Pharaoh—both earned plaudits from PCG's resident strategy heads. But it shouldn't have taken a doomed live-service shooter venture and a bunch of layoffs to realise it.
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One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.