Blizzard’s cancelled survival game, codenamed Odyssey, had been in development for over six years.
Yesterday, it was reported Microsoft was laying off 1900 employees from across its video game teams and that Blizzard’s in-the-works survival game had been cancelled. This game was being helmed by ex-Far Cry boss Dan Hay, and would have transported players to a “whole new universe”.
A new report by Bloomberg has now shared further details on Blizzard’s newly-cancelled project. The game started development six years ago, following a concept pitch by Blizzard developer Craig Amai in 2017. The idea was to create a survival game in a similar vein to Minecraft and Rust, but with a more polished experience.
While originally the developer had kept a lot of its focus on already established IPs, such as Diablo, over more recent years the studio increased its focus on Odyssey, with a reported team of more than 100 people working on it.
But even with this larger workforce, Odyssey reportedly struggled due a melting pot of tech issues. Odyssey was originally prototyped in Unreal Engine, but development was moved onto Synapse, Blizzard’s internal engine used for mobile games. This was to better support the game’s ambitious scale which could see up to 100 players per map.
However, this move came with its own problems, with Bloomberg stating “the technology was slow to coalesce”. Sources told the publication Odyssey’s artists would spend time prototyping content in the Unreal Engine, which they knew would have to be discarded later. When Microsoft ultimately purchased Activision Blizzard last year, many at the studio hoped they would be able to revert back to Unreal Engine, but this did not happen.
Even with these setbacks, however, Odyssey was said to be well received by those who played early versions of the game. Players felt Blizzard’s survival game held potential, despite it being years away from release (Blizzard was reportedly targeting a 2026 launch, though developers believed this to be optimistic).
Ultimately, he project was cancelled as its Synapse version was not ready for production. As a result, many of Odyssey’s team were laid off.
“No sword for me. I’ve been let go from Blizzard, along with many many others on the Survival team,” Matt London, the game’s former associate narrative director, shared on X yesterday.
Blizzard spokesman Andrew Reynolds had the following to say about Odyssey’s cancellation:
“As difficult as making these decisions are, experimentation and risk taking are part of Blizzard’s history and the creative process. Ideas make their way into other games or in some cases become games of their own.
“Starting something completely new is among the hardest things to do in gaming, and we’re immensely grateful to all of the talented people who supported the project.”
Along with Microsoft, this year has seen multiple other companies announce layoffs, including League of Legends developer Riot Games, Black Forest Games, Unity, Behaviour Interactive and Lords of the Fallen publisher CI Games.
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