A new report has alleged that Hyenas, the recently cancelled space-set loot shooter from Creative Assembly, was Sega’s “biggest budget game ever”.
YouTube channel Volound shared an eye-opening video on the recent cancellation, with claims from anonymous developers detailing a “total lack of direction” around the game, with one contributor stating many members of the leadership team were “asleep at the wheel but they never seemed to lose their jobs”. The same source noted an engine change and “not committing to doing anything adventurous with the game” were all part of Hyenas’ ultimate demise.
Another contributor said that internal feedback on the game was poor, adding it was felt that Hyenas would “melt into the background of an already saturated multiplayer shooter market”. These claims have since also been corroborated by VGC.
As the video goes on, sources also said that while Hyenas was originally planned as a premium game, it had transitioned to a free-to-play game with microtransactions by the time it was unceremoniously cancelled by Sega.
However, its whole development process from the get-go seemed to be full of uncertainty and confusion, with one developer stating the game was “watered down repeatedly” as the original idea to draw on “looter shooters like Tarkov” was seemingly “too hardcore for a wide audience”.
Meanwhile, characters were changed from the initial ideas. While one developer said originally they were aiming for a game with “lovable rogues”, the higher ups instead opted for “gleeful audacity”.
“They wanted characters who ‘don’t give a fuck maaan’ and have heaps of ‘tude’,” one developer claimed, adding that while the powers that be at Hyenas didn’t use these exact words, that was the idea. The end result was “unmemorable” and “unrecognisable” characters.
“This was a period where it felt like we had just no idea where we were going with the tone, or what needed to be done.”
According to sources, when film director Neill Blomkamp visited the studio back in 2019 he also provided feedback on the game’s overall direction.
“He comes to visit the studio, and he’s shown what we’re up to,” one source told Volound. “He has some ideas of a direction to take it in, basically that you’re not stealing to survive, but Netflix/Steam/etc doesn’t exist anymore so DVD boxsets, music, games, all that physical media is now super valuable.
“[Blomkamp] also had that idea of inserting a lot of internet humour and stuff. He even made a mood video to show what he was thinking, and to be honest after that period of ‘wtf are we doing here’ it was a real shot in the arm to have some DIRECTION (the project so often felt utterly rudderless),” the source said.
One of Volound’s sources went on to state that Hyena’s was “Sega’s biggest budget game ever”.
“Towards the end, there were people from Sega Japan more or less permanently at the UK office, this has NEVER happened the whole time l’ve worked at CA, they occasionally came to visit and check how a game was looking but as I said previously, generally hands-off,” they shared.
VGC was also told by a former developer that Hyenas had Sega’s biggest budget ever for a game. According to this source, Hyena’s budget even beat that of 1999’s Shenmue, a game which was once claimed to have cost around $70m.
I was in the board room where they presented HYENAS game concept internally in 2017.
“PUBG, Overwatch, Destiny & Tarkov. Will take 5 years to make.”
It was soul-crushing to see that’s how games were made at my favourite studio.
Such a waste, hope the impact is minimal. https://t.co/gnn7qvHDHj
— Darren (@whatdarrensays) September 28, 2023
Despite all this, one of Volound’s sources said they are “not angry with Sega for cancelling” Hyenas. “I firmly believe it would have lost more money otherwise,” they said. “I am angry with the shit leadership, and for the people above them not dealing with them.”
The developer continued: “I had hoped that maybe after Hyenas flopped we could be kept on at CA if the next project was another nice low risk contract job… but most of us are likely being made redundant and I’m ok with that really.
“What I am actually furious about is that the redundancies are affecting people who had nothing to do with Hyenas. Like IT, operations, marketing, HR, even some people over on TW, they bear no responsibility for this binfire.”
Eurogamer has asked Sega for further comment. You can watch Volound’s full video below.
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