Yesterday, Microsoft cut 1,900 jobs across its Xbox gaming division including Bethesda and the newly acquired Activision Blizzard. This caused a domino effect in the companies, impacting a few games in development. Thanks to reports on the matter, we know that Blizzard’s planned survival game was titled ‘Odyssey‘ and that it had been in development for six years before being cancelled as part of the layoffs.
A new report from Bloomberg sheds some light on Odyssey and what players could’ve expected from the ambitious project. Odyssey was apparently helmed by former World of Warcraft lead quest designer, Craig Amai, who served as the survival game’s director since first pitching the idea in 2017. The idea was to create a more polished survival experience in the vein of Rust or Minecraft, though with Blizzard’s signature touches on it.
Odyssey‘s development team gradually expanded over the years but hit a few unexpected issues during development, namely the game’s engine. According to Bloomberg, Odyssey was initially being developed on Unreal Engine before Blizzard made the decision to move to its internal engine, Synapse, which was used to create mobile games. This would’ve supported its plans to include massive maps and up to 100 players at a time.
However, the team reportedly found it difficult to work with the Synapse engine, stating that it was too “slow to coalesce.” Some developers hoped that after Microsoft’s takeover, they would be able to return to the Unreal Engine since it was much easier to work with. Up until that point, the plan was to release the game by 2026 with a ramped up development schedule, though the company later deemed Synapse not “production-ready”, eventually leading to the project’s cancellation amidst the layoffs.
Blizzard spokesman Andrew Reynolds officially commented on Odyssey‘s cancellation, stating:
“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.”