SEGA recently announced the cancellation of its PvP shooter, Hyenas. The news sparked quite a lot of concern surrounding the publisher and its developer, Creative Assembly as to why the game was cancelled. According to new reports, Hyenas was costing SEGA quite a penny to make. In fact, the game had the publisher’s biggest budget for any game to date.
According to Creative Assembly, SEGA cancelled Hyenas due to the studio’s “ambitious” plans and the ever-growing market of multiplayer shooters. While SEGA has yet to comment on the matter, that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. A new report claims that SEGA pulled the plug on Hyenas due to its large budget, lack of direction and various management issues at Creative Assembly.
The report claims that Hyenas was in development under the codename “Project Keaton”. The game was greenlit after Creative Assembly wrapped up development on Halo Wars 2’s console port. The studio’s management wanted to make a console game with a broader audience and commercial potential. A game which would rival the likes of Destiny, Escape From Tarkov and PUBG.
An idea was born to create Hyenas. However, at the start of development, the game had a very different direction. Originally, the shooter featured 15 players in teams of three and players would break into vault across a map to steal items while fighting off other teams and AI enemies.
Hyenas development kicked off using the same engine as Alien: Isolation – another title from Creative Assembly. However, the engine proved too complicated for the game so the studio switched to Unreal Engine mid-way through development.
While Hyenas became a somewhat playable project, the hiccups in development ended up costing SEGA too much money. The studio saw the potential in the game and even had Niell Blomkamp visit the studio to provide feedback on the experience Hyenas offered.
Blomkamp, who is an award-winning director and the man behind District 9 and the Gran Turismo movie, claimed to have pushed the studio to implement more internet humour into Hyenas. He also provided other feedback on the game’s visual approach and some gameplay elements.
The report claims that up to that point, Hyenas didn’t have any real direction and Blomkamp’s input was a “shot in the arm”. However, even after the meeting and the game announcement in 2022, the game’s business model wasn’t set in place. So SEGA and Creative Assembly didn’t really know how they would monetize Hyenas.
It was originally meant to be released as a full-priced game with a premium price tag. During its alpha tests, SEGA then decided to transition the game to a free-to-play model. Right before its cancellation, the report claimed that Hyenas only had a handful of post-launch content planned with no real way to make money.
Hyenas ended up costing SEGA quite a lot of money. While the exact figure hasn’t been confirmed yet, the game reportedly had a larger budget than 1999’s Shenmue which cost SEGA $70 million. Insiders say that Hyenas was SEGA’s biggest budget game ever.
SEGA pumped so much money into Hyenas that they even flew in people from SEGA Japan to stay in California and help during the development of the project.
In the end, SEGA and Creative Assembly wanted to make quick bank on the multiplayer genre which has been hit hard by reduced player counts and less spending in recent years. Sadly, the game’s development also seemingly went nowhere while trying to make “the next best shooter”. This is a story we have heard over and over again. Hyenas joins the likes of Hyper Scape and other multiplayer games which have failed to make a statement in the market.