A new report claims that Sega’s recently canceled online extraction shooter, Hyenas, was the publisher’s most expensive game production ever, beating out even Sega AM2’s historically pricey adventure game Shenmue, which famously cost $70 million in turn-of-the-century dollars to develop.
Announced in June 2022, Hyenas was being developed by Total War and Alien: Isolation dev Creative Assembly. It was described as a “sci-fi space piracy multiplayer FPS” pitting teams of players against both each other and NPCs as they fought to steal valuable items and pieces of pop culture. On September 28—just 17 days after the most recent Hyenas beta—Sega canceled the shooter before its official launch. According to developers who worked on the ill-fated project, Hyenas was the single most expensive video game Sega’s ever made.
In an October 4 report from VGC, backed up by a YouTuber with inside knowledge of Creative Assembly, developers explained that the reason the upcoming shooter was canned came down to a lack of direction and an engine change midway through development that caused a lot of headaches.
One anonymous developer, when asked what went wrong, cited multiple reasons, including a “total lack of direction” and leadership that was “asleep at the wheel.” That same dev also claimed an engine change “part way through the process” didn’t help the team working on the game. According to the report, Hyenas was greenlit in an effort by Creative Assembly’s management to create a console shooter with broad appeal. Reportedly the studio management directly named Destiny and PUBG as inspiration.
Kotaku has contacted Sega for more information.
It’s believed that Hyenas was an example of one of Sega’s so-called “Super Games” and had a budget to match, with a developer who worked on the game telling VGC it was Sega’s “biggest budget game ever.”
“Towards the end, there were people from Sega Japan more or less permanently at the UK office,” claimed the anonymous developer. “This has never happened the whole time I’ve worked at CA. They occasionally came to visit and check how a game was looking but as I said previously, generally hands-off.”
While Hyenas was originally planned to be released as a premium title, before it was killed it had become a free-to-play shooter. However, after multiple online closed beta tests for the game, sources speaking to VGC claim that Sega wasn’t happy with the expensive shooter’s progress and that led to its cancellation in late September.