Yoko Taro’s New Game Turns Sega Classics Into Waifus

Today, Sega revealed the trailer for its new mobile game collaboration with Nier and Drakengard series creator Yoko Taro. As is tradition for any collaboration with Taro, this game’s elevator pitch trades in the bizarre twists only Taro’s mind can concoct: a gacha game that transforms Sega classics into waifus set in a dark future in which Sega controls society.

The game, whose announcement was teased earlier this week, is called 404 Game Re:set. In typical Yoko Taro fashion, you’ll be charged with taking on a corrupt, alternate version of Sega, which calls to mind that one Nier: Automata DLC in which you got to fight Square Enix execs. According to Video Games Chronicle, the text that flashed on the phone in the trailer read “Kill Sega” before dropping to the floor. Oh to have been a fly on the wall of that pitch meeting. However, the twist, because there’s always gotta be a twist with this dude, is that you won’t be fighting alone. By your side will be the waifu personifications of a bunch of classic Sega games.

Sega

Read More: Yoko Taro Is Gonna Delete These Fans’ Saves Forever And They’re Gonna Like It

“It’s a game that features Sega’s IP, so I thought Sega should be in the game, but I didn’t think Sega would want to see a game that portrayed it well, so I portrayed it negatively,” Taro said in the announcement trailer (as translated by VGC). “It’s a world that imagines that if things were to go well for Sega but then got out of control, it could end up like this.”

So far, the confirmed Sega games that will be getting hit with the waifu ray are After Burner, Out Run, Virtua Cop, and Virtua Fighter. In an interview with Famitsu, producer Gosuke Nakamura said there will be “many more” Sega girls for players to collect. This means there’s still a chance we will see him choose the definitive car-waifu from Daytona USA ya’ll. No copying the Transformers bishojo toy line, Taro. I’ll know.

A Google-translated tweet from the official 404 Game Re:set account describes the game’s setting as a “Sega country” that seeks to “deceive and control people.” The player character, in turn, will be charged with the task of “deliver[ing] the truth hidden by Sega to as many people as possible” and taking back the world from the maniacal Sega country.

Sega

Outside of Taro’s newest venture, the eccentric Emil-skull-wearing auteur has been contributing to the Nier: Automata Ver 1.1a anime from production studio A-1 Pictures. To keep the show interesting for viewers who’ve played Nier: Automata, the anime is combining routes A and B, concluding episodes with a fun puppet show that describes the game’s many endings, and has hidden coded messages for fans to decipher within its eye catches.

Although the Nier anime is currently on hiatus due to covid, that hasn’t stopped the mad lad from writing a 15-minute music video that expands upon the series’ lore. Time will tell whether or not Taro will include even more meta gameplay mechanics in 404 Game Re:set or if he’ll leave well enough alone with the gacha waifu sega classics concept. He is an unapologetic capitalist so expect some shenanigans down the road, mobile players.

404 Game Re:set is currently available to wishlist on the Apple App Store and on the Google Play store.

Sega Buys Angry Birds Company For $775 Million

Japanese gaming publisher Sega announced on Monday it will buy the company behind smartphone one-hit wonder Angry Birds for $775 million. It’s the latest major gaming acquisition, and one of the weirdest ones yet.

We got an initial tease of the deal in a report by The Wall Street Journal on April 15 that suggested Sega might purchase Rovio for as much as $1 billion. Discussions over the weekend apparently knocked that number down a couple hundred million, and now the two companies have announced an official agreement, calling it a “friendly takeover.”

Sega argues the deal will help it bring its existing franchises to mobile and help Rovio bring its games to other platforms. Both companies have also already experimented with transmedia spin-offs, most notably in Hollywood where Sonic and Angry Birds both led to profitable film adaptations. “Among the rapidly growing global gaming market, the mobile gaming market has especially high potential, and it has been SEGA’s long-term goal to accelerate its expansion in this field,” Haruki Satomi, President and Group CEO of Sega’s parent company, said in a press release.

Read More: Angry Birds Game Pulled From Store In The Worst Way

The deal follows a string of major acquisition announcements as the video game industry consolidates, and specifically ones aimed at helping companies get a bigger part of the massive mobile gaming market. Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard ($69 billion) which makes Call of Duty Mobile and Candy Crush. Take-Two bought Zynga ($12.7 billion), which makes Poker and Words with Friends. And the Saudi Arabia-backed Savvy Entertainment Group recently announced it’s buying Scopely ($4.9 billion), the company behind WWE Champions and Star Trek Fleet Command.

Mobile gaming never ended up replacing PC and console gaming, but it’s still huge. Apple’s game revenue from the App Store in 2021 alone was estimated to be over $15 billion. And despite being one of the oldest mobile gaming hits at this point, Angry Birds sequels and spin-offs continue to make money.

At the same time, Sega isn’t nearly as big as some of these other players (its entire market cap is less than the Scopely deal) and making hit mobile games is way harder than just grafting familiar faces onto clones of whatever’s topping the charts. Electronic Arts recently canned both its Battlefield and Apex Legends mobile spin-offs and laid off a bunch of people after a less-than-stellar year for its smartphone game business. And while Angry Birds is far from a dead game, it’s clear Rovio has struggled to capture lightning in a bottle a second time.

Coincidentally, 2023 marks the tenth anniversary of Sega buying JRPG powerhouse Atlus for just $140 million. That’s about half what Embracer recently paid to snatch up the Deus Ex and Tomb Raider studios from Square Enix. We’ll see who ends up buying who next. In the meantime I can’t wait to see what unhinged ways Sega finds to incorporate Angry Birds into the next Sonic game.

              

Sonic Maker Sega Is The Game Industry’s Next Union Battleground

Over 140 workers at Sega of America’s Irvine, California office have announced plans to form a new union to fight for better pay, adequate staffing, and more balanced schedules. It’s the latest front in the video game industry’s growing unionization movement, and the first to move its focus beyond strictly game developers.

Update 7/10/2023 2:52 p.m. ET: A plurality of over 200 Sega of America workers successfully voted to unionize in an election by the National Labor Relations Board. There were 91 “yes” votes, 19 challenged ballots, three void ballots, and only 26 “no” votes.

That makes AEGIS-CWA one of the largest unions yet in the video game industry, and one of the most diverse, made up various disciplines including marketing, public relations, and community management. The group will now prepare to bargain on its first contract with Sega on issues like pay, overtime, and promotion opportunities.

Original story follows.

As first reported by The Verge, the group is forming its union with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and has already filed a petition for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), though it’s calling on Sega to voluntarily recognize it. The news comes just a week after leftist content creator the_swoletariat_ released a TikTok showing Sonic educating people on how to unionize fast.

“By creating our union, AEGIS-CWA, we’ll have a say in the decisions that shape our working conditions and ensure the job security and working conditions we deserve,” Mohammad Saman, a quality assurance lead at Sega, said in a press release. “We’re excited to protect what already makes Sega great, and help build an even stronger company, together.”

The home of Sonic the Hedgehog, the Japanese publisher is also responsible for beloved franchises like Yakuza and Persona, with its Sega of America branch responsible for helping test, localize, and market games for audiences in the Americas. In addition to QA testers, the proposed union will also include employees in community management, product development, and brand marketing roles, making it potentially one of the most organizationally diverse units so far if the bid is successful.

QA testers at the Call of Duty studio Raven Software were the first to unionize at a major game publisher, followed by testers at BioWare, Blizzard, and Bethesda. Developers at Proletariat Studio previously tried to unionize everyone at the studio outside of management but were ultimately unsuccessful. Disagreement between the staff there demonstrated just how hard it can be to organize larger groups of workers from separate departments.

So far, Microsoft has been the only company to voluntarily recognize unionizing gaming industry workers, following a promise it made to the CWA in exchange for union support for its acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The CWA is calling on Sega to sign onto a similar pledge of neutrality when it comes to union activity. The publisher didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“I really hope that management recognizes that we’re not doing this out of any sort of antagonism,” Torie Winkler, a senior community manager at the game publisher, told The Verge. “We are doing this because we respect our coworkers and we want to be able to make a sustainable workplace.”

Update 4/26/2023 1:47 p.m. ET: Sega of America President and COO Ian Curran finally acknowledged the union drive in an email to staff on Wednesday, Axios’ Stephen Totilo reported. “Union matters are new to me,” he wrote, but said no employee would be treated any differently if they supported organizing. He did not say the company would voluntarily recognize the union, however, meaning a secret ballot with the NLRB will likely be forced instead.

            

Sega Sounds Like It’s Jumping On The $70 Game Bandwagon

Artwork shows the characters in Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

Image: Sega

The shift to $70 games for the “next-gen” consoles has been slow but steady, and another major publisher could soon be making the jump. Sega said in its latest earnings report that it’s currently reviewing its games to see where price increases make sense, moving in the direction of 2K Games, Square Enix, and other big companies that have already adopted $70 as the new standard price point for blockbuster video games.

“In the global marketplace, AAA game titles for console have been sold at $59.99 for many years, but titles sold at $69.99 have appeared in the last year,” Sega said in a newly translated transcript of the company’s April 28 earnings call (via VGC). “We would like to review the prices of titles that we believe are commensurate with price increases, while also keeping an eye on market conditions.”

Sega’s most recent blockbuster, a remake of the Yakuza spin-off Like a Dragon: Ishin!, was cross-gen and priced at $60. So was last year’s ambitious Sonic Frontiers, which came to every platform including the Nintendo Switch. It now sounds like the next Yakuza and Sonic games could be the first to tick up to $70. Like a Dragon 8 (as the Yakuza series is known in Japan) is slated to arrive sometime in 2024.

Read More: Sonic Maker Sega Is The Video Game Industry’s Next Union Battleground

After over a decade of prices for high-end games stagnating at $60, Take-Two was the first to race to make NBA 2K21 $70 when it came to the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S. Other companies like Activision, Sony, Square Enix, and Ubisoft followed suit. Redfall was Microsoft’s first $70 game, while The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was Nintendo’s, though the Mario maker says some of its games will remain at $60 for now.

Interestingly, the price changes have mostly only been on consoles. With the exception of Forspoken, PC versions of recent blockbusters like the Dead Space remake and The Callisto Protocol remained $10 cheaper than their counterparts on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. AAA game budgets are out of control, though, so it’s unlikely to stay that way for long.

Sonic The Hedgehog’s Anniversary: Everything Sega Announced

Today is Sonic the Hedgehog’s 32nd anniversary, and Sega released a 20-minute Sonic Central showcase to talk about upcoming projects, and alongside talking about upcoming 2D throwback Sonic Superstars, there were a lot of non-game announcements during the show. If you want to watch the whole stream, you can do so right here. For those that just want the highlights, here’s everything you missed at the Sonic Central showcase.

Sega

Sonic Origins Plus

First up was a look at Sonic Origins Plus, the expanded version of the original Sonic Origins that packaged together several classic games from the series’ 2D past. The compilation launched today, June 23, and includes 16 games and adds Amy Rose as a playable character.

Sega

Sonic Frontiers: Sonic’s Birthday Bash Update

Sonic Frontiers is getting new content as part of a birthday-themed update called Sonic’s Birthday Bash. On top of giving Sonic some new cosmetics like a party hat and cool sunglasses, there are some more substantial changes coming to the game, as well. One of the big additions is New Game+, but long-time Sonic fans will also be happy to know the Spin Dash, which lets Sonic charge up in a ball to get some quick momentum, is making a return in the update. The update is free, and available now.

Sonic is shown grinding on a rail while dressed up like a spiffy little guy.

Screenshot: Sega / Kotaku

Roblox: Sonic Speed Simulator

Sega is adding a new event to the Sonic Speed Simulator crossover in Roblox that will unlock a tuxedo-sporting Sonic skin. It’s playable today.

Netflix

Sonic Prime

Sonic Prime, the animated Netflix series about a multiverse-hopping version of Sonic and friends, is getting new episodes on July 13. The new trailer shows Sonic and Shadow teaming up, as well as teases a robotic Sonic multiverse variant. Alongside the new episodes, endless runner Sonic Dash will join the Netflix games library as Sonic Prime Dash, which will feature the various multiverse versions of the characters.

Sonic is seen shrouded in darkness and surrounded by Chaos Emeralds.

Screenshot: Sega / Kotaku

Updates on the mobile games

The showcase took a moment to touch on some of the mobile Sonic games. Super Silver has been added as a playable character to Sonic Forces and Sonic Dash, and in July, Sonic Dash will get Dragon Hunter Lancelot (a Shadow variant from Sonic and the Black Knight). Classic Super Sonic will join the mobile games in the future, but the stream was vague on details.

Samba de Amigo: Party Central

Rhythm game Samba de Amigo: Party Central will include two songs from the Sonic series when it launches on August 29 for the Switch: Escape From the City from Sonic Adventure 2 and Fist Bump from Sonic Forces. There will also be a stage based on City Escape from Sonic Adventure 2, as well as costumes and accessories based on the series available through the digital deluxe edition.

Sonic Symphony dates

Sega announced dates for Sonic Symphony, a touring orchestra that is playing selections from the series’ history. The show was streamed during Sonic’s 30th anniversary, but now fans will be able to see the performance in person later this year and into 2024. Tickets go on sale June 28 at 10 a.m. Pacific / 1 p.m. Eastern, and the dates are as follows:

  • Sept 16, 2023 / London, Barbican Hall
  • Sept 22, 2023 / Paris, Le Grand Rex
  • Sept 30, 2023 / Los Angeles, Dolby Theatre
  • Oct 14-15, 2023 / São Paulo, Brasil Game Show
  • Oct 21, 2023 / Boston, Emerson Colonial Theatre
  • Oct 28, 2023 / Chicago, Auditorium Theatre
  • Nov 17, 2023 / Düsseldorf, Mitsubishi Electric Halle
  • Dec 15, 2023 / San Antonio, Majestic Theatre
  • Dec 29, 2023 / Atlanta, Cobb Energy P.A.C.
  • Jan 05, 2024 / Seattle, Paramount Theatre
  • Jan 06, 2024 / San Francisco, Davies Symphony Hall
  • Jan 20, 2024 / Washington DC, Warner Theater
  • Jan 27, 2024 / Kansas City, Kansas City Music Hall
  • Feb 11, 2024 / Tokyo, Line Cube Shibuya
  • Feb 17, 2024 / Toronto, Meridian Hall
  • Mar 24, 2024 / Montreal, Wilfrid-Pelletier Theater
  • Mar 29, 2024 / Portland, Schnitzer Auditorium

Tails Tube

Sega has been releasing episodes of Tails Tube, a web series about Tails being a VTuber, on the Sonic YouTube channel, and will be releasing new episodes “soon.”

Merchandise hour

Next up was the merchandise block, which included: a Jakks Pacific playset of Sonic and Eggman fighting on the Death Egg, Sonic Crocs, a collaboration with streetwear brand Hypland that will be available on June 26, Sonic and Shadow Cable Guy controller holders, a statue of Sonic and Shadow from S-Fire, an ESP electric guitar covered in art of classic Sonic, an Igloo Sonic Playmate cooler, an IDW one-shot comic starring Amy for her 30th anniversary, and five new Lego playsets based on the series coming out on August 1.

Image for article titled Everything Sega Announced For Sonic The Hedgehog’s 32nd Anniversary

Screenshot: Sega / Kotaku

Eggman raps

Series antagonist Doctor Ivo Robotnik hijacked the stream to deliver some bars about how he’s a bad dude who does bad things, reveal his new Lego minifigure, and then ask people to use the #makelegosonicmoreeggman hashtag to show Lego they want them to make and release the Eggman-ified Sonic set you see above. Yes, it’s nightmare fuel, but if I had to see it, you do, too.

Sega

Sonic Superstars

Closing out the show was Sonic Superstars, the upcoming 2D game that looks to modernize the classic formula with a 3D art syle. Along with a brief look at the game, Sega also released an interview with original character designer Naoto Ohshima and Sonic Team creative officer Takashi Iizuka about the game. It’s mostly fluff, but you can see the extended version not featured in the stream above.

The last announcement was that Sega is collaborating with Lego to bring the Eggman minifigure to the game for those who pre-order the game.

Sega reminds you Shadow is in the next movie without showing him

Those who have seen Sonic the Hedgehog 2 know that Shadow appears in the post-credits scene and will play a role in Sonic the Hedgehog 3. As the show closes, Ivo Gerscovich, the chief brand and business officer for the series, says to “keep an eye out” for the third movie and reminds us Shadow the Hedgehog will be featured. But I’m keeping an eye out, Ivo, but I would like to see him now, thank you.

Xbox Emails Show It Had Plans To Buy Sega And Bungie

Microsoft is currently in court trying to move forward with its massive deal to acquire Activision Blizzard. But new emails, which surfaced during the ongoing court hearing, reveal that Xbox was discussing plans to buy up other video game studios and publishers, including Sega, Bungie, Niantic, IO Interactive, and Zynga, all in an effort to help grow its popular Game Pass service.

The ongoing trial between Microsoft and the FTC follows over a year of the Xbox maker trying to convince various governments around the world to let the company buy Call of Duty and Warcraft publisher Activision Blizzard. The current court hearing isn’t about blocking the deal, but pausing it long enough so the FTC has time to “evaluate the antitrust merits” of the case. The FTC worries that merging the two mega companies will make competition within the realm of video games harder. And as part of this ongoing trial, a lot of new information from internal emails and company execs has become public, including the confirmation that Microsoft was looking to buy up more companies beyond Activision.

On Monday, The Verge reported on new emails revealed during the trial that show Xbox boss Phil Spencer emailing Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Microsoft CFO Amy Hood requesting approval to begin conversations with Sega over possibly acquiring the company and its gaming studios to help “accelerate” the growth of Game Pass.

“We believe that Sega has built a well-balanced portfolio of games across segments with global geographic appeal, and will help us accelerate Xbox Game Pass both on and off-console,” wrote Spencer in the email dated November 10, 2020. In the email, Spencer also pointed to how much money Sega brought in and admitted that acquiring the company, which is headquartered in Japan, would involve overcoming some “complexities.”

It’s not clear in currently available documents and emails what happened next, if Nadella approved the talks, or how Sega reacted.

Other game companies Xbox was looking to buy

Also revealed in court docs today is what basically amounts to a hitlist of studios and publishers that Microsoft might want to buy. The list was dated April 2021 and interestingly, Sega was still on it, seemingly confirming (at the very least) that Microsoft wasn’t giving up on consuming the Sonic maker.

Other names on the list included Hitman developers IO Interactive, Pokémon Go creators Niantic, mobile gaming juggernaut Zynga (which eventually got bought by Take-Two), and Hades dev Supergiant Games.

Perhaps the funniest company on the list is Destiny developer and Halo creator Bungie, aka a company Microsoft already bought years ago.

But then Bungie parted ways with Microsoft, went solo, started working on Destiny, partnered with Activision, then killed that deal and went independent again. Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard is now in line to join the Microsoft machine, and it seems the megacorp had its sights set, once again, on Bungie. However, Sony bought Bungie in January 2022. And now Sony and PlayStation are the main opponents to Microsoft acquiring Activision. What an odd mess of corporate nonsense.

 

Huge (Sometimes Tragic) Trove Of Sega Docs From The ’90s Leaked

While Microsoft’s FTC case has let the world catch a glimpse behind the scenes at a modern platform holder’s emails, at the same time an enormous treasure trove of old Sega documents from the ‘90s have leaked, and they go a long way to explaining…well, why Sega isn’t a platform holder anymore.

The documents, collected and uploaded to Sega Retro, are a mixed bag of everything from E3 floor plans to financial results. Some of the highlights, though, are internal emails, like this one from March 1996 where former Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinsky writes about the Sega Saturn vs Sony’s PlayStation, a fight that did not end the way it started:

It is one thing to hear/read about how well we are doing in Japan vs. Sony, it’s another to personally witness it. I just visited 10 retail stores in Tokyo (most in Akihabra); it’s now spring break so the crowds of teens/college kids are huge. We are killing Sony. In every store, Saturn hardware is sold out and there are stacks of Playstation. The retailers commented they can’t compare the true sales rate because Saturn sells out before they can measure accurately. Our interactive displays are better, our software displays and stocking far superior. It is not unusual to see 40-50 copies of Panzer Zwei or Virtua Fighter 2 stocked in even small stores and they are selling fast. I wish I could get all our staff, sales people, retailers, analysts, media, etc. to see and understand what’s happening in Japan; they would then understand why we will win here in the U.S. eventually.

How do we show that at E3?

To be fair to Tom, in the earliest days of 1994-95 the Saturn—buoyed by the popularity of Virtua Fighter—did indeed outsell the PlayStation in Japan! That success was only short-lived, however, and by the time Final Fantasy VII dropped in 1997 Sony’s console was out of sight, making Kalinsky’s “We are killing Sony” line one of the most poorly-aged in video game history.

In another document, here’s Kalinsky again, cutting a more forlorn figure in April 1996 as he makes extra clear the Saturn’s new $249 pricepoint—an attempt to undercut Sony’s famous $299 launch price for the PlayStation—while also wondering what the hell is going on with with the “Hare Krishna cult members” in a Saturn TV commercial:

Image for article titled Huge (Sometimes Tragic) Collection Of Sega Documents From The '90s Have Leaked

Here’s the commercial, if you’ve never seen it:

LA ZONA BLANCA – 1996 Sega Saturn TV Spot – “Nothing Else Matters” Campaign

Also interesting are a range of marketing strategies for 1997, which give an insight into the kind of battle Sega was facing by that stage of the Saturn’s launch; while some ideas are built on selling the Saturn on its own strengths, like Sega’s first-party games, there’s a lot of stuff that’s just obsessed with Sony’s plans, reacting to Sony’s pricing, trying to pre-empt Sony’s release schedule…it really speaks to a company that by 1997 is playing catch-up in nearly every way possible.

Image for article titled Huge (Sometimes Tragic) Collection Of Sega Documents From The '90s Have Leaked

Moving on, here’s a list of Sega’s “critical software issues” facing the Saturn in the 97 financial year, and they are brutally honest, calling out Psygnosis, talking mad shit about (the famously hellish) Heart of Darkness and wondering just how many of these games are going to be ready to show at E3:

Image for article titled Huge (Sometimes Tragic) Collection Of Sega Documents From The '90s Have Leaked

If you want to read the full document dump, it’s available here, and aside from the kind of stuff I’ve posted above also includes a range of cereal promotion box art, sales records and even internal emails lamenting how terrible Sega’s sports output had become.

And if reading through any of this has you feeling like Sega was a company in trouble, remember that a lot of these documents are from 1997. Sega would be out of the console business entirely just four years later, in 2001.

Sega Bins Blockchain, NFT Plans, Calls F2P Games ‘Boring’

KIRYUUUU CHAN

Screenshot: Sega

In April 2021, at the height of Web 3 Mania, Sega was one of the biggest companies to pledge its future to the scam that was “play to earn”. Now, just two years later and after the ass has completely fallen out of that market, Sega has had a change of heart.

As we wrote at the time, in a story with the headline ‘Sega Wants To Sell NFTs, Can Fuck Right Off’:

Sega Japan announced earlier today that it will be getting into the NFT business, partnering with (and buying a stake in) a company called Double Jump Tokyo, with plans to not only sell character-related tokens, but NFTs in future games as well.

The announcement is thin on details, but as Pocket Gamer reports, Sega hopes this “will be the start of a sequential expansion into a variety of content, including IPs currently in development and new IPs to be released in the future.”

Those plans are now mostly done for. In an interview with Bloomberg, Sega’s co-Chief Operating Officer Shuji Utsumi has said the company will now “withhold its biggest franchises from third-party blockchain gaming projects to avoid devaluing its content”, and will also be “shelving plans to develop its own games in that genre at least for now”.

“We’re looking into whether this technology is really going to take off in this industry, after all”, Utsumi told the site, adding that while its “biggest franchises” are off the table, “lesser known” properties like Three Kingdoms and Virtua Fighter will still be seeing some NFT tie-ins, albeit from third-party providers.

His best quote, however, is where he bluntly says “The action in play-to-earn games is boring. What’s the point if games are no fun?” My guy, we were telling you that in 2021, glad you finally came around.

Sega Cancels Hyenas Before Launch, Studio Faces Layoffs

Sega has canceled the yet-to-be-released Hyenas, an extraction shooter set in space that was in development at Total War and Alien Isolation studio Creative Assembly. The publisher also canceled several other, unannounced games as part of “structural reforms” across its European operations.

Announced in June 2022, Hyenas was described as a “sci-fi space piracy multiplayer FPS” pitting teams of players against each other and NPCs as they fought to steal valuable items and pieces of pop culture, like Sonic statues and Rubik’s cubes. On September 11, the game wrapped up its most recent beta. 17 days later, Sega and the developers behind Hyenas confirmed it was canceled.

The news broke Thursday via a post on Twitter from the official Hyena’s account confirming that it had ended development on the shooter, and saying that the decision to cancel the game wasn’t “made lightly.”

“We knew our plans were ambitious,” said Creative Assembly, “And we knew we were diving headfirst into competition with some of the greats. But we believed in the journey and we’re proud to have taken every step along the way. We hope you’ll join us in remembering the action-packed, zero-G chaos and the diehard community of players who helped us make it special.”

Following reports from IGN that Creative Assembly may face layoffs, the studio tweeted its own separate statement after confirming the cancellation of Hyenas. In it, the dev team explained that it had begun the “difficult” process of “redundancy consultation.”

“This may, unfortunately, result in job losses,” said Creative Assembly. “While we must go through this incredibly difficult process, we will prioritize supporting our people at every step. For those whose jobs are at risk, we will work to re-allocate them into other available roles within [Creative Assembly] wherever possible, and ultimately minimize any job losses.”

Creative Assembly sent over this statement to Kotaku:

Creative Assembly, part of SEGA Europe, has announced the beginning of a redundancy consultation process, alongside ending development of HYENAS. This decision affects areas of its UK operations, which may result in job losses.

We understand that this has a significant impact on our people, whether they are directly at-risk of redundancy or not. Our people-first approach remains foundational to how we operate; the priority is to work with those whose jobs are at-risk and re-allocate them to other available opportunities at CA wherever possible.

We are absolutely committed to delivering more exciting game experiences long into the future, which will delight both current and potential players all over the world.

Why Hyenas was canceled

These possible layoffs and the canceled game are part of a larger situation at Sega, which owns Creative Assembly.

In a press release posted Thursday on SegaSammy’s official website, the company blamed its lower profits in the UK on less demand for games due to fewer people being stuck at home after the lifting of covid-19 lockdowns and an “economic downturn due to inflation” in Europe. To “adapt to these changes” and “improve” profits in the region, Sega is implementing “structural reforms” after reviewing in-development games.

“In response to the lower profitability of the European region,” said Sega, “We have reviewed the title portfolio of each development base in Europe and the resulting action will be to cancel ‘HYENAS’ and some unannounced titles under development. Accordingly, we will implement a write-down of work-in-progress for titles under development.”

For those worried, Sega confirmed its “Pachinko Machines Business” continues to “perform well.”

Layoffs and cancellations have been an unfortunate industry trend in 2023, as every week seems to bring another wave of firings across countless video game studios and publishers like EA, Unity, and Riot.

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Sega Just Canceled Its Most Expensive Game Ever

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.

Sega

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.

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