Bethesda responds to Prey 2 cancellation

shinobi602

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Shit happens.
Bethesda marketing VP Pete Hines talked to GameSpot at QuakeCon about the game and explained why it was canned.

"I mean, honestly, it's really not that complicated," Hines said. "It hit a point where it wasn't shaping up to be what we wanted and there didn't seem to be a clear path to get to where we thought it needed to be. We decided the best thing to do was just to not proceed. That's just it."

Hines added that he doesn't think Bethesda will ever go into more details about the situation, as it's all in the past and developer Human Head is working on other projects now.
"I don't want to go through and talk about stuff like, well, he said this and we said that," Hines explained. "I want those guys to have every success and to not have to keep bringing up this thing. Games get canceled. It happens. Marriages go bad. It happens."
Despite not wanting to bring up the past, Hines did contact Human Head co-founder Chris Rhinehart before Bethesda revealed the new Prey at E3. He wanted to give Rhinehart a "heads up" on what was going to happen.

"Again, I want him to be able to do his job and not have to worry about explaining or defending anything,"
Hines added. "It didn't work out."
http://www.gamespot.com/articles/why-prey-2-was-canceled/1100-6442387/
 

Sir_Crocodile

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Was this the one where Bethesda wanted to buy a dev for cheaps so kept shifting milestones on the project so the dev would go bankrupt and could be scooped up?
 
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Was this the one where Bethesda wanted to buy a dev for cheaps so kept shifting milestones on the project so the dev would go bankrupt and could be scooped up?
You know, it happens, Human Head didn't shape up to what they wanted.

This whole situation is why you don't name the new game Prey.
 

DOWN

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Was this the one where Bethesda wanted to buy a dev for cheaps so kept shifting milestones on the project so the dev would go bankrupt and could be scooped up?
Yep

All the smoke around the cancellation suggested the fire was in the board room and not the game itself
 

Mivey

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I have seen a similar post to this a couple of times. Do we have source for this? Sounds juicy.
Mostly the devs themselves, though even they later just stopped talking about it, probably since they realized there was nothing they could do, except move on. Clearly, Beth is going to deny this and they are not dumb enough to publish anything were they clearly state their shaddy dealings.
 

Mechazawa

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I mean.

They're not going to just come out and say they failed their corporate takeover if that's what actually happened.
 

OrbitalBeard

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I really cannot fathom why this is called Prey. I guess they must really like that name for some reason.

Game looks great though. I just find the whole situation to be odd.
 

Jawmuncher

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Reads more like, we weren't able to take over human head games so we scrapped them and everything they worked on. We wanted to keep the trade mark however so decided to slap it on a new IP we were creating.

Such a non answer, especially towards the name use and cancelling that entire universe.
 

Patryn

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I really cannot fathom why this is called Prey. I guess they must really like that name for some reason.

Game looks great though. I just find the whole situation to be odd.
Bethesda paid money for the Prey name and IP. It did not originate with them.

They don't want to throw that money away.
 

tuxfool

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The problem, I believe is that HH actually threatened legal proceedings if Bethesda used their work.

So the whole project got canned and taken in a new direction to avoid any legal problems.

Reading this sounds a bit familiar so I guess I just completely forgot about it. Holy shit. Next to Konami, no game company's fallen further in my eyes than Bethesda.
It is rumored that they scooped up Arkane under similar circumstances. The difference is that Arkane were willing to be bought and HH wanted to remain independent.
 

OrbitalBeard

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Bethesda paid money for the Prey name and IP. It did not originate with them.

They don't want to throw that money away.
Sounds like a sunk cost to me.

Unless they really think the name could eventually have a strong brand presence or something. I guess it is simple and catchy.
 

CertifiedFP

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Was this the one where Bethesda wanted to buy a dev for cheaps so kept shifting milestones on the project so the dev would go bankrupt and could be scooped up?
That's not a Bethesda thing.

That's an Every AAA Publisher of the Last Two Generations thing. How do you think EA got all the studios it has, like DICE?

This is also how GRIN died, by resisting Square's attempts to force them into an unfavorable buyout by strangling the FF12 spinoff they were making of funds.
 

Jawmuncher

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The problem, I believe is that HH actually threatened legal proceedings if Bethesda actually used their work.

So the whole project got canned and taken in a new direction to avoid any legal problems.



It is rumored that they scooped up Arkane under similar circumstances. The difference is that Arkane were willing to be bought and HH wanted to remain independent.
That first bit makes sense. After the failed buy out, rather than try to make a new concept for that universe and make their own Prey 2. They just gave up and made a new game and used the name to keep the copyright . Still shitty though. If they would at least rerelease the original by putting it back on steam and calling it like Prey classic or something. I'd cut them some slack.
 

nOoblet16

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Uh everyone knows what happened with Prey 2. All this talk about "It wasn't up to our expectations" is a lie and nothing more. One of the developers even publicly called out Bethesda when they said that on twitter by responding that "We both know what actually happened".

Bethesda realised that they had an absolute stunner at their hands with Prey 2 and tried to take over Human Head via shady methods by making them bankrupt so as to own them for future sequels..
 

Cardon

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The whole game dev business can be tough and all, but I'm not exactly buying these statements based on what leaked before pertaining to the status of the project. So yeah, I'm still miffed about this situation.
 

paragonpro

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"so we used the game on something completley unrelated as a cheap brand name cash in"

Im really excited for the sonic the hedgehog spiritual successor called Mario Brothers.
 

Spacejaws

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That fucking article.

Bethesda unhappy Human Head were using dated tools. Thats a bit of a chuckle from the users of Gamebyro.
 

LiquidSolid

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That's not a Bethesda thing.

That's an Every AAA Publisher of the Last Two Generations thing. How do you think EA got all the studios it has, like DICE?

This is also how GRIN died, by resisting Square's attempts to force them into an unfavorable buyout by strangling the FF12 spinoff they were making of funds.
"Everyone's the same"? Really? I find your unsourced accusations extremely hard to believe. EA bought DICE by gradually buying more and more shares in the company, the same way most public companies are bought. And as for GRIN, that was a case of Square Enix getting cold feet (straight after GRIN released three awful games in a row), pulling funding and then cancelling it. GRIN were doomed regardless though, they were a mid-tier developer developing games in the generation that killed the mid-tier and they'd just released three bad games.

Anyway, sure Pete Hines, I totally believe your PR nonsense. It was a totally amicable breakup where one company just happened to be almost driven out of business.
 

Nokterian

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To me this new prey feels as a nope..it used the name prey but i do not see anything what i played all those years ago and prey 2 could have been something since tommy was in there also.
 

Mr. Tibbs

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Nah. Confirms my thoughts that Hines is a compete sociopath. Here's what the lead world designer said once the caviler Bethesda finally got around to officially cancelling the game.


Human Head stopped working on Prey 2 in November 2011 shortly before the game reached alpha after Bethesda tried to buy the studio through milestone abuse. Human Head, hoping Bethesda would honor their original arrangement, attempted to negotiate with Bethesda. Things were moving forward until March 2012, when talks stalled. Zenimax released a warning to Human Head to return to work through a Dutch news outlet that Prey 2 was going to be cancelled next week. That all stopped on April 9th, 2012 after Human Head announced plans to make Rune II.

On April 19th, Bethesda released an extremely passive-aggressive update, before giving the project to Obsidian who worked on it for a few months. Unfortunately, since they didn't have the source code, or rights to use any of the internal tech Human Head owned (mega-textures, global-based lighting, etc), it was doomed from the start. It was cancelled and quietly removed from Bethesda's upcoming titles on their site in August 2012.
 

Nokterian

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Nah. Confirms my thoughts that Hines is a compete sociopath. Here's what the lead world designer said once the caviler Bethesda finally got around to officially cancelling the game.


Human Head stopped working on Prey 2 in November 2011 shortly before the game reached alpha after Bethesda tried to buy the studio through milestone abuse. Human Head, hoping Bethesda would honor their original arrangement, attempted to negotiate with Bethesda. Things were moving forward until March 2012, when talks stalled. Zenimax released a warning to Human Head to return to work through a Dutch news outlet that Prey 2 was going to be cancelled next week. That all stopped on April 9th, 2012 after Human Head announced plans to make Rune II.

On April 19th, Bethesda released an extremely passive-aggressive update, before giving the project to Obsidian who worked on it for a few months. Unfortunately, since they didn't have the source code, or rights to use any of the internal tech Human Head owned (mega-textures, global-based lighting, etc), it was doomed from the start. It was cancelled and quietly removed from Bethesda's upcoming titles on their site in August 2012.
Fucking bethesda.
 

Octavianus

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Reading this sounds a bit familiar so I guess I just completely forgot about it. Holy shit. Next to Konami, no game company's fallen further in my eyes than Bethesda.
Yeah, these kinds of buisness practices and the excuses people come up with are pretty disgusting.
 

Jonnax

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Bethesda proving yet again that they are a shit company.

Their leaders probably went to the Donald Trump School of Business.
 

ViciousDS

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Nah. Confirms my thoughts that Hines is a compete sociopath. Here's what the lead world designer said once the caviler Bethesda finally got around to officially cancelling the game.


Human Head stopped working on Prey 2 in November 2011 shortly before the game reached alpha after Bethesda tried to buy the studio through milestone abuse. Human Head, hoping Bethesda would honor their original arrangement, attempted to negotiate with Bethesda. Things were moving forward until March 2012, when talks stalled. Zenimax released a warning to Human Head to return to work through a Dutch news outlet that Prey 2 was going to be cancelled next week. That all stopped on April 9th, 2012 after Human Head announced plans to make Rune II.

On April 19th, Bethesda released an extremely passive-aggressive update, before giving the project to Obsidian who worked on it for a few months. Unfortunately, since they didn't have the source code, or rights to use any of the internal tech Human Head owned (mega-textures, global-based lighting, etc), it was doomed from the start. It was cancelled and quietly removed from Bethesda's upcoming titles on their site in August 2012.

holy shit
 

DocSeuss

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That's not a Bethesda thing.

That's an Every AAA Publisher of the Last Two Generations thing. How do you think EA got all the studios it has, like DICE?

This is also how GRIN died, by resisting Square's attempts to force them into an unfavorable buyout by strangling the FF12 spinoff they were making of funds.
Bioware WANTED EA to buy them, after Microsoft passed (I wish Microsoft hadn't passed! Would have been a great first party!) so they suckered Pandemic into a partnership that got Pandemic killed. A few other studios do that. It's safe working for a giant publisher, and a good payout if you own the studio.

GRIN died because Square decided to get racist with them. They literally gave Square back art from FFXII Square had given them, said "hey, do you think this is good enough for Final Fantasy?" and Square said "no, this is too Western," not realizing it was their own art. The whole "you need to fax us the binary" thing was ridiculous too.
 

Mr. Tibbs

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Their leaders probably went to the Donald Trump School of Business.
Apropos of nothing, but Donald Trump's brother is on the advisory board at Zenimax, just if you wondering about the caliber of people involved. Also, their CEO was indicted for fraud and, when settling a civil suit with the Federal Reserve, agreed to be banned from banking.
 

LiQuid!

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I'm not mad that they cancelled Prey 2.

I'm mad that they showed us Prey 2 and then cancelled it.

It was obviously far enough out that it didn't warrant showing it at all
 

Jawmuncher

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Bioware WANTED EA to buy them, after Microsoft passed (I wish Microsoft hadn't passed! Would have been a great first party!) so they suckered Pandemic into a partnership that got Pandemic killed. A few other studios do that. It's safe working for a giant publisher, and a good payout if you own the studio.

GRIN died because Square decided to get racist with them. They literally gave Square back art from FFXII Square had given them, said "hey, do you think this is good enough for Final Fantasy?" and Square said "no, this is too Western," not realizing it was their own art. The whole "you need to fax us the binary" thing was ridiculous too.
During that time frame, GRINS FF game probably would have been better than squares output .
 

Yukinari

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When this was revealed everyone i was watching E3 with kept asking if this was a new IP. Except when they found out it was Prey they didnt feel happy unlike the Resident Evil 7 reveal.
 
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Why they named this game "Prey" and opened themselves up to the cancelled bounty hunter version of the game being thrown in their face is beyond me.
 

Mr. Tibbs

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I'm not mad that they cancelled Prey 2.

I'm mad that they showed us Prey 2 and then cancelled it.

It was obviously far enough out that it didn't warrant showing it at all
Pre-E3 2011, the game was scheduled for a late March 2012 release. After Prey 2 was nominated for game of the show, Bethesda offered Human Head, a team of 55 in the Midwest more time and money to flesh out the game world. The game was nearly at an alpha state when Human Head stopped working in November 2011.

Milestone abuse and a failed hostile acquisitions basically goes like this:

Bethesda disputes Milestones - reasonable or not - and withholds payment while Zenimax, the parent company, offers to loan money while the issues are being sorted, saying it's just an administrative issue that is bound to get resolved, then after several milestones aren't met and the money "lent" becomes too important, it offers to buy the company as a solution.

The companies have done it several times already. Given their documented history, there is no reason to grant them the benefit of the doubt: this is a planned, predatory practice.

If you're giving me money and it looks like I'm failing, and you don't want to give me more money because you don't trust that I can complete the project, why are you trying to buy out my studio?

That's the six million dollar question: if this really was a case of Human Head dropping the ball, ******* up development and ruining Bethesda's investment, why did Bethesda want to pour more money into acquiring the entire studio/team in addition to the product?

The fact is, Human Head were doing such a good job that Bethesda pretended they were doing a shit job so they could gain the financial leverage needed to acquire the entire studio.

I'll try to explain it as best I can. I'm sure there's a proper phrase for it in consumer advocacy environments, but I just call it milestone abuse.

In a traditional publisher-developer relationship in the video games industry, the publisher usually pays the developer through a number of milestones. Here's an example.

> Milestone 1: Exit pre-production with a final design plan
> Milestone 2: Finish X number of levels and audio/graphical assets
> Milestone 3: Have a "vertical slice" demo (showing all core features)
> Milestone 4: Establish a pipeline with the quality assurance testers

Stuff like that.

This system is technically great since it keeps the developer accountable. They only get paid if they keep working and showing progress. I WISH they'd have something like this for Kickstarter.

The problem with milestone abuse is when the milestone criteria isn't shown to the public (due to corporate confidentiality and all of that). Since it's kept behind closed doors, people who actually give a shit can't make sure that the publisher isn't trying to exploit the developer by exploiting loopholes in the contract.

Since most studios can only afford to work on one major project at a time, they need the milestone payments in order to stay afloat. However, if the publisher wants to intentionally bankrupt the developer so that they can purchase their IPs and employee contracts (hostile acquisition), then the publisher just has to ride it out and see who runs out of money first. Since the publisher is almost always wealthier, they just have to play a waiting game and arbitrarily fail the milestones.

> Yeah, you set up a quality assurance pipeline but we don't think it's good enough. No, we don't have to explain why. You think anyone out there's going to look through this contract?

> Yeah, you exited pre-production, but we still count those 10 meetings you did afterwards as part of it. Actually, you deserve less money than we gave. Maybe you should be happy that we're just withholding payment and not suing you.

> You call this a vertical slice? We didn't finish focus testing yet! We still might want more features! Oh, we didn't tell you? That's not our problem.

Once the developer gets desperate enough and they almost reach bankruptcy, the publisher is in a good position to force a buy-out. Since whether or not they did anything legally wrong is really, really complicated and the developer no longer has any money to hire a legal team that can rival a publisher's, most of these end in hostile acquisitions.

The bigger problem here is that you could have very easily achieved the same result by suing Human Head for "not fulfilling the terms of their contract" (and not have to pay a single cent more), but Bethesda never pursued that because they'd have no legal case. If this was presented before an external court that doesn't care about video games, they'd see that Human Head adequately fulfilled all the portions of their contract.

A lawsuit would have been literally cheaper if that was the case. If Bethesda didn't have a documented history of abusing companies in such a way, its people would be granted the same latitude.

BETHESDA OWNS PREY. Human Head fails to complete the project, you take what they've got so far and dump it in some other studio's lap to finish.

The reason you break contract with Human Head is you feel like you're throwing good money after bad; if I pay you, you still won't finish this project, so I'll stop paying you and pay someone else to finish it instead.

Pete Hines "quality" story would ring true if:

1) Bethesda/Zenimax didn't try to acquire the company at the same time it was denying it payment.

2) Bethesda/Zenimax didn't have a recorded history of acquiring companies that way.

With those two elements, that behavior from the company becomes terribly suspicious at best.

Every game Bethesda's published in since New Vegas has missed its release window. Dishonored took four years, Dishonored 2 slipped from Spring 2016 to November, according to the leaked pitch documents Prey was pushed back from Q3 to 2017. Evil Within delayed four months. Wolfenstein: The New Order delayed from the XBONE and PS4 launch to mid-2014. Doom was restarted countless times under their 7 year watch. P2 wasn't an expensive game. HH were a team of 55 in the mid-west. The 15 million marketing budget exceeded the costs of the game. Since they restarted with Arkane, Bethesda had to grow a studio of 24 to 80ish, licence technology and restart the marketing cycle. Pete Hines is a liar because they didn't scrap the game. They took it to Obsidian, and in June 2012, offered "What we said was it was not coming out this year and we're still trying to sort some things out with Human Head," Hines told Eurogamer. "That really hasn't changed. I don't have an update for you on that, other than it's not coming out this year."

Bioware's Jason Richardson, gameplay programmer of P2:
Things have been quiet for a long time regarding Prey 2. Are you able to shed any light on this and the reasons for its delay?[/url]
That is a very complicated subject and one that makes me very sad. I enjoyed working on that project, possibly more than any other. IGN ran an article on Prey 2 last year, in June I think, that explains what happened better than I could here.
Prey 2's narrative director (currently narrative director for Volition)
Prey 2 was a full game. And a crazy fun one. The team was small but you wouldn't have known it. What happened to Prey 2, from where I sat, was political. And petty. And potentially litigable. Human Head had a great game. I was heartbroken when Prey 2 went into limbo. Human Head deserved to have that game released. Frankly, they needed it
Develop:“We stopped working on Prey 2 near the end of 2011, and had been working on it for close to two years,” he says. “It was very close to an alpha state, with all major content pieces represented.

“We were at that point in a game where you can step back and see the whole picture and shift from developer to editor and decide which elements to cut and which elements to emphasis and polish."

Prey 2 would have been counted among the best looking games of the previous console generation.

Norm Nazaroff, project lead on Human Head’s latest title Minimum, adds: "We had a great deal of content created, some of which was shown publicly but a lot of which was not.

“Our tech had progressed significantly past the live demo we ran at E3, Gamescom and PAX and was even more impressive. It’s my personal opinion that we would have been counted among the best looking games of the previous console generation.”

“Bethesda stated their reasons when they finally cancelled the game in October 2014, and needless to say we have our own perspective on the matter that differs from the reasons they stated,” he says.

“As we said in response in October, we feel that the quality of the game was well represented by the materials we displayed in numerous public demonstrations on behalf of Bethesda and we are disappointed that fans won’t be able to see our vision come to life. We remain proud of the work that we did."