Rumour: Nintendo cancels Eternal Darkness 2; Fact: Silicon Knights hit by layoffs

#1
I already expected this to happen. So where to start?

Last year, Silicon Knights and Nintendo started to work together once again on a new title. Based on the fact that they already had Wii U dev kits and also based on Dyack's comments, it was Eternal Darkness 2.

With Nintendo being a major owner of Silicon Knights, they were pretty much the studio's last saviour. After the commercial and critical failure of Too Human, just as well as long delays of both Too Human and The Ritualist (Sega, later THQ), Silicon Knights was pretty much avoided by 3rd parties. While they still got a contract for X-Men Destiny, the title received miserable reviews. All of this led to a series of layoffs, going from 150 employees in 2007 to only 40 in 2012.

Of course, the Epic trial was not much of a help either. While SK already had a buckload of debt (e.g., a loan which needs to be paid back next year to the government (?)), 3rd party publishers feared that if SK lost the trial, SK would close shops and the game would end up unfinished.

So as already mentioned, the studio was solely dependent on Nintendo's goodwill since late November 2011. But then the trial against Epic took place last week, and SK lost it. SK was ordered to pay 4.5 mio USD to Epic, and additionally they may need to pay for Epic's legal fees (any idea about that amount? Should it be above one million?). The company's debt rose to a new level.

That's apparently when Nintendo noticed that things may not look as shiny anymore. I do not know what the budget for a mid-tier HD game like Eternal Darkness 2 would have been, perhaps 40, perhaps 50 millions USD? When Nintendo saw that they would need to pay an additional 10 million USD to have the company survive that develops the game, they didn't seem to like it, especially as they wouldn't get anything in return. This has happened in the past too, do you remember Factor 5?

So it looks like there have been internal discussions between Nintendo and Silicon Knights. NCL reviewed its decision and it appears as if Eternal Darkness 2 is cancelled for now. Hence, many of the 40-man team were laid off, leaving the studio in limbo now.

Obviously, Dyack anticipated what was to come. He did not comment on the outcome of the trial except for saying that they will appeal - that appears to be a last attempt to save the studio now; they've got nothing to lose anymore.

Good luck to all employees who lost their job!
 

Ushojax

Should probably not trust the 7-11 security cameras quite so much
#11
Dyack you stupid bastard. You stupid, stupid bastard.

Nintendo I'm begging you, give the game to somebody else. I would sell my soul for ED2.
 
#13
If only Epic has settled early, this might have all blown over instead of dragging on for years. Always sad to see developers go under and regardless of GAF's for/against when it comes to Dyack, I enjoyed Too Human.
 
#15
Will happen sooner or later, but we should give them some time to see if they can survive somehow. Everything else wouldn't be fair.
I do wonder if this means that they are going to go door to door to ever single publisher trying to do just something third rank thing to keep head above water now, or just become that company everyone outsources to like with Darksiders.
 
#16
Oh shiiiiiit, I was so looking forward to Eternal Darkness 2 :(

If Nintendo retains the IP, I wonder if they'll bring a different studio on board to finish it...
 
#20
So what was the reason for the SK lawsuit? The game was delayed? The game sucked? The device costs were too high?

I remember Too Human's menu having frame rate issues, I just shooked my head.
 
#22
So what was the reason for the SK lawsuit? The game was delayed? The game sucked? The device costs were too high?

I remember that game's menu having frame rate issues, I just shooked my head.
Unhappy with UE, thought Epic did not provide them with enough help, wanted to take Epic to court...lost.
 
#24
I always thought they should have had become a Nintendo 2nd party much sooner.
They were good during the gamecube age, but they went out on their own and this is where it got them.

Unhappy with UE, thought Epic did not provide them with enough help, wanted to take Epic to court...lost.
You're joking right? Is it in the contract that Epic give you a class on how to use UE3? Hell, maybe they shouldn't have joined the UE3 ban wagon and made their own engine.
 

Pie and Beans

Look for me on the local news, I'll be the guy arrested for trying to burn down a Nintendo exec's house.
#29
Dyack seemingly had a real "biting the hand that feeds you" and blame game complex going on all through his career. Whether it was blaming game journalists or the entire preview/review system for the savaging his sub-par game received and not actually using that criticism to improve it, or turning on the engine providers when his supposedly amazing game failed to take the world by storm, the guy is like some modern day parable of what happens when you get consumed by weird vengeance all the time.

Pity people are obviously losing their jobs, but its been a long time since I've seen a spark of talent at Silicon Knights. They'll achieve much more now not anchored to a ship with a captain that keeps trying to win fights against icebergs.
 
#33
Dyack seemingly had a real "biting the hand that feeds you" and blame game complex going on all through his career. Whether it was blaming game journalists or the entire preview/review system for the savaging his sub-par game received and not actually using that criticism to improve it, or turning on the engine providers when his supposedly amazing game failed to take the world by storm, the guy is like some modern day parable of what happens when you get consumed by weird vengeance all the time.

Pity people are obviously losing their jobs, but its been a long time since I've seen a spark of talent at Silicon Knights. They'll achieve much more now not anchored to a ship with a captain that keeps trying to win fights against icebergs.
He was blaming Unreal for the game's shitty E3 showing, promising it'd be fixed for release. Oops.
 
#34
I do wonder if this means that they are going to go door to door to ever single publisher trying to do just something third rank thing to keep head above water now, or just become that company everyone outsources to like with Darksiders.
Both alternative are pretty much ruled out. Either they find a way to pay back their debt, which is only possible by either winning the lawsuit or by finding an external investor - I heard Curt Schilling is interested (sorry), or they go bankrupt.


Oh shiiiiiit, I was so looking forward to Eternal Darkness 2 :(

If Nintendo retains the IP, I wonder if they'll bring a different studio on board to finish it...
I wonder why SK cannot simply reform under a new name and continue development. But well, Epic may try to get money from that "new" studio then. We had that already with Factor 5 and WhiteHarvest LLC...


Budget for mid tier HD game is not $40-50 million.
I said I didn't know, so please enlighten me as it would be pretty interesting to know.
 

grandjedi6

Master of the Google Search
#35
I always thought it was odd and confusing that Nintendo partnered with them in the first place considering Nintendo's aversion to financial troubles (Factor 5, CING)
 

Gahiggidy

My aunt & uncle run a Mom & Pop store, "The Gamecube Hut", and sold 80k WiiU within minutes of opening.
#36
ED was a smart, mature game with high production values for the time. The voice acting and direction of the cut scenes was outstanding.

Plus, the camera system is still the best I've seen in a 3rd party game. So, so awesome was that camera.
 
#37
I always thought it was odd and confusing that Nintendo partnered with them in the first place considering Nintendo's aversion to financial troubles (Factor 5, CING)
It's been a long time. They invested into SK in 2000. A wholly different philosophy and strategy at Nintendo back then.
 
#39
You're joking right? Is it in the contract that Epic give you a class on how to use UE3? Hell, maybe they shouldn't have joined the UE3 ban wagon and made their own engine.
That wasn't really the issue, it was more that Epic provided them with an unfinished engine & they seemed more interested in making GoW than providing what was promised to SK (according to SK anyway)
 
#40
Because of being a Nintendo exclusive, I wonder if people would have vastly overrated ED2 as much as they did 1 back in the day...
"Eternal Darkness" wasn't overrated; it was the last great game SK made, and though its N64 roots were obvious even then, it was a smart, entertaining and enthralling game that served as a great launch title for the little box.
 
#41
Because of being a Nintendo exclusive, I wonder if people would have vastly overrated ED2 as much as they did 1 back in the day...
ED was more about the rich interactive story telling. For what it was, it did an amazing job. would you knock Heavy Rain for not being much of a game?
 
#43
not that i'm happy about this, but SK is going down. They haven't made a good game in years and this epic lawsuit is gonna kill them. kinda sad to see them go, i'll always remember eternal darkness and blood omen.
 
#44
ED2 could be one of those landmark Wii-U games. Imagine the Sanity stuff working via the controller screen. Weird stuff popping up, making you panic more and make mistakes. Who cares about basic inventory and maps, do something utterly creative and bonkers with it.
 
#48
I do wonder if this means that they are going to go door to door to ever single publisher trying to do just something third rank thing to keep head above water now, or just become that company everyone outsources to like with Darksiders.
?

Darksiders was original IP created by brand new studio Vigil Games. They also worked on Warhammer 40K MMO, but financial instability of THQ shifted focus of the game back to the more traditional "Space Marine" action experience, just with trillion % of more content. Currently they are finishing work on very ambitious DS2.
 
#49
?

Darksiders was original IP created by brand new studio Vigil Games. They also worked on Warhammer 40K MMO, but financial instability of THQ shifted focus of the game back to the more traditional "Space Marine" action experience, just with trillion % of more content. Currently they are finishing work on very ambitious DS2.
...and SK are reported to have assisted with grunt work on "Darksiders", which is what Vinterbird is getting at.
 
#50
This is Nintendo politics I don't understand, or at least I don't agree with.
If they want third party love, they better show more interest in their second party first.
If they want more core gamers games and generally more games for their systems, they also need to invest in more western studios.
They should have secured Silicon Knights IPs and supported them years ago.