Prey 2 may be cancelled, but that could be a good thing

Bad news for anyone hoping to play as a dangerous interstellar bounty hunter later this year: It looks like Prey 2 has been cancelled.

A Friday report at Dutch website PS Focus said that development of the Human Head Studios-developed, Behtesda/ZeniMax-published Prey 2 has ceased and the game will be officially cancelled before the week is out. This report came after Zenimax cancelled Human Head Studios staff member Brian Karis’ Game Developers Conference talks on Prey 2 in February.

Bethesda’s Jim Reilly later tweeted, “Bethesda has no comment on Prey 2’s rumored cancellation.”

Revealed at E3 last year, Prey 2 garnered a significant amount of interest from video game press thanks to an impressive demo. While a sequel to the 2006 first-person shooter Prey in name, Prey 2 diverged greatly from that game’s Doom-style action and its proto-Portal-style puzzles. Instead the game was a unique blend of storytelling and frantic action, with lead character Killian Samuels working as a bounty hunter on the planet Exodus chasing down criminals in vast futuristic cities. The one public demo of the game included chases sequences, art, and choice-based dialogue that recalled the film Blade Runner, the first-person running and jumping game Mirror’s Edge, and Mass Effect.

Bethesda/Zenimax’s “no comment” is discouraging—a publisher saying “no comment on cancellation” means “yes it’s cancelled” in the same way that your mom saying “maybe” means “yes.” This may ultimately be a good thing though. Ties to the largely forgotten Prey could have limited Prey 2’s potential for finding an audience. If it’s cancelled but salvaged and reborn under a different name it could have a better chance at success.

This isn’t an unheard of scenario either. Square-Enix’s upcoming Sleeping Dogs, developed by United Front Games, actually began its life in 2009 as the Activision project True Crimes: Hong Kong. Activision cancelled the game in February of 2011. Square in turn bought the publishing rights to the game in August but did not decide to buy the True Crime brand along with it.

It was a wise choice. The True Crime brand was all but worthless. True Crimes: New York City, the most recent of only two games in the series, came out in 2005 and sold just 73,000 copies in its first month, a performance that Activision called “disappointing.”  An understatement to say the least. Regardless of whether or not Sleeping Dogs is a good game, it wouldn’t have been helped by a name that players ignored in the first place.

The same is true of Prey. That game sold just 280,000 copies according to VGChartz. If Prey 2 is cancelled, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the very interesting looking game Human Head Studios is making won’t be released in another form.

Updated: Bethesda has told us that they are officially not commenting on this story.  

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