What just happened? Strapped for cash and with developers leaving one by one, it looks like the much awaited System Shock 3 is on life support, barring some financial miracle. According to a former developer, the project has been trapped in between the high expectations of its fanbase and the inability of the development team to rise up to them in a reasonable timeframe.
Dial back to March 2019 and System Shock fans still had a lot to hope in seeing a third instalment materialize, especially with teasers that looked fairly good for a game in early development. Some six months later, everyone was greeted with a new trailer that showed a glimpse of what the developers were working on in terms of gameplay, providing more signs that the 20-year wait could soon be over.
Fast forward to this day and a report from VideoGamesChronicle reveals the entire team behind System Shock 3 is "no longer employed" at OtherSide Entertainment, which means the much-awaited sequel might be dead for good, or at most, subject to an uncertain future.
A few key members of the development team had announced their departures in the past few months, the latest being design director Chase Jones who left earlier this week. A likely reason is the company's desperate search for a new publisher, which didn't lead anywhere despite the efforts of the game's creative director, Warren Spector.
According to an anonymous user at the RPG Codex forum claiming to be a former OtherSide developer, the only thing that's set in stone is that the team he was part of is no longer employed at the studio. The development of System Shock 3 is in an unofficial limbo state, he says the entire team was "critically behind" after pouring precious time and resources into experimenting with different concepts. The most likely conclusion is that the project was too ambitious for its questionable financial backing.
The alleged developer sought to clear out some of the confusion, and explained that high expectations around System Shock 3 pushed the small team behind it to get creative, as it "couldn't compete with current immersive sims in production quality and breadth. [...] And we were on our way to make something unique and possibly fun, but probably not what the audience was hungry for."
The past couple of months were particularly stressful as everyone "worked their asses off and made some stunning progress." However, the forum poster notes that the Starbreeze crisis greatly limited the team's ability to deliver a full-fledged sequel to the beloved System Shock franchise. And some of the developers that were laid off have yet to find any full-time work in the fiercely competitive game industry.
At least the System Shock remake is back on track at Nightdive Studios, so fans can look forward to something until there's a new sign of life for System Shock 3. The planned release date is sometime this year, but don't be surprised if it gets pushed further, as it too depends on the work of a small team of game developers.