Developer Little Orbit announced that Mistborn: Birthright has been cancelled on their Facebook page, where CEO Matthew Scott discussed the troubled development of the title.
Beginning back in 2011, Mistborn: Birthright was originally going to be a smaller project and by mid-2012 they had a working vertical slice of the game. For those not familiar, a vertical slice is a section designed to show the interaction of various mechanics and serve as a proof of concept. However, later that year, a partner in the studio sold his part of the company to a major publisher, leading to a lot of changes as they worked out how to split people between several organizations. This led to half the development team leaving as part of the deal and work on the project was shelved for a while.
About a year later, work began again in earnest on Mistborn: Birthright; however, now Little Orbit had a bigger vision for the game they wanted to deliver. To help achieve this, they reached out to many larger RPG developers, most notably Obsidian, who was in talks with them over it. Chris Avellone (this was back in 2013 when he was still at Obsidian), was a major advocate for the project, but after months of discussion, they were unable to reach an agreement that worked with Obsidian’s busy schedule.
From there, it was a further break, and they eventually opted to increase the budget for the Mistborn: Birthright project further. This led to talks in 2014 with High Voltage Studios about using the Saints Row technology to make an open world Mistborn game that combined elements of Assassin’s Creed and Dishonored with the physics gameplay of Allomancy (the main magic system at the time period the game was set in). They had funding set up and did a kickoff event with Brandon Sanderson in early 2015, but this new path was to be relatively short lived. Over the next few months, two of Little Orbit’s retail distributors went out of business, taking large amounts of revenue and nearly bankrupting the company and cancelling funding for future titles.
After further reflection, in his post, Scott said they were saddened that they were unable to make Mistborn: Birthright, but they would like to let someone else make a great Mistborn game rather than continue to hold onto the rights.
As a fan of the Mistborn books and Sanderson’s work in general, I find this quite sad. Personally, Mistborn: Birthright was a title I kept my eyes on anytime the rare snippets of news or information on it emerged and am sad we won’t ever see it in any of the iterations it went through. It also is a tale of the struggles that go into game development from the business side often, as Little Orbit has had great struggles throughout this process, and I hope they are able to emerge on the other side in the end.
Hopefully, someone else takes the license and is able to make a good game though.