In a not entirely unexpected turn of events, Swedish publisher Starbreeze have announced that they are selling the publishing rights to System Shock 3 back to OtherSide Entertainment, after investing 12 million in the development back in 2017. As per the agreement, Starbreeze will recoup the development costs, which would be the part of that 12 million already spent. Starbreeze acting CEO Mikael Nermark explained the transaction: “I believe this is the best solution for us, although it is sad that we cannot complete the project with OtherSide. System Shock 3 is a fantastic title developed in cooperation with the industry legend Warren Spector and I am looking forward to seeing the game released.”
Starbreeze had some serious managerial troubles last year, with the Swedish Economic Crime Authority going as far as raiding their offices and seizing computers under suspicion of insider trading, as reported by GamesIndustry.biz. More recently, Eurogamer published a long and comprehensive dossier on the fall of Starbreeze, reporting that the company filed for reconstruction on December 3, 2018. They also indefinitely delayed the console release of Overkill’s The Walking Dead, reporting numerous issues in budget and development cycle, with Starbreeze’s proprietary engine ultimately replaced by Unreal Engine 4.
System Shock 3 was first announced by OtherSide in 2015, following their successful Kickstarter campaign for the now majorly unsuccessful release Underworld Ascendant. In 2016, Warren Spector, producer of the original System Shock (among several other titles), announced he would join OtherSide as a full-time developer. Since then, there hasn’t been much news on that front. The last updates from the game’s official page in OtherSide’s website are from May 2017.
In 2015, Paul Neurath talked to PC Gamer about OtherSide Entertainment and the development of Underworld Ascendant:
There’s an almost tribal culture when the teams are small. Everybody knows each other really well, they know their strengths and weaknesses and foibles and all that, and that’s actually really helpful. And when you get above a certain size, 30 or so, people don’t know each other as well, and they can’t be in close communication with each other. You lose that tight collaboration. So part of what we’re trying to do is to do this with, by modern, triple-A standards, a very small team.
This referred to their original Boston studio, focused on developing Underworld Ascendant. When Warren Spector joined OtherSide, the developers opened another office in Austin, and according to an administrator in OtherSide’s forums, the System Shock 3 development team is entirely separate from the Underworld Ascendant team, though they “share feedback on occasion.” As of February 2018, the game was still in pre-production according to the same administrator.
We reached out to OtherSide Entertainment for comment on the deal and will update the article accordingly.
What do you think about this turn of events? Can System Shock 3 survive such back-and-forth between developer and publisher? Can OtherSide deliver on such a major project after the Underworld Ascendant fiasco? Let us know in the comments below.