A post on Shacknews late yesterday cites an anonymous source, who claims that developer Human Head had stopped working on Prey 2 all the way back in November, apparently due to a contract dispute with publisher Bethesda. Yesterday, Bethesda sent out a press release to announce that Prey 2 would be delayed because it didn’t meet the publisher’s “quality standards.”
The Shacknews post, however, alleges that “Human Head was not happy with the terms of its contract with [Bethesda parent company] ZeniMax, and deliberately stopped work on the game in November so it could try to negotiate a more favorable deal.” Apparently members of the development team were laid off in the hopes that they’d be brought back aboard once the contract issue was resolved.
“The process seemed to be gathering some positive momentum until January when ZeniMax’s responses all but stopped, causing some of the laid-off Prey 2 team to wonder if the game would ever see the light of day.
By March 1, the source said, things had progressed a bit, leaving the Prey 2 team hopeful that they would return to work soon. But that quickly soured the following day. The source could provide no further first-hand details after March 2.”
When asked for a response, ZeniMax said, “we aren’t commenting on the game’s development beyond what was said in the statement that was released [yesterday].”
Hearing that Human Head encountered a contract problem with ZeniMax isn’t too surprising at this point, now that the bad deal between Obsidian and the publisher has seen the light of day, not to mention the court battle between ZeniMax and Interplay.
Back in late March, Human Head’s lead graphics programmer, Brian Karis, tweeted that ZeniMax had “forced” them to pull their Prey 2 talk planned for GDC, which was probably the first signal that not only was the game in trouble, but so was the relationship between the developer and the publisher.
At this point, don’t be surprised when you hear that Prey 2 is reassigned to another studio—or gets scrapped altogether. And then, another courtroom battle! Good times.