Monday, 6 February 2017

New DEUS EX games "on hold" after "disappointing" sales

Square Enix have put the Deus Ex video game series on indefinite hold following disappointing sales of the latest game in the series, Mankind Divided.

The official reason is that Square has signed a massive, multi-million dollar deal with Marvel to develop a series of new games based on their superheroes, with a major new Avengers game being the first out of the gate. Square has moved the Crystal Dynamics team (responsible for the latest Tomb Raider games) over to The Avengers and reassigned Eidos Montreal from the next Deus Ex game to pick up the next Tomb Raider title, provisionally entitled Shadows of the Tomb Raider, instead.

This move has attracted controversy. Unlike the previous Deus Ex game, Human Revolution, Mankind Divided was supposed to be the opening title in either a two or three-game series that would have completed the story of Adam Jensen and the rise of the world seen in the original Deus Ex games. Although the primary storyline of Mankind Divided is resolved in that game, there some dangling plot threads that were due to be picked up in the next game. Indeed, Eidos Montreal were several months into the development of the next game when Mankind Divided was released, suggesting the millions of dollars of work may have now been abandoned already.

However, Eidos Montreal does have two teams; their second team was working on the Thief reboot whilst the first was working on Mankind Divided. The possibility that one of these teams could continue working on Mankind Divided II has unfortunately been shot down: the second team is now working on a Guardians of the Galaxy game, part of the same Marvel deal.

Given the titanic money involved in the Marvel deal and the disappointing sales of Mankind Divided, it seems unlikely that we are going to see a new Deus Ex game in the near future. This is disappointing, but nothing new to fans of the franchise, which previously had an eight-year hiatus between Invisible War and Human Revolution. The game universe and fiction is compelling enough that, even if Adam Jensen's story is over, we will likely see it return at some distant point in the future.

It's also unclear if Mankind Divided's sales were disappointing, in that Eidos and Square lost money, or didn't meet unrealistic sales expectations. Apparently Square felt that the performance of the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot game was disappointing despite selling over a million copies in its first months on sale, which by any sane metric is actually very impressive. Mankind Divided's sales have been described as a bit less than Human Revolution's in a comparable time period, but harder figures have not been released.

In the meantime, dystopian SF RPG fans are holding out hope for CD Projekt Red's epic Cyberpunk 2077, although that is not expected for a couple more years.

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