System Shock 3 In Limbo? Anonymous User Claims Full Staff Layoff
It seems like the System Shock franchise might be re-dead again. After 21 years of waiting, fans were excited to return to the wonderful world of cyber-horror. The franchise spawned many spiritual successors, the biggest of which being the exceptional BioShock series (Shock is right there in the name). As lovely as BioShock was, fans wanted to once again see the insidious AI SHODAN terrorizing the halls of yet another derelict space station. We got a lovely trailer back in 2019 (pictured above), but since then it’s been mostly bad news. The developer OtherSide Entertainment has been consistently laying off key staff members, with a forum thread dating all the way back to June detailing the whole ordeal. It’s quite a long and depressing read. As of today, VGC is reporting that the whole dev team has been laid off. So how did this happen? Is it even true?
First off, these facts all come second-hand from various different sources. It all started when the former OtherSide community manager Sam Luangkhot commented on the previously mentioned forum thread detailing the company’s layoffs. In his post, he sites a source that he claims is another System Shock 3 team member that has been let go. Linking to the RPGCodex forum, an anonymous poster by the name of King Corn Karn makes several claims, including that, “the team is no longer employed there.“ The whole discussion initially starts with someone calling out the above trailer for being all scripted, which prompts King Corn Karn to claim that the systems were almost completed. It then evolves into the claim that the studio was now a ghost town, and that he couldn’t reveal more without breaking his NDA. The forum is kind of hard to parse through, but if you ctrl+f King Corn Karn you should find the important bits.
So, an anonymous forum user claiming to be a developer has claimed that the whole team is gone. It’s not really the most reliable source. However, there are certain factors lend credibility to the claim. First and foremost, Overkill had to sell the rights for System Shock 3 back to OtherSide after the financial failure of Overkill’s The Walking Dead. Now the sole owners, OtherSide spent some time looking for new publishers while exploring the option to self-publish. I know, a link heavy article, but that’s the last one. At the time, creative director Warren Spector claimed that OtherSide was, “flush enough that we’re funding ourselves and can continue to do that for quite a while.” He also mentioned that while they could self-publish, they didn’t really want to. Publishing takes time and work away from the development they were focusing on. So was that all a lie, or did they run through their money faster than expected.
Okay, we’re exiting the realm of the reported claims and into Ted’s red-hot-take zone. Having read through the forum posts so you don’t have to, it’s clear that OtherSide is experiencing a lot of layoffs. While it is possible that the studio is just flat broke, I highly doubt that an IP as widely anticipated as System Shock 3 would find itself completely without any investors. The simplest explanation is that the forum post by Mr. Corn is just exaggerating the number of layoffs. There’s no official word that OtherSide has shut its doors. Another explanation is that the team needs to downsize to meet the guidelines of a new publisher. Perhaps they didn’t get as much money as they hoped. Or perhaps they’ve partnered with another studio and are eliminating redundant jobs. All I’m saying is, it’s not good to jump to a conclusion based on a single forum post.
That all being said, my heart goes out to all the developers that lost their jobs. The industry is a tumultuous beast, and I wish you all the luck in finding greener pastures.