The LinkedIn profile of Avalanche Studios cofounder and CEO Christofer Sundberg provides some compelling insight into some of the company's former and current projects.
Sundberg details two unannounced Avalanche open-world action-adventure projects that were cancelled in 2008, contracts that he said were worth upwards of $US35 million. The first, a title for THQ called Arcadia Rising that was cancelled in fall 2008, is described as a "Retro-futuristic action-adventure set in an alternative 1930's London" that offered a "stronger story driven experience compared to the Just Cause series." Sundberg remarked two weeks ago that he would "love to revive it" and would possibly even "do a Kickstarter [for the game]", but also admitted he wasn't terribly inclined to actually pay anything for the IP — a shame since Crimson Skies by way of Avalanche sounds kind of incredible.
The second title, cancelled in early 2008, was "a fantasy action game based on an Avalanche Studios original IP" for Disney dubbed Project: Wizards. Project: Wizards put players in the role of "a young wizard" and featured "the creatures [treated as an] equivalent to modern world vehicles" — a description that is reminiscent of the company's pitch for their now-shelved open-world fantasy title AionGuard, which was born out of a game they were working on for a publisher.
Avalanche ended up buying back the rights to the game that served as a basis for AionGuard, and if that game were Wizards, Avalanche might have accomplished something rather impressive: getting the infamously inflexible Disney to part ways with an IP they owned and put money into.
Sundberg also mentions two unannounced projects presently in development at Avalanche. One of which is Avalanche's "first licence game" (probably the much-rumored Mad Max title) for an apparently to be determined publisher "based on a well-known movie licence," slated for an April 2014 release on "current and next-generation console platforms and PC." However, it is worth noting that Sundberg recently suggested in a tweet that Avalanche was moving exclusively to next-generation development as of late November, which could indicate that current-gen SKUs for Mad Max have been dropped.
The final game that Sundberg lists on his profile is a "Sandbox Action Game" for Square Enix, and those words link to the official website for the Just Cause games. Sundberg says the next Just Cause "is being developed at Avalanche Studios New York studio and is scheduled for completion in June 2015 for next generation console platforms."
Presumably that would mean Avalanche New York's marquee title, codenamed Project Mamba, is a new Just Cause. This would have some interesting implications, as Mamba seemingly integrates "asynchronous multiplayer technologies" and mobile apps — two things that would be a departure for the chaotic sandbox franchise. It's unknown if the "2015" is a typo meant to say "2014" (Mamba's previously stated target date), but the most recent news item on Avalanche's site about the NYC studio makes no mention of a possible release date for the title.
Avalanche is also said to be working a third game based on an unknown comic book franchise.
Two weeks ago, Marvel registered a very curious domain marvelpuzzlequest.com, possibly hinting a comic-themed version of the puzzle-RPG franchise.
Puzzle Quest studio Infinite Interactive regained their independence last year following a merger-of-sorts with fellow Australian developer Firemint, and founder Steve Fawkner said Infinite was working on a new version of Puzzle Quest for release sometime this year.
Back in June, Sony Pictures registered a bevy of domains pertaining to a seemingly possible film about indie games, including indiegamesmovie.com, indiegames-movie.com, playtheindiegames.com, and theindiegamesmovie.com. I should note that film studio domain registrations are slightly different than, say, game domain registrations: studios generally will register domains upon purchasing pitches and scripts for films, as well as potential sequels and such, unlike game publishers who typically won't register domains until well after a project is greenlit, save for sequels.
That said, there is zero indication that this necessarily has anything to do with video games — for all we know, it could be Gladiator with members of Grizzly Bear. But a few months after these domain registrations, an entertainment writer responded to a story about Sony Pictures snapping up "Console War"-related domains with a claim Sony was bandying around an idea for "a Social Network of video gaming." Could this be related to that rumoured project somehow?
In August, Crytek registered the domain arena-of-fate.com, and filed a European trademark registration for "Arena of Fate." Interestingly enough, the French and Italian variants of the domains were registered under the GFACE GmbH organisation, which operates the GFACE social games platform that Crytek's freemium games, such as the forthcoming Warface, are based on. Perhaps this could be Crytek's second entry into the free-to-play market?
I would posit that "Arena of Fate" is pertinent to the project being developed at Crytek's Sofia-based Black Sea studio. Since being acquired by Crytek nearly five years ago, there has been nearly complete silence about the activities of the studio, which previously developed the medieval RTS Knights of Honor and sci-fi RPG WorldShift. Last April, Crytek Black Sea studio head Vesselin Handjiev hinted on Black Sea's official forums that he "actually might have something to announce in the next couple of months" — a claim that never quite panned out.
A Crytek community manager confirmed last August that Crytek Black Sea was indeed working on an unannounced title. One November agency posting for a lead designer described Black Sea's project as an "Action MMO". Another lead designer posting through another agency asked for candidates with "A strong background in MMOs, Action/RPG games, MOBA games," and listed "[balancing] and [tuning] items, rewards, quests etc" among job responsibilities. "Arena of Fate" does very much sound like a potential title for a MOBA game, and the genre seems like a very natural fit for Crytek's next stab at the F2P model given current market trends.
Superannuation is a self-described "internet extraordinaire" residing somewhere in the Pacific timezone. He tweets and can be reached at heyheymayday AT gmail DOT com.
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