Its devs, at least those who weren't fired, will be reassigned to other Blizzard projects.
Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment
Following the announcement about Microsoft laying off nearly 2,000 employees from its gaming division, it was also officially revealed that the development of Blizzard's survival game, codenamed Odyssey, will be discontinued.
As stated by Microsoft's Game Content and Studios President Matt Booty in an internal demo, the layoffs affected multiple teams at Blizzard, encompassing developers, shared service organizations, and corporate functions. Consequently, in an effort to focus more on the products and strategies Microsoft deems to be the most promising, the company has decided to cancel Odyssey, reassigning its developers, at least those who weren't fired, to other Blizzard projects.
"The changes announced today reflect a focus on products and strategies that hold the most promise for Blizzard's future growth, as well as identified areas of overlap across Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming," Booty wrote. "Today's actions affect multiple teams within Blizzard, including development teams, shared service organizations, and corporate functions. As part of this focus, Blizzard is ending development on its survival game project and will be shifting some of the people working on it to one of several promising new projects Blizzard has in the early stages of development."
Shortly after Booty's memo went public, Bloomberg's Jason Schreier provided some insights on Odyssey, revealing that the game has been in development for more than six years, starting as a pitch from Blizzard veteran Craig Amai. Schreier detailed that Odyssey was initially conceived as a survival game, similar to titles like Minecraft and Rust, but more polished and with fewer bugs.
Citing "people familiar with the process", Schreier also disclosed that Odyssey faced significant challenges, primarily related to technical issues surrounding the engine. Although the game was originally prototyped on Unreal Engine, Blizzard executives decided to make a switch to Synapse, an internal engine initially designed for mobile games, because Unreal wouldn't support vast maps with up to 100 players at once, a switch that eventually led to significant problems.
Moreover, Schreier's report unveiled that despite the encountered challenges, Odyssey seemed to be progressing, with the team even planning to expand in order to target a game release by 2026 at the earliest. However, the project was ultimately canceled due to the layoffs, coupled with the company's conclusion that "Synapse was not ready for production."