Sega cancels loot shooter Hyenas, layoffs expected at Creative Assembly

In a shock move, Sega has canceled Hyenas, an extraction shooter from Total War developer Creative Assembly that was thought to be in the final stages of development.

Hyenas challenged teams of players with stealing “priceless” pop-culture knick-knacks like Sonic the Hedgehog figurines from rich Mars colonists in a dystopian future. The game had been demoed to press and the public at Gamescom in August, and had only just concluded a closed beta test on Sept. 11.

In its statement announcing the cancellation, Sega blamed the economic downturn in Europe and lowered profitability in its European business. The company said it would “implement reduction of various fixed expenses” (corporate-speak for layoffs) at Creative Assembly, which is based in the U.K., and other European subsidiaries.

The fear is that these job cuts could be quite deep. IGN reports that Creative Assembly staff were only told of the cancellation of Hyenas on Thursday morning, simultaneously with Sega’s announcement, and that they are pessimistic about the outlook.

“A source close to Creative Assembly told IGN the entire Hyenas studio now faces redundancy, but staff expect massive cuts across the company,” IGN reported. “The cancellation of Hyenas so close to release came as a surprise to staff, IGN was told, although internally there was concern that the game would fail to do well.”

Prior to its Gamescom showing, Sega had expressed some misgivings about Hyenas. In August, the company told investors the game was a “challenging title,” that Sega was “striving to improve its quality,” and that it was making “final adjustments to its business model” — which many understood to mean a shift to free-to-play, something Creative Assembly had initially ruled out.

Hyenas isn’t the only game in development affected by Sega’s “structural reforms.” The company, which said it expects to make a loss in its current fiscal year, is also canceling some other, unannounced titles in development in Europe. “We will continue to consider measures to improve profitability in European bases apart from above,” Sega said, ominously. Other European studios owned by Sega include Endless Space developer Amplitude, management game specialist Two Point Studios, and Football Manager developer Sports Interactive.