After carefully stalking it for years, Bethesda has finally pounced on Prey 2, instantly killing the never-released video game. Prey 2 was featured prominently in Bethesda’s presentations at the 2011 E3 trade show, and for a while it seemed like it would be a tentpole release for the publisher. But soon after that, Bethesda stopped talking about the project, a follow-up to the gravity-bending 2006 shooter Prey, saying only that the sequel had been delayed from its planned 2012 release date.
In the years since, it became widely assumed that the project—being developed by the studio Human Head—was dead. Yesterday marked the first time that Bethesda has confirmed its kill. In an interview with CNET, Bethesda vice president Pete Hines said that Prey 2 “was a game we believed in, but we never felt that it got to where it needed to be—we never saw a path to success if we finished it.” Turning the knife as Prey 2’s husk convulsed in death throes, Hines declared, “It wasn’t up to our quality standard, and we decided to cancel it.”
As Eurogamer notes—and as Bethesda’s weird hot-then-cold treatment of the game would indicate—the official “didn’t meet our quality standards” line doesn’t tell the whole story. Last year on Twitter, Jason Blair, a former narrative designer on Prey 2, denounced Bethesda’s handling of the development process, claiming that “Prey 2 was a full game” (not just a flashy demo, as was rumored) and “What happened to Prey 2, from where I sat, was political. And petty. And potentially litigable. Human Head had a great game.” Alas, even if Human Head did have a great game, it doesn’t anymore, as Prey 2 succumbs to the law of the video game jungle: Kill or be strangled slowly for years until you’re finally killed once everybody has stopped paying attention.