After an uncertain period in which it seemed System Shock 3 might be dead in the spacewater, it’s apparently now saved. Developers OtherSide Entertainment have announced that megahuge publishers Tencent “will be taking the System Shock franchise forward,” which is… vague and slightly ominous, but promising? It’s not yet clear what exactly this arrangement means and who’s doing what, but it seems the odds are good that yes, you will again get to enjoy Shodan berating you for the weakness and imperfection of your flesh.
“We are happy to announce that Tencent will be taking the System Shock franchise forward,” OtherSide said in yesterday’s statement. “As a smaller indie studio, it had been challenging for us to carry the project on our own. We believe Tencent’s deep capabilities and expertise as a leading game company will bring the franchise to new heights.”
Which doesn’t really explain who is now making System Shock 3. Ah, we’ll hear more in time.
The game’s fate had been in question for several months, following reports that the dev team had lost a fair few folks, including the former writer, lead programmer, and design director. The circumstances of all that were unclear, and OtherSide did not respond when I asked at the time.
So, here’s another digipie Tencent have their finger in. They are vast, owning bits and pieces of so many developers as well as making and publishing their own games. They fully own Riot Games and Funcom, have most of Path Of Exile devs Grinding Gear Games, bought 40% of Epic Games, and hold smaller shares of companies from Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft to Paradox Interactive and PlatinumGames. They definitely have the resources to make a new System Shock.
Nightdive Studios, who own the System Shock rights and are currently remaking the first game, have clarified a bit of the Shock legal background. “OtherSide licensed certain rights from us to make sequels. Those rights have now been transferred to Tencent,” OtherSide told cheery RPS fanzine PC Gamer. “Nothing about that transfer in any way impacts our ownership.”
It is still a bit weird that SS3 is being made. I do somewhat agree with old man Kieron Gillen, who wrote in a 2009 tribute to Shodan, “There’s never going to be a System Shock 3. We really should be glad.” Maybe we should let sleeping AIs lie. We have declared System Shock 2 one of the best RPGs but maybe that’s good reason to leave it be. Oh dear, I’ve taken a melancholy turn.
The last we saw of System Shock 3 was this in September 2019: