Sega’s cancelled Hyenas was reportedly its “biggest budget game ever”

A new report has alleged Hyenas may have been the biggest budget Sega title ever.
hyenas game sega creative assembly

Sega’s Hyenas, which was in development at Creative Assembly (Alien: Isolation) before being cancelled in September 2023, was reportedly the company’s “biggest budget game ever”, according to an anonymous developer speaking to content creator Volound in a new video posted to YouTube.

Hyenas: Inside Story of Creative Assembly’s $100M Failure features a complete breakdown of the game’s creation, with a multitude of developers speaking to Volound as part of the creator’s research.

In the video, anonymous staff have claimed the collapse of Hyenas came about from multiple fronts. A disruptive mid-development engine change is cited as a reason for the game’s downfall, as is a lack of direction, overly-cautious design, attempting to break into a saturated market, and leadership allegedly “asleep at the wheel”.

Read: Sega cancels Hyenas and other games, layoffs hit Creative Assembly

“In the early days, Hyenas aimed for a loveable rogues vibe,” one developer says in the video. “It sounded intriguing, but the details were vague.” Per claims shared by Volound, this direction was originally informed by the work of Hollywood director Neill Blomkamp – who is most known for post-apocalyptic sci-fi tales like Distrct 9 and Elysium.

Blomkamp was reportedly a fan of Alien: Isolation, and visited the studio to talk about this game and other projects, providing feedback on the direction of Hyenas. Sources speaking to Volound said that the director’s ideas forged the basis of Hyenas – notably, in the lore’s approach to physical media being super rare and coveted by thieves.

After Blomkamp’s input, the game allegedly had renewed direction – but stumbled again when its business model was analysed. Sega had allegedly planned the game as a premium title, but later transitioned it to a free-to-play model, to better compete in the modern games landscape. It’s believed to have been part of a Sega push for ‘Super Games‘ with larger, big-budget ambitions.

To that end, Volound claims that Hyenas was actually Sega’s “biggest budget game ever” – a claim which has reportedly been corroborated by VGC sources. It was such a big deal at the company that staff from Sega Japan were allegedly embedded within the Creative Assembly development team, taking a hands-on approach to guiding the game’s direction.

Despite this allegedly large investment, developers speaking to Volound believe that Sega would have lost more money if they hadn’t cancelled the game outright. These sources also lament that the cancellation of Hyenas has led to devastating layoffs at Creative Assembly.

“I’m angry with the shit leadership, and for the people above them for not dealing with them,” one developer says. “What I’m actually furious about is that the redundancies are affecting people who had nothing to do with Hyenas. Like IT, operations, marketing, HR, even some people over on [Total War], they bear no responsibility for this bin fire.”

You can watch Volound’s insightful breakdown of the Hyenas story on YouTube. Sega has yet to comment on the allegations contained within.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.