- The latest misfortune in the Deus Ex journal is the cancellation of a new game by the Embracer group.
- Over the years, the series has seen many crises including canceled titles and management shifts.
- Deus Ex is a brilliant series and the last thing it deserves is being abandoned and forgotten.
Let me ask you a question. What would be your reaction if you learned that your favorite game series has gone through hell only to be abandoned? You come across a great series with 2-3 entries, and you fall in love with it over the course of going through the games. Then, when you realize its dreadful fate, what will overcome you? Frustration? Rage? Disappointment? I think it’ll be all of these; it sure was for me.
You must be wondering, what series am I talking about? It’s none other than Deus Ex, one of my most beloved IPs being dragged through the mud. Video games have come a long way and thus have accumulated a vibrant history. However, this period is filled with many such victims who were denied the chance to conclude the brilliant story they wished to tell. Deus Ex might be one of those, too, something it in no way deserves.
NEWS: Embracer Group has canceled a Deus Ex video game that was in development for ~2 years and laid off an unspecified number of staff at Eidos Montreal: https://t.co/VU7bmdMULI
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) January 29, 2024
It All Started At Ion Storm, The Magnificient Deus Ex
Deus Ex is an IP that changed hands multiple times, and every time it did, I feared for the worst. A change of development team and ownership always brings an enormous chance of the new management messing things up, and Deus Ex was too good of a series to be messed up. Still, the worst has come to pass finally: abandonment. But before that, I wish to tell you this tale of a brilliant gem, so let’s go back to the start.
It all started when Warren Spector had an idea regarding a sci-fi game nothing like what was the norm, something that is immersive in the truest sense. Since this was a sort of unconventional idea, it was rejected. However, Ion Storm, and Eidos subsidiary, saw potential in it and gave Warren the freedom he wanted to create a fascinating project. And that he did when Deus Ex came out. It was a superb adventure and is one of the best games of all time for me.
I won’t spoil the story, so let me say just this. It’s set in a dystopian, cyberpunk future with conspiracies afoot, forces butting heads for control of the world, and a lot of real-life philosophies and concepts mixed in to create a thought-provoking tale. What made it so revolutionary is how it featured a sense of freedom in its design during a time when scripted design was prevalent. You could experience every possibility and bear its consequences, it was brilliant.
Eidos Helmed The Adam Jensen Saga When Square Enix Took Control
The second entry, Invisible War, was, less than ideal let’s say. Warren himself went to a supervisor role for this one, and although the themes and concepts were present, their execution and the technical massacre of the gameplay and sound design created the weakest entry of the series. Warren departed Ion Storm after this one, and though Eidos Interactive planned a sequel, it was never realized as a financial crisis hit the company hard and Ion Storm was closed.
This was the point where the first “change” occurred. Square Enix acquired Eidos Interactive and thus the rights to Deus Ex IP. I honestly thought the series was over at this point. First, the creator left, and then the management changed, it was all worrisome signs. However, Eidos still had control over the games and Human Revolution turned out to be one of, if not the best entries. Honestly, it’s on par with the first one for me.
Featuring a new protagonist, Adam Jensen, Deus Ex was back with a bang and was everything the series was. Freedom of approach and creative mechanics? check. Real-world analogies and conspiracy theories? present. Plus, modern visuals and mechanical finesse made it exceptional. The sequel, Mankind Divided, was a little weaker, but introduced strong themes of discrimination and touched poor societal norms. It was filled with dedication and I loved it the same.
Did Deus Ex Mean Nothing To Square Enix? I’ll Never Know
You and I might think Mankind Divided was a solid game, but did Square Enix think the same? The last Deus Ex game was released to a somewhat lukewarm reception. At that time, it was rumored that there was a next game planned, but Square Enix put it on hold because of this reception. These rumors were denied later, as supposedly Eidos was busy with other projects like Shadow of The Tomb Raider and couldn’t work on a new Deus Ex.
Still, the fact remains Square Enix never even touched Deus Ex for six years, for whatever reasons. And then in 2022, Eidos Interactive in its entirety was sold off by the company to Embracer Group. This also meant it let go of the rights to franchises like Deus Ex and Tomb Raider. I’ll be honest with you, first the 6 years of neglect and then the eventual selling, I can’t help but think that Square Enix indeed didn’t like Mankind Divided’s reception.
If the tech giant cared about the IP itself and not the profit, I don’t think it would’ve let go of it. As I’ve mentioned before, I feel like it was Eidos who had a passion for Deus Ex right from the start. It was great under its management, and even when the ownership changed, Eidos crafted a brilliant adventure that was honestly easier said than done. And Square Enix left it all too easily. I may never know the truth, but this is what I feel about all this.
Embracer Is Going Down And Is Taking This Gem With It
Back when Embracer acquired Eidos, I had some doubts. Majorly because Embracer was going on a ceaseless buying spree back then. Still, I decided to give the new management a try, since I was skeptical before too yet Human Revolution turned out splendidly. However, that wishful thinking slowly started fading away as the flaws of the Embracer group’s poor strategy soon started becoming very apparent, and it was not looking good.
I’ve said this before in excessive detail, and I’ll say this again, Embracer brought all this on itself. There’s no way spending this much on acquisition without having any solid projects or something consistent to fall back on would turn out beneficial. Embracer didn’t give it enough thought, and allegedly many bad decisions were involved that led to its present state. Now it’s going through a very critical phase as a financial crisis has hit it hard.
Embracer Group was forced to consider cost-cutting strategies that involved selling assets and mass layoffs, and honestly, I and many others saw it coming from a mile away. But you know what’s even more heartbreaking? Embracer Group has supposedly canceled a new Deus Ex game well into development for two years now, and to sort of confirm this, Eidos has been hit with many layoffs. Safe to say Deus Ex is as good as abandoned now.
— Eidos-Montréal (@EidosMontreal) January 29, 2024
Hasn’t Deus Ex Suffered Enough Now? Give It A Break
I’ll just go ahead and say this, neither Square Enix nor Embracer Group deserved Deus Ex. They never cared about it enough to at least give it another chance before completely writing it off. Eidos cared about and poured it with dedication and care, but there’s nothing you can do if the management cannot be swayed. And this is too good of a series to just close the curtains on. It was Embracer’s mess, Deus Ex doesn’t have to suffer.
The only viable thing to do now is for Embracer Group to let go of it, and give it to someone who genuinely cares about it and can make another great project out of it. Of course, the best outcome would be Eidos Interactive itself getting it. Just like IO Interactive freed itself, Eidos could free the IP, but I don’t think that’s very likely to happen. Still, the point remains Embracer doesn’t care about it, someone who does should get it.
Do you know what would be a great place for Deus Ex? Arkane. Dishonored was in part inspired by Deus Ex, and we know how much of a gem that is. Precisely why I have such high hopes for the new Blade game. And I don’t think it would do wrong with a Deus Ex game. Besides, the lead designer of the very first game is there, things couldn’t get worse than they are right now. I just hope after many allegedly canceled projects, Deus Ex gets some respite and closure.
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