Despite being a medium-spanning genre, sci-fi has easily found a comfortable place as a video game staple. Within this genre, it’s hard to deny that CCP Games has carved out their niche as one the the most well-known sci-fi developers of recent years. With the surprise announcement of their most recent title - Project Legion - CCP has attracted the ire of a great deal of their biggest supporters though.
Announced as a free-to-play FPS spinoff of their acclaimed MMO EVE Online, this new title bears a striking resemblance to one of the developer’s past visions. Released last year as a PS3 exclusive, DUST 514 was CCP’s attempt at bridging the gap between an MMO and a first-person shooter, though by alienating its PC fan base. Sadly, the game did not find the success that CCP had anticipated despite cultivating a number of loyal supporters. This has led many to view Project Legion as an abandonment of the year-old title.
Polygon spoke to Sean Decker – CCP Games’ VP of Product Development – at EVE Fanfest in Reykjavík about Project Legion and its relation to DUST 514. While it may seem as though CCP is hastily casting aside their past FPS offering for a PC upgrade, it’s also no secret that the title’s reception was less than positive. This fan reaction plays a key role in how CCP Games decides to move forward with their properties as Decker illustrates.
“Put it out in front of them, see if they like it. [EVE: Valkyrie] was a perfect example of that. Legion will or will not be an example of that, we’ll see, and if Legion does well, great, we’ll continue to invest in it. If it doesn’t, we’ll open up some beers, have some fun and say, ‘Ok, that was fun, let’s do something different now and go again.’”
From a business standpoint, it makes perfect sense to accept the shortcomings of a product that did not live up to expectations. For fans of the title though, moving on so soon and to a new platform – PC, no less – has been seen as a slight against the PS3 community. Decker instead sees this as an opportunity to refine something that did not work out as they had hoped.
“At the end of the day we want to take the things we’ve learned from DUST, and yes it’s in the same IP, same place and all the rest of it, but we want to do some fundamentally different things with it that we feel we missed out on and that we didn’t do right… And honestly, we didn’t make a great game to begin with. It has to be a great game.”
While there’s little doubt that fan frustration is warranted at the quick turnaround between DUST‘s release and the announcement of Project Legion, it’s hard to fault CCP Games for attempting to improve on their past shortcomings. It’s even understandable that the move from PS3 to PC could come as a slap in the face to console gamers who welcomed the title but if EVE: Valkyrie is any indication with its Project Morpheus support, gamers could very well end up seeing Project Legion on the PS4 in due time. Our own editor-in-chief spoke with CCP reps at last year’s E3 who spoke fondly of Sony and the PS4 and their future endeavors together, so we came out of that meeting believing all of CCP Game’s titles could one day be on the latest PlayStation home console.
As for DUST 514 and CCP Games seemingly abandoning it – they’ll keep supporting the title so long as there are players playing it.
“I mean, in terms of three years from now, if there are tons of people playing it, and people are really enjoying it, we’ll keep doing it. And if people are like, ‘you know what, thanks for all the fish and we’ve moved,’ then we won’t. It’s as simple as that, and I think it’s true for any game service.”
Negativity aside though, it’s an exciting time for CCP Games right now. Not only is EVE: Valkyrie looking gorgeous in its most recent screenshots, but the fact that they have nailed down the voice-work of Battlestar Galactica alumni Katee Sackhoff is sure to lend the title even more sci-fi credibility. Between dogfighting, first-person shooters and a still-growing MMO, CCP Games has established itself as a forefront voice in sci-fi gaming.
Do you think that CCP should have held back Project Legion for a few years, if only to reduce the amount of fan outcry? What improvements would best help it to step out of DUST 514‘s shadow?
Follow Ryan on Twitter @ThatRyanB.