BioWare Austin’s Shadow Realms has been cancelled, studio GM Jeff Hickman has revealed.
A five player asymmetrical multiplayer game, Shadow Realms was announced at GamesCom last year where it immediately entered closed alpha and was made available to the show’s attendees.
The game featured five players – four heroes facing off against a Shadowlord in a modern day fantasy setting, and was said to be inspired by pen and paper RPGs. The goal of the game was to allow players to create their own organic narratives through the gameplay, a stark contrast to BioWare’s typical M.O. of crafting strong narrative-driven RPGs.
In a blog post on the game’s official site, Hickman explained that the studio’s attention is needed elsewhere.
"While the team did amazing work on the game concept and we got lots of great feedback from our fans at events and through other game testing, right now there are other projects for the team to work on within the BioWare studios for the coming year and beyond," he said.
"We’ve got an incredibly talented team here at the Austin studio, and they are excited and already deep on new projects within the BioWare family, ones that will make some great BioWare games even better.
"But the biggest focus for our team in BioWare Austin will be on Star Wars: The Old Republic. As every Star Wars fan knows, this is a massive year in the Star Wars universe. We have some great plans for expanding this epic game this year, and look forward to sharing the news about those plans with our players in the coming weeks."
While some are speculating that the release of a similar asymmetrical multiplayer game, Evolve – which also featured 4v1 online combat – might have discouraged BioWare Austin, it seems far more likely that Disney is putting pressure on EA to maintain its Star Wars IP. Star Wars: The Old Republic went free-to-play less than 12 months after it launched and it has struggled to find a significant player base ever since, undergoing several server merges since.
Update: An EA spokesperson has told Develop: "We won’t be making any further comment."