All is most definitely not well with Prey 2, the open world sequel to one of 2006's quirkier first-person shooters. The game was rumoured to be cancelled this March, and anonymous sources claim that Bethesda and developer Human Head have had a fairly thermonuclear falling-out. In April, the publisher announced that Prey 2 would miss its 2012 launch due to a failure to meet "quality standards". Since then, Human Head designer Nathan Cheever has taken to Twitter and Facebook to protest about the game's non-appearance.
"Bethesda's captain of that ship, so I can't officially speak for it," Cheever remarked on 6th December when a follower asked whether the game was still in "active development". He added: "I'm not implying anything, only that BSW owns the rights and are the only ones that can legally say anything about P2's status."
When another fan suggested that Prey 2 had seemed "pretty complete" at E3 2011, Cheever responded enthusiastically: "I agree! It'd be great to get some good news soon :)"
As reported by Videogamer, Cheever has tweeted about his frustration repeatedly over the past few months, observing that it would be "crazy" not to release the game. "It's up to Bethesda to decide what to do with it," he explained to followers. "The best you can do is ask them what they're thinking, like [Bethesda's vice-president of marketing] Peter Hines."
Besides the rumours about contractual disagreements, it's been suggested that Bethesda delayed Prey 2 to avoid a clash with Arkane's Dishonored, also a non-linear sci-fantasy experience featuring an athletic, stealthy protagonist who wields a range of weapons and powers. Here's Cheever on the subject: "Which one was announced first, closer to being released, and therefore more ahead of the curve? #eggorthechicken".
Others suspect that the game will now appear on next generation consoles. Again, Cheever's distinctly unimpressed. "Next Gen would always provide more mileage," he tweeted in November, "But it's not necessary since it was designed to for this gen."
With Prey 2 "in limbo", Human Head has busied itself with a number of free-to-play and iOS projects, including the recently released Fort Courage. It has also announced vacancies for work on what appears to be a separate AAA console project - the job listings in question cite "experience with open world and third-person games" and "experience crafting stories in the mystery genre" as helpful accomplishments. Senior programmer Ben Geisler may be one of the successful applicants - he took up the role this month, and mentions an "undisclosed AAA project" on his LinkedIn profile.
Possibly the most revealing newsbits come via the Prey 2 Facebook page, where Cheever has encouraged users to "wake Bethesda from their slumber".
"It's really great to hear people are still interest [sic] in Prey 2! With a lot of talent and determination, the team at Human Head created an exciting and vibrant game experience for you," he wrote in one, rather poignant message from 9th October.
"If you want to know about the status of the game, find other ways to contact Bethesda more directly. My impression is they don't read this Facebook page as much as they use to, since your sincere interest has gone unanswered over the past year."
There's also the below image, posted by a Prey 2 fan and circulated by Cheever on his Twitter.
Good luck, ladies and gentlemen.
UPDATE: Nathan has released a statement on aspects of our story - read it over at VG247.