It appears that the development of sci-fi shooter Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was rockier than it appeared to be. Developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Final Fantasy hitmaker Square Enix, it is one of our favourite games of the year.
Citing a developer who worked on the game at Square Enix-owned Eidos Montreal, industry journalist and YouTuber Jim Sterling explained some of the games stranger design choices. One of these include its microtransactions. The decision to include in-game purchases such as Praxis kits and credits (to buy items in Mankind Divided) were made two weeks prior to submitting the game for approval. Eidos Montreal did not plan for microtransactions and had to add them as per Square Enix's demands at the last moment. These went live the moment the game was available for sale, after reviews were published. Neither reviewers (including Gadgets 360) nor consumers were not made aware of these elements before release. It's one of the reasons why the game is reviewing poorly with users on Steam.
In addition to this, Sterling's source sheds light on the game's almost Big Brother-like tracking mechanism. Almost everything you do is sent to the company's servers.
"Mankind Divided is designed to track your every move if your console or PC is online. Every time you shoot, every item you pick up, your dialogue choices, your system settings, even every time you jump, it’s all sent back to Square Enix servers for analysis," says Sterling.
If this wasn't enough, despite having an obscene CAD 70 million budget (around Rs. 360 crores) and a five and half year development cycle, there was no internal beta with the developer stating that the publisher was not interested in games. Nonetheless, Mankind Divided has a lofty sales goal of three million units.
“As for Mankind Divided, cross your fingers that it sells over three million, that’s the minimum it needs to break even," remarked Sterling.
Attrition at the studio was high as well, he states. Despite high costs, Eidos Montreal's interns are the lowest paid in the city, with Sterling claiming the majority of the expenses put towards poor marketing stunts and unnecessary game modes such as Breach - the game's arcade-styled time trial. It was shoehorned in at the behest of Square Enix.
“It [Breach Mode] was included for the fear of the main campaign getting too stale for players," said Sterling.
In a previous episode, Sterling stated that Mankind Divided would be the first of trilogy. Internally it had the codename DXNG (short for Deus Ex Next Gen). One team was working on DXNG while another team was simultaneously working on DXNG2 since 2015. However to meet the game's intended February 2016 release, a large chunk of staff was moved over to Mankind Divided. The game was finally made available on August 23 this year.
This report from Sterling highlights some of the many managerial reasons why most games don't quite turn out as well as they were intended. You can check out the full video below: