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Tribes 3: Rivals already in trouble as developers shift focus elsewhere

"Neither game had enough success yet to support the studio"

Viewing a 12v12 map from the air in Tribes 3: Rivals.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Prophecy Games

Development on slip-slidey FPS Tribes 3: Rivals is set to slow, just months after its early access launch, as developers Prophecy Games say it’s not proving successful enough to "support the studio."

In a post ominously titled "Tribes 3 Player Update", Prophecy first announced that anyone who’d paid up microtransaction money in Rivals – as well as their previous game, extraction shooter Starsiege: Deadzone – would receive an equal amount of credit to spend in their upcoming "sports shooter" Ultra Strikers. Then, the bitter chaser: both Deadzone and Tribes 3 will go on the backburner, while Ultra Strikers becomes the studio’s main effort.

"These credits are meant to give back to players who supported us in early development", the post reads. "We’re doing our best to support Tribes 3 with limited updates (along with an upcoming discount sale to bring in more players), and plan to return to Starsiege Deadzone once the company has the resources, but unfortunately neither game had enough success yet to support the studio and can’t be our main development focus right now (as much as we love them).

"Thank you for your support. Going forward, we’ll continue to focus on updating existing games as much as we can, while creating new games players enjoy. We love making games, we love playing games, and thanks again for giving our games a shot and being part of the community!"

It's true that Tribes 3 didn’t launch into the same cult hit status as previous Tribeseses – according to SteamDB, its daily playercount dropped into the low hundreds within days of its early access release back in March. But it’s hard to see a way forward now that its remaining players can only expect small, sporadic updates at best.

Approaching a well-defended enemy base in Tribes 3: Rivals.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Prophecy Games

I don’t mind admitting: this one stings, friends. Tribes 3 might have launched without much meat on the bones, with the combined-arms bombast of Tribes: Ascend looking a long way off, but I could see and feel it improving with several of its earlier patches. Especially the updates to the series’ signature skiing movement, which did eventually deliver the sense of breakneck pace I was hoping for. Unfortunately, the game’s chances of riding that momentum into a new era of movement shooteriness seem slimmer than ever.

For many, that may not be a surprising outcome: certain sections of the Tribes fandom are famously suspicious of attempts to make a new version of the thing they like. In hindsight, maybe I too should have hardened my heart, given Ascend’s grim fate. But then isn’t there another way of looking at this? I waited a decade for more Tribes, and even if it wasn’t finished, and even if it was for only for a matter of weeks, I had it. Sometimes, letting yourself be hurt again isn’t an entirely bad thing.

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