"Chaotic." That's how Turtle Rock Studios president Steve Goldstein described the 14 months between its last AAA game, Evolve, being effectively killed and now. The four-hunter-versus-one-gigantic-monster online multiplayer game struggled to retain players after it was released for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in early 2015.
Last June, Evolve transitioned from a $60 game to a free-to-play one. As a result, it went from roughly 100 players per month to more than 15,000. You'd think that would have been enough to keep the lights on, but you'd be wrong. Four months later, publisher 2K Games pulled the plug, saying that while the servers would remain online for the foreseeable future, the game wouldn't be getting any more updates.
"It was absolutely looking bleak, but sadly that's not unusual in our space," Goldstein said. "Everyone who works here knows that they are taking a risk, right? That's not a problem unique to us."
If all you've paid attention to are headlines on gaming and tech news sites, you'd think that Turtle Rock has been on the ropes ever since. But in the last year or so, thanks to Oculus' aggressive investments in virtual reality games and other experiences, Turtle Rock has been quietly building a mobile VR safety net in case its next $100 million project goes the way of Evolve.