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System Shock 3 is No Longer in Nightdive Studios’ Hands

Looking forward to System Shock 3? We have some bad news for you.

And by “bad news”,  we mean that you shouldn’t count on seeing the game this year or even the next. In fact, it may never see the light of day at all. No, it’s not what System Shock fans wanted to hear – we’re big SHODAN-worshippers ourselves – but Nightdive Studios, the company that held the rights to System Shock 3 is no longer involved in the sci-fi horror sequel.

Nightdive Studios acquired the rights the System Shock franchise (the original System Shock and System Shock 2) and licensed System Shock 3’s IP to OtherSide Entertainment, with Deus Ex creator Warren Spector involved in its development. However, things didn’t go well and in 2020 Otherside stated, via Twitter, that the game was in hands of Chinese multimedia conglomerate Tencent.

However, less than half an hour after that, Nightdive Studios’ CEO Stephen Kick muddied the waters, Tweeting that “Nightdive owns the System Shock franchise and IP, please don’t spread misinformation.” Since then, Nightdive has continued to work on its System Shock remake, and remained relatively tight-lipped on the subject of System Shock 3

However, during the course of Gamescom, VGC were able to get clarification from Kick, who stated that:

“When we originally acquired the rights to the franchise, we licensed the rights for the third game to Warren and Paul [Neurath] at Otherside. They then subsequently sold their rights to Tencent.”

In other words, the rights, and final say on whether or not to make a System Shock 3, rests with Tencent. Yes, there is a System Shock 3 trailer, which has rogue AI Shodan taking over a megacorporation’s blacksite, but Tencent will likely be starting from scratch.

Could they already have started development? It’s possible, but given how heavily-anticipated this title is, and that Tencent acquire the rights in 2020, we’d have expected to have seen something of the game, even another teaser, by now. It’s not unheard of for companies to hoard IPs and do very little with them so, while we’re hoping this isn’t the situation, System Shock 3 could forever languish in development hell.

What’s curious about the situation is how Otherside were able to sell System Shock 3’s rights. Kick states the company “licensed the rights”, but licensing tends to mean you’re granting a third party limited use of a property, while still retaining control of the rights.

Regardless, Nightdive Studios is still beavering away on its remake of the original System Shock which still looks pretty great. It’s got no release date as yet but we’re looking forwards to plunging back into SHODAN’s sinister sci-fi world.

And then? Roll on a remake of System Shock 2.

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