Which "underperforming" game development project is Keywords keen to get away from?

Which "underperforming" game development project is Keywords keen to get away from?

A game being worked on by a Keywords-owned development studio that is running into trouble.

In the company's financial report for the six months ending June 30th, 2019, the company says there is an unnamed project that was in the works before Keywords bought the company. Both the studio and the game are left unnamed, with Keywords looking to leave the contract by the end of this year. 

Speaking to investors, CEO Andrew Day said that said project is behind in terms of cost, going on to say that this is a lesson for how Keywords does due diligence of companies it's looking to acquire.

"We could have done a better job of scoping it and pricing it correctly. So, this is sort of on us particularly, I would say. It's not an issue of quality or capability and it's not a project that's leading to any sort of acrimonious behaviour between us and client," he said.

"We fully accept that we took the project on and we need to deliver and we are making very good progress. So the resources that have been committed to that project are starting to ramp up as we get closer to the end of the project, and they are obviously being reassigned to normal profitable level contract work. So the effect of that is starting to unwind.

"Yes, due diligence, I mean, this is a project that was signed fairly soon before the sale of the business. And for the development company itself, it takes a lot of time and effort and resource to fully scope out a project. For us, to be able to do that during due diligence may be hard to expect but obviously, we know there's risk in fixed-price contracts. We try and avoid them. Perhaps seeing this one in the mix, we should have perhaps spent a bit more time looking at that."

As for what the studio and the game is, recent development acquisitions by Keywords include Japan's Wizcorp, Brighton-based Studio Gobo and Electric Square, d3t which is based in Liverpool and Manchester, and Sperasoft, which has offices in St Petersburg and Volgograd in Russia, Poland's Krakow and Santa Clara, California

Of those developers, we know that Studio Gobo is currently co-developing Synced: Off Planet for Tencent Games alongside Next Games, while Sperasoft is supporting 343 Industries for forthcoming Project Scarlett title Halo Infinite. 

Wizcorp develops games for other companies, including Square Enix and Bandai Namco, but we don't know any projects that it currently has in the works. The same applies to d3t, who recently updated cult classic Shenmue games.  

Given that Halo Infinite is set to launch in 2020, that's a possible candidate. The fact it's a next-gen title will likely complicate development, too. There's no release date yet for Tencent's Synced: Off Planet yet but it's possible it will be out next year, also. 

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.