An up-and-coming UK based studio by the name of Automaton Games has officially canceled its upcoming much anticipated battle royale game, Mavericks: Proving Grounds, due to “insufficient funding.”
The company announced on its website that it has now entered administration. What exactly does that mean? Well, entering administration is a procedure similar to declaring bankruptcy that enables insolvent companies to temporarily continue operating under the guidance of court-appointed administrators. Automaton’s affairs were put under the control of administrators Paul Cooper and Paul Appleton on July 30.
As part of the announcement, Automaton revealed that “the development of the Mavericks: Proving Grounds game has now ceased.” Mavericks was first revealed in 2017 as “Project X.” It was originally intended to be a 1000-player PvP game that would “combine the scale and economy of an MMO, the progression and customisation of an RPG, and the tactical skill required of an FPS.” Mavericks was going to run on Improbable’s SpatialOS, making it the second major SpatialOS project to be canceled this year. In May, Bossa Studios shut down the MMO sandbox Worlds Adrift after just a year, claiming it was no longer commercially viable to be used in gameplay.
Back in June last year, Eurogamer took a look at some of the gameplay for Mavericks, which at that point closely resembled the likes of PUBG and interested long-term players of the game. Aside from the enormous player numbers and size, the game promised a large player hub with vendors, a dynamic weather system, environmental destruction and player tracking.
“Paul Cooper and Paul Appleton were appointed joint administrators of Automaton Games Limited on 30th July 2019,” reads a message at the Automaton website. “They are managing the affairs, business and property of the company. The joint administrators act as agents of the company and act without personal liability. … Please be advised that due to insufficient funding, the development of the Mavericks: Proving Grounds game has now ceased.”
This is now the second game using SpatialOS to be cancelled this year, as Worlds Adrift by Bossa Studios bit the dust back in May. Created by Improbable, SpatialOS is a cloud platform that allows a single game world to be split across multiple dedicated servers at once, thus allowing for larger map size, player counts and more complex features.
The cancellation comes as a huge surprise for interested gamers who were holding out for the games anticipated release since 2017. Automaton released a new patch and began a new alpha testing session less than a week prior to the announcement and while there’s no direct connection between the two, Mavericks isn’t the first SpatialOS-powered MMO to shut down.
Although the stated goal was to have 1000-player matches, Automaton brought that down to a more reasonable 400 players on a 12km x 12km map. We played it over a year ago, but that was more of a tech demo than a functioning game. Still, Proving Grounds’ featured a number of more interesting elements such as tracking players through clues they leave behind. More broadly, Mavericks’ cancellation doesn’t bode well for SpatialOS, the cloud-based tool the game was built around. Much of Mavericks’ scale was touted as one benefit of SpatialOS’ tech, and it was seen as the poster project for the fledgling tech.
The news might not be all bad for Automaton. Its second game, Deceit, which is already out on Steam, will not have its live services interrupted. The game will be licensed out by the joint administrators.