There has been little talk of the next official Tribes game outside a handful of Tribes-related Discord servers. This is likely because the developers, Prophecy Games, have been very tight-lipped on the project since its initial tease in May of this year. While a new Tribes game in 2024 sounds like a pretty amazing thing to even happen, I can’t say my hopes are very high considering the developer’s track record.
To give a bit of background on Prophecy Games, the group was originally formed in 2019 as an internal studio at Hi-Rez Studios, who of course own the Tribes IP. They became their own independent studio in 2020, led by Hi-Rez’s founder and chairman Erez Goren. In May of that same year, they started Early Access for their first game titled ‘Prophecy’, an auto-chess spinoff of SMITE.
On June 3rd of 2020, Prophecy was officially released on Steam. Despite having a Very Positive rating from 415 reviewers, less than a month later on June 29th Prophecy Games announced that they would be shutting down the servers due to not meeting their “goals for player retention.”
After the Prophecy game servers were turned off on July 2nd, the company went silent until February 2021, announcing that they were hiring for a Senior Technical Artist, however, no new projects were announced. In July of 2022 they again announced that they were hiring, this time asking for artists, programmers, and designers. Two months later in September, Erez Goren announced the studios next project – Starsiege: Raiders, a “looter-shooter set in the Tribes universe, combing custom load-outs, extraction-based gameplay and procedurally-generated planets that make each raid different.”
Both Tribes and Starsiege fans were a bit perplexed as to what exactly Raiders was supposed to be and how it tied into the franchise. Starsiege fans were looking for mechs, while Tribes fans were looking for skiing and capturing flags. Raiders featured nothing of the sort other than a sliding mechanic that could be somewhat compared to skiing (but not really), while also borrowing a number of weapon and armor assets from Tribes: Ascend.
Raiders made its official debut at TwitchCon in early October 2022, with a handful of people streaming it. Alpha signups started the following month in November, and Prophecy continued to hand out keys throughout the next couple of months. However, things were soon about to take an unexpected turn. From the beginning, the PlayRAIDERS Twitter was quite active, sharing screenshots, video clips, alpha key announcements, etc. Then in mid-February of this year, it just…stopped. The last tweet was on February 16th, sharing a short video clip of the game.
In March the official website started redirecting visitors to playdeadzone.com, advertising a new game called Starsiege: Deadzone described as a “corridor extraction shooter. The combat is difficult and unforgiving. You will ally with other Raiders, explore dangerous space stations for valuable resources, and attempt to escape alive.” After 4-5 months of closed Early Access testing and no real marketing to speak of, Starsiege: Raiders was suddenly no longer in development or playable. As far as I’m aware no official announcement or warning was made to those who were actively playing the game.
So, out went Raiders and in came Deadzone. The closed beta for Deadzone kicked off in May of 2023, and with it came a shocker. The menu screen showed the following game modes:
Not only did this menu screen hint that Raiders wasn’t completely dead, but more importantly a new Tribes game was in development. A few weeks later on May 16th, the developers revealed their plans for the project during a YouTube Q&A (note: the original video is no longer on YouTube). The relevant information they revealed:
- The upcoming ‘Starsiege Tribes’ isn’t a re-release of the original on Steam. It’s going to be another game mode within the main game, along with Raiders. All 3 games will have the same weapons and armor systems, with some modifiers to make them more unique.
- Light, Medium, and Heavy armors will be present. They will have their own weapons/abilities which can be configured. There will be seasons where perks/abilities will be rotated. This wasn’t stated specifically for Tribes, but can be assumed all 3 games will follow suit.
- Progression and match-making will also likely be present. Raiders and Deadzone currently take place before Tribes, lore-wise.
At least, that was the original plan. After this Q&A, Prophecy focused their efforts on updating Deadzone based on player feedback, and initially things were actually going okay. It was by far their most played game to date, garnering attention from Dark and Darker fans, along with a number of Escape from Tarkov and other extraction shooter fans. It saw decent growth throughout the summer, peaking at just over 5,000 players on Steam. It seemed as though they might’ve finally had a game that could meet their “player retention goals”. As long as nothing catastrophic happened, the game could end up being a small, but hopefully profitable project for the team.
Well, something catastrophic did indeed happen.
Prophecy Games’ handling of the Early Access was frustrating to say the least. Every time they started working on a new patch, they would take down the servers until the next one was released, leaving players wondering when they’d get a chance to play again for days or even weeks at a time. They also started wiping player progression on a somewhat regular basis, forcing players to question if it was worth sticking around when they’d just lose everything they worked for whenever a new patch was released.
Furthermore, they were changing the game into something the players simply didn’t want. What started out as an extraction shooter eventually turned more into a battle royale-type game, which was vastly different compared to when the game was at its peak player count. It was as though the developers couldn’t decide on what to do with the game or what made the players happy just a few short months prior, nor could they focus on fixing glaring balance issues with the A.I. and weapons.
As of writing, the last patch was released on September 28th. The game has 2,379 Mixed reviews on Steam, with 50 Recent Reviews being Mostly Negative and the Steam discussion board reflecting that. If I were a betting man, I’d wager this game has joined the graveyard alongside Prophecy and Raiders.
And what of the Tribes project? Well, that’s currently in development as we speak. A number of Tribes players have already been invited to the playtests, and the developers have reached out to players asking for their input.
Based on Prophecy Games’ previous endeavors, you’ll have to excuse me if I’m not exactly jumping for joy that they’re working on a Tribes project. None of their games seem to leave Early Access and are killed off within 4-5 months if they don’t become a massive hit on Steam, despite the company doing zero marketing outside of Twitch streamers. And now they have the Tribes community to deal with, which certainly isn’t going to help.
Of course, it’s not all bad. One glimmer of hope is the fact that the project lead attended a recent Tribes: Ascend community play session to get accustomed to the game and what the community likes about it. Considering Prophecy’s ties with Hi-Rez, and the fact that they previously borrowed Ascend assets for Raiders, it’s safe to assume that’s the general direction they’re going with their Tribes project. Appealing to Tribes: Ascend players is honestly the safest bet they can make right now, since that’s still the largest Tribes community as of 2023. The previous Tribes games still have a player base of sorts, but Ascend is likely the largest.
Look, I’d love to be proven wrong. I want nothing more than to see a popular Tribes game in 2024, and that Prophecy Games simply had a string of bad luck for a few years. But they’re about to take on a 25 year old franchise that hasn’t been relevant in over 10 years (some would argue 20, others would say never), and a community that can’t agree on what Tribes should even be anymore. This would be a worthy battle for someone like Valve, but this is Prophecy Games we’re talking about. Considering their track record on player feedback, gameplay balance, marketing (or lack thereof) and overall dedication to sticking with a project for more than a few months, does Tribes even stand a chance?
Prophecy Games needs to show some kind of evidence that they’ve learned from their previous endeavors, and that they’ll actually take this project seriously. While they may claim to still be working on Deadzone or even Raiders, they cannot realistically juggle three projects at the same time when they haven’t been able to competently handle just one.