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Why was Legacy of Kain cancelled?

Financial issues, mismanagement, a lack of audience, and low game quality led to the cancellation of a Legacy of Kain reboot, as well as the spin-off, Nosgoth.

With this year’s cancellation news of the critically-acclaimed action-adventure series Legacy of Kain’s anticipated spin-off, Nosgoth, people are starting to wonder: what happened to the once-great vampire series?

Square Enix’s Legacy of Kain series was once highly popular, praised for its visuals and storyline. The franchise followed the vampire Kain through a dark fantasy setting and explored moral themes. In 2009, development began at Climax Studios for a reboot of the series, set some time in the future under the codename “Black Cloth" and later named Dead Sun. Meanwhile, the online multiplayer game Nosgoth was set to be released alongside it. Square Enix has since cancelled both games -- the former in 2012 and the latter just this year.

Square and Climax had high hopes for Black Cloth. It would have followed the story of an entirely new character, and had been designed to appeal to the masses rather than the niche fan base of the original series. They wanted a game that was gritty and real, modeled off the style of HBO series like The Sopranos and Game of Thrones.

Some say that was part of the problem, and Climax’s vision for the game was too ambitious for their budget and staff number. Other games of a similar style that were doing well at the time, like Assassin’s Creed, had a staff number of about 800 -- whereas Climax had 100 people working on Black Cloth. Square also held concerns on how well the game would do. They ran a service that predicted a Metacritic score of 80 for Black Cloth, when they had hoped for 85. Plus, the genre of the Legacy of Kain series itself was no longer selling as well as it once did.

Other staff who worked on the game blame Square Enix’s poor management. Square wanted the game to be easy enough that brand new gamers would have no trouble with it; but Climax staff believed it was unlikely that any new gamers would pick up the game to begin with. They faced constant criticism from Square over small things they believed were not problems at all. On the other hand, Square maintained that the game was low quality. Developers point to Square’s lack of clarity on what they actually wanted the game to be like, which made it difficult to please them.

Financial concerns also played a huge role in the ultimate cancellation of the game. Square continuously held unrealistic sales expectations for its games that it failed to meet with three games in 2012, the year Black Cloth was cancelled. Square expected a budget of about £15 million for the game, but as its development progressed, it seemed like Climax’s vision had grown too big and the cost would rise to £30 million. This, coupled with low sales overall for Square, may have been the deciding factor for cancellation.

Nosgoth was cancelled under similar concerns, although its cancellation was more focused on the audience. Square no longer believed there was enough of an audience for the series to justify spending so much money and time on it.

Ultimately, it seems that a mix of financial issues, lack of audience, low game quality, and bad management led to the cancellation of Legacy of Kain. Square Enix says there may still be hope for the series, but it’s unclear how much of a chance there is for future installments. We can only hope that the series won’t die off completely.

Published May. 29th 2016

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