The Callisto Protocol, a survival horror game that was supposed to be a spiritual successor to the acclaimed Dead Space series, turned out to be a major flop. The game, which was released in late 2022, received mixed reviews from critics and gamers, who complained about its overly difficult combat, poor performance, and lack of originality. The game also failed to meet the sales expectations of its publisher, Krafton, which had invested heavily in the project.
According to Bloomberg, the game had only sold two million copies by April 2023, far short of the five million target that Krafton had set. The disappointing performance of the game led to the departure of three executives from Striking Distance Studios, the developer of The Callisto Protocol. Among them was Glen Schofield, the co-founder and CEO of the studio, and a veteran of the Dead Space franchise.
Glen Schofield was a key figure in the creation of Dead Space
Glen Schofield was one of the main creative forces behind Dead Space, a sci-fi horror game that was released in 2008 by Electronic Arts. The game was praised for its atmospheric and terrifying gameplay, as well as its innovative use of sound and physics. Schofield served as the executive producer of the game, and later became the general manager of Visceral Games, the studio that developed Dead Space and its sequels.
Schofield left EA in 2011 to join Activision, where he co-founded Sledgehammer Games. He worked on several Call of Duty titles, including Modern Warfare 3, Advanced Warfare, and WWII. In 2018, he left Activision to start his own studio, Striking Distance Studios, with the backing of Krafton, a South Korean company best known for PUBG.
Schofield wanted to make The Callisto Protocol a new benchmark for horror games
Schofield had a grand vision for The Callisto Protocol, which he announced in 2020 as a new IP set in the PUBG universe. He wanted to make the game a new benchmark for horror games, with cutting-edge graphics, immersive storytelling, and intense gameplay. He also wanted to pay homage to Dead Space, which had a loyal fan base that was disappointed by EA’s decision to cancel the series after Dead Space 3.
However, The Callisto Protocol failed to live up to Schofield’s ambitions. The game was plagued by technical issues, especially on PC, where it suffered from frequent crashes and glitches. The game also received criticism for its unbalanced difficulty level, which made some sections frustratingly hard and others too easy. Moreover, the game did not offer much innovation or originality in terms of its setting, story, or gameplay mechanics. Many reviewers and players felt that the game was too derivative of Dead Space and other horror games.
Schofield leaves Striking Distance Studios to pursue new opportunities
Schofield announced his departure from Striking Distance Studios on Twitter on September 20th. He said that his decision was “bittersweet”, but that he was proud of what he and his team had accomplished with The Callisto Protocol. He also thanked Krafton for their support and trust. He did not reveal what his next plans were, but said that he was looking forward to pursuing new opportunities.
Schofield will be replaced as CEO by Steve Papoutsis, another former Dead Space developer who joined Striking Distance Studios as chief development officer in 2020. Papoutsis was a producer for Dead Space and its spin-offs at EA, and later became the vice president and general manager of Visceral Games. He left EA in 2015 and worked as an independent consultant before joining Schofield’s studio.
Papoutsis will have to deal with the aftermath of The Callisto Protocol’s failure, as well as the future direction of Striking Distance Studios. According to Bloomberg, the studio laid off 32 developers in August 2023 as part of a restructuring process. It is unclear whether the studio will continue working on The Callisto Protocol or move on to a new project.