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Tencent's NExT's 2A game "Edge of Rebirth" announced the suspension of operations, and the producer has changed jobs a few years ago

Game Grape 2024/07/09 21:40



Time is running out

Today (July 9), Edge of Rebirth announced that it will end operations on September 9. Since then, this 2A-level new product, which has been developed by a team of 100 people for 5 years and is regarded as the ultimate battle of Tencent NExT Studios, has also come to an end. According to Grape Jun, the project producer has also left NExT Studios and transferred to other project teams at Tencent.

"Edge of Rebirth" is a sci-fi TPS (third-person shooter), focusing on multiplayer PVPVE mode, emphasizing the gameplay of brushing, building genres, and meat pigeons. Its biggest gameplay feature is that you can capture elite enemies and use them as your own followers.

Game Grape, Tencent's NExT's 2A game "Edge of Rebirth" announced the suspension of operations, and the producer has changed jobs a few years ago

The game will be launched on the PC platform on September 8, 2023, and in the first week of the service, it was badly reviewed by players due to problems such as servers, bugs, matchmaking, and gameplay experience, and producer Yang Jiayang also issued an apology letter for this.

So far, the game's Steam rating is 66% mixed, and WeGame's recommendation rate is 52.4%. Negative reviews cover all aspects of the game: content volume, numerical balance, operation strategy, art UI, gameplay mode, server ecology, .....

In fact, none of the games lasted until 10 months. After the launch of the S2 season in March of this year, the game stopped updating. In other words, half a year after the product was launched, the countdown to the final shutdown began.

Game Grape, Tencent's NExT's 2A game "Edge of Rebirth" announced the suspension of operations, and the producer has changed jobs a few years ago

Game Grape, Tencent's NExT's 2A game "Edge of Rebirth" announced the suspension of operations, and the producer has changed jobs a few years ago

It's a bit embarrassing to say. In last year's conversation, Gu Yu, then deputy general manager of NExT, told Grape Jun that in 2018, in order to improve the team's technical capabilities and explore the possibility of gameplay innovation + commercialization, NExT Studios set up the 2A project "Edge of Rebirth" from top to bottom.

This project has been difficult since its inception, the art and gameplay have been greatly changed, and the team's positioning and expectations for the product have been changing. At the beginning, everyone's expectation for it was to practice the product, and it would be launched quickly and well, and it was not important whether it made money or not; Later, I wanted to make new ideas in terms of gameplay, and then I adjusted my art and changed to PvE...... And all of these adjustments come at a huge cost.

According to Grape Jun, before Tencent's normal project is launched, it will take 3-6 months to do user research and various distribution plans, but at the beginning of 2023, "Edge of Rebirth" will be launched as soon as possible after the test is completed in March and April. The team's original expectation was 100 million in the first year, but then it was found that there were a lot of problems with the game's production capacity and balance.

In the end, as soon as the game was launched, it ushered in a sky collapse, and the team's confidence was also hit. After the Chinese New Year this year, half of the game's development team has been lost.

So this NExT Studios has spent the most effort and thought on quality and gameplay so far, but in the end it still failed to go through the path that the team wanted to take - taking into account creativity and commercialization, and at the same time achieving the ideal, it can also meet the needs of food and clothing.

And with Edge of Rebirth out of service, NExT Studios felt like it had to take on even more pressure.


From "utopia" to "brand engineering"

NExT stands for New Experience and Technology, which is the core tone of the team.

There is no KPI pressure, focusing on creative gameplay, and being able to do a lot of what they want to do from the bottom up, in those days, it was the dream of many Tencent people - anyone could put forward ideas, form a project team, and the project was not limited to categories and platforms, but the requirement was to have an impressive longboard. It is also Tencent's white moonlight in the eyes of outside users, and is said by many players to be Tencent's "poorest but most conscientious" team.

In the early years, the team created several well-received games, including "The Grim Reaper", "Rainbow Falls", "Mystery Story", "Just Big Adventure", "The Incredible Crown", "Strange Tales of the Woods", "Metal Showdown" and other products, as well as functional games such as "Health Defense" and "Pavlov is busy".

Game Grape, Tencent's NExT's 2A game "Edge of Rebirth" announced the suspension of operations, and the producer has changed jobs a few years ago

Before the launch of the mobile game version, NEXT had the best results

"Chasing the Voice of a Mysterious Case" also failed to return to its roots

However, after 2020, the environment has changed dramatically, and the NExT team still lacks the ability to protect itself – unable to be self-sustaining, and its commercialization capabilities have been slow to prove. The team's reputation has changed from a "utopian land" to a "brand project", and even some Tencent people believe that the main job of the NExT team is upward management.

With the slashing of many projects such as "Mystery 2" and "Ranch Story" mobile games, and the suspension of the key commercial product "Edge of Rebirth", although I don't want to say so, all signs show that the challenges experienced by NExT Studios are becoming more and more severe.

· At the end of 2022, Shen Li, general manager of NExT Studios, resigned.

· At the beginning of 2023, the business of NExT Studios was adjusted, and the person in charge, Zhang Zhechuan, resigned.

· At the end of 2023, the producer of "Edge of Rebirth" will change jobs.

· At the beginning of 2024, Gu Yu, deputy general manager of NExT Studios, resigned.

· In mid-2024, Hu Yi, director of operations at NExT Studios, announced his departure.

From the first and second positions of the entire team, to the core project leader, to the grassroots team leaders of various departments, with the departure of this group of people one after another, the situation of NExT Studios is not optimistic.

According to Grape Jun, NExT Studios still has projects in development, but it is still in the early stages. However, after changing to be led by France Julien Bares (Chinese name Bai Jushi), the team's future goals may have changed.


Should you go to the Black Myth?

Looking back, some people will say that around 2018, NExT Studios should not do a homogeneous commercial project like "Edge of Rebirth", with their team background and strength, if they can make a stand-alone machine like "Black Myth: Wukong", sell more than 1 million sets, and achieve brand and cultural output, Tencent is estimated to be able to accommodate them.

But back in that context, it's hard for the team to tell the boss a story that requires more money but is more risky. What's more, "Black Myth: Wukong" has not yet been exposed for the first time that year, and no one would have imagined that there would be an opportunity to do large-scale commercial stand-alone games with a buyout system in the Chinese market.

According to a core member of NExT, after the team saw the first exposure of "Black Myth: Wukong", they hated it one by one, and they couldn't wait to leave the whole team immediately to make their own black myths. But everyone has their own concerns, and in the end, no one really dares to gamble.

The NExT team is actually not bad, and many former employees have said, "NExT is generally very easy for people to use, especially for programming and art, and it is easy to find a job." "However, under the large company structure, NExT is not a low team cost, and it is difficult to rely on small and beautiful creative products to support it, but to do high-investment, high-return commercial projects, it needs to be sufficiently determined revenue expectations.

Shen Li also told Grape Jun before that if you want to innovate gameplay on commodity products, it will inevitably take a long time to iterate back and forth in the early stage, and such iteration does not guarantee that there will be amazing results. Therefore, even if the team is not large in the early stage, the exploration cost brought by the long cycle will be considerable. This left the NExT team in a dilemma.

Including the bottom-up "tribal" creative work model that the team advocated at the beginning, it sounds great, but in practice, it will also encounter problems such as talent training, rules and procedures, and judgment standards. Sources told Grape that many people in the NExT team lack a sense of purpose - although it seems that everything can be done, it seems that what is made is still a thing.

Even though NExT did not have a hard revenue assessment before, the problem of staff turnover still exists, on the one hand, due to the attraction of high income from other studios within Tencent, and on the other hand, the lure of high salaries from external companies such as miHoYo and Lilith. There are still a few people who can stick to it just by relying on enthusiasm.

Game science and the story of Black Myth: Wukong, of course, is exciting, but there's no denying that it's still a big gamble. And since it's called high gambling, it's natural that nine times out of ten there are losers, but not many people will remember the stories of losers.

Do you think the NExT team would have been able to do it if they had gone back 5 years and started making something like Black Myth: Wukong? If everyone really broke the kettle and made a buyout of the single machine, and the result failed, would they have no regrets than now?

I do not know. But at least NExT is still around, and there are still projects to be done, so the story isn't over yet.

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