It looks like Prey 2 developer Human Head has moved on to a new project, and whispers suggest a strong-arm attempt at a buy-out is what soured its relationship with publisher Bethesda.
Multiple anonymous sources told IGN that Bethesda backed Human Head into a corner with a contract which blocked it from developing any other projects, but declaring itself unsatisfied with the work produced so far.
When Human Head ran out of money to fund further development, the sources alleged, Bethesda swooped to the rescue with an offer to to buy the financially floundering studio.
"It was one of few studios that could work with and improve id Technology. They wanted to buy us at a sweet price," one source said.
But Human Head wasn't interested, the source added, being quite put off by Bethesda's tactics.
After that, the rumour continues, Human Head simply stopped working on the game, occasionally sending Bethesda offers it considered reasonable, which the publisher did not reply to. Eventually, the contract between the two companies expired. Industry buzz suggests Arkane Studios has taken over from Human Head to finish the sci-fi shooter.
The rumour paints Bethesda in quite an unpleasant light - but even if it is completely accurate, there's no telling what state the project was in when the publisher began playing hardball. Human Head seems pretty convinced it was awesome, though.
Through the whole Prey 2 rumour whirlwind, Bethesda has not made any comment on the subject of Human Head's reported departure and replacement, saying only that development was not smooth and release was delayed as a result.
Meanwhile, Human Head definitely appears to have moved on to other projects; both IGN's sources and a LinkedIn screengrab doing the rounds today suggest the developer has a new open-world game on the go, set in a European city, for a different publisher. It also announced a sequel to Rune.
Thanks, Dark, AllGamesBeta.