Too Human 2 and 3 in danger with Microsoft facing less global demand?

Too Human for Xbox 360According to a Spaceworks‘ mocap studio, edit suites animation and production facilities profile, Microsoft hired them as part of the huge 80 million dollar budget for the Too Human video game trilogy. Microsoft obviously bet big on the first title and the question is if the 560,000 copies sold worldwide in 2008 are enough to continue development of the series onto Too Human 2 and 3?

Xboxist reports that these sales are “not even close to enough to recoup its massive development costs. […] At the same time that the game has suffered from sluggish uptake at retail, market conditions and restructuring at Microsoft put the ongoing support of Silicon Knights in doubt.

Last week, Microsoft was forced to announce major job cuts, many of which will affect the PC gaming division. Faced with deteriorating global demand for its products, the company is being forced to trim the fat and drop any project that is not conceivably profitable in the near term. This does not bode well for developers who depend upon Microsoft to fund their projects on the Xbox 360. Unless a sequel is guaranteed to be a sure-fire hit, the purse strings are likely to be very tight at Microsoft, should Dyack and his team need additional funding.

Considering the assets and engine developed for the first game, you’d imagine a sequel for an already planned-out trilogy to already be underway. But then we looked at news from October 2008, two months after the game’s release, when 26 of the 180 employees were laid-off at Silicon Knights. Silicon Knights president and founder, Dennis Dyack, explained this in a PR statement by saying: “After any big game ships, there is always some attrition. Teams are lean and mean in the beginning, grow toward the end of the project, and then whittle down once the project is finished. To that end, Silicon Knights temporary [sic] laid-off 26 employees today while they ramp up on other projects. […] Silicon Knights is currently working on several new and exciting games that will be announced to the public in the coming months.” Which makes sense in that it would indicate they are simply still in the planning phases of their next games.

Still, word on the street is that Microsoft was expecting a million-seller, a sure-fire hit. What publisher wouldn’t with millions invested? It seems unlikely Microsoft — who bought exclusivity on the series — is waiting to see if the long-term sales of Too Human can recoup their investment enough to warrant a sequel, so the longer it takes, the more uncertain a Too Human trilogy becomes on Xbox 360. Especially with the already discounted $40 game reportedly being out of print. Then again… Too Human itself was on and off in development for over 10 years! So only time can tell.