The Ugly Launch of The Callisto Protocol

A buggy launch is just the start of The Callisto Protocol's problems

By AlexJohn, Posted 16 Jan 2023

Releasing in December 2022, The Callisto Protocol has found itself mired in controversy. It is the first game by Striking Distance Studios and directed by industry veteran and Dead Space alumni Glen Schofield. Many predicted that The Callisto Protocol would be a spiritual successor to Dead Space, and reach the heights of the sci-fi survival horror classic. However, drama before and after release, as well as a tough launch, has left The Callisto Protocol stranded in deep space. 

The first controversies and questionable decisions came before release when The Callisto Protocol’s Japanese release was canceled due to Striking Distance Studios failing to secure an age rating with CERO, the Japanese rating board. The game began as a spin-off to the popular battle royale game PUBG: Battlegrounds but the vastly different genres and tones never mixed well and, as development on The Callisto Protocol continued, the worlds of PUBG and The Callisto Protocol grew further apart.

In September 2022 Glen Schofield posted a (quickly deleted) Tweet that many felt promoted crunch culture. "We're working 6-7 days a week" he bragged, through "exhaustion, tired[ness] [and], Covid... 12-15 hour days. This is gaming. Hard work... You do it because you love it." Unsurprisingly this Tweet was met with widespread criticism (Bloomberg's Jason Shreirer called it "weaponized passion") and Schofield subsequently deleted the Tweet and apologized. In his apology, he said that Striking Distance Studios and himself "value passion and creativity, not long hours."


Glenn Schofield, The Callisto Protocol, Striking Distance Studios, Krafton, NoobFeed, A buggy launch is just the start of The Callisto Protocol's problems

Onto the game itself and it's fair to say that The Callisto Protocol was a mixed bag upon release. NoobFeed's Xbox Series X review of The Callisto Protocol called it "a genuine sci-fi survival horror adventure that doesn't offer anything groundbreaking but does know how to please lovers of the genre." Our review highlighted The Callisto Protocol's visuals, motion capture performances, and level design; but criticized the game's "excessive dependence on sudden frightening scenes" and numerous launch-day glitches. Like our reviewer, many players found themselves contending with a buggy, sometimes broken game; with Digital Foundry's John Linneman calling The Callisto Protocol's PC port "disastrous as of launch." 

Post-launch and The Callisto Protocol hasn't been any less controversial. Korean website K Odyssey is reporting a drop in publisher Krafton’s stock price with Samsung Securities expecting The Callisto Protocol to struggle to hit 2 million sales despite an expectation of 5 million before launch; likewise Korea Investment & Securities “lowered its cumulative sales estimate… from 4 million to 2.1 million”. It is estimated that Krafton, which also owns Striking Distance Studios and published PUBG: Battlegrounds, invested as much as 196 billion won (approx. $161.5 million USD - via Eurogamer) into the development of The Callisto Protocol.

As investors begin losing faith in Krafton, consumers may be feeling the same towards Striking Distance Studios after a report by GamesIndustry suggested that the studio had deliberately left creators’ names out of the credits of The Callisto Protocol. The exclusion of creators in credits is not unheard of in the games industry and, according to an IGN source, this isn’t even the first time it has happened on a project helmed by Glen Schofield. The source claims that “people were left off the credits of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” (which Schofield co-directed with Michael Cordrey and Bret Robbins) and that the source themselves was left off the credits of Call of Duty WW2 because they had “left the studio before the game shipped”, despite working for “almost two full years on the game”.


The Callisto Protocol, Striking Distance Studios, Krafton, NoobFeed, A buggy launch is just the start of The Callisto Protocol's problems

On the matter, the IGDA's (International Game Developers Association) standard states that “a team member [that] has worked for the company for a minimum of 30 days”, “contractors”, and a “staff member [that] leave[s] the company before launch” all qualify for inclusion in a game’s credits. GamesIndustry spoke to five sources that had their names omitted from The Callisto Protocol’s credits, but it has been suggested that as many as twenty names are missing. One source suggested that even “really core people who built the studio up” had been omitted, while another claimed that “full-time employees with over a year invested in the title, and [who] had a hand in significant parts of the product” also failed to make the credits.

Of course, with over 200 employees plus freelancers and contractors, Striking Distance Studios’ issue could lie in a clerical error; with management failing to keep track of those coming and going from the studio. Rather than anything vindictive occurring. Another IGN source “suggested the blame could fall on the department leads, rather than the higher-up at Striking Distance Studios, like CEO Glenn Schofield… because of the high volume of turnover during Callisto Protocol’s development.”

To conclude, The Callisto Protocol had a fair bit of hype around it, especially from genre fans, but come release it couldn’t match director Glen Schofield’s previous horror franchise Dead Space. Broken for many on release, and not even releasing at all in Japan, Striking Distance Studios’ debut title has underperformed and damaged the stock of publisher Krafton. Lastly, The Callisto Protocol is proof that crunch culture is still festering within the games industry and breeds a toxic work environment. Publishers, developers, and department heads need to do better by their staff and rightly credit them for the hard work that they do in bringing interactive worlds to life.


Alex Johnson (@AlexJohnWriting)
News Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): KRAFTON, Bluehole Inc.
Developer(s): Striking Distance Studios
Genres: Survival Horror
Themes: Single Player, Sci-Fi, Action
Release Date: 2022-12-02

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