The latest attempt to revive Tribes looks cooked after three months

Tribes 3: Rivals got everyone excited with an excellent Steam Next Fest demo this February that suggested, maybe this time, the revival would stick. The game launched into early access on March 12, 2024, promising a “rebirth” of the beloved first-person sport-slash-shooter with a simple business model: $20 upfront price, and no microtransactions.

It hasn’t gone well. Per SteamDB, there are currently 27 players in Tribes 3: Rivals. The greatest number of simultaneous players the game has had was at launch: 890.

Now there’s a strangely titled post on the Tribes 3: Rivals Steam page that appears to be even worse news for players: “Giving Back to Tribes 3 & Starsiege: Deadzone Players.” The note is addressed to the community and is essentially a way of saying the loud part very quietly.

Developer Prophecy says it’s “offering credits to all players who made purchases in Starsiege: Deadzone or Tribes 3 in the past.” Starsiege: Deadzone is an extraction shooter that launched in July last year, made by the same developer. Prophecy says these credits will be issued towards its new game, Ultra Strikers, a cartoony 3vs3 sports shooter that doesn’t currently have a release date.

Basically any money people have spent on those games can now be used 1:1 towards buying Ultra Strikers which is… better than nothing, I guess, but a million miles away from a refund. And it’s part of what makes this announcement so weird, because essentially what Prophecy is here to say is: look, it hasn’t worked out, and we can’t keep supporting Tribes 3. Instead this is couched in terms of the studio gifting players credits for money spent on Tribes.

Rather a mess, in other words, and Tribes 3’s Steam reviews are being hit as we speak (though they weren’t great to begin with, mainly due to the difficulty of finding other players). 

Towards the end of the announcement Prophecy almost-but-not-quite says that Tribes 3 is done. “We’re doing our best to support Tribes 3 with limited updates (along with an upcoming discount sale to bring in more players), and plan to return to Starsiege Deadzone once the company has the resources, but unfortunately neither game had enough success yet to support the studio and can’t be our main development focus right now (as much as we love them).”

Prophecy can’t bring itself to just say the obvious, though surely every player gets the message. This was not the revival we were hoping for. I have some sympathy for Prophecy, inasmuch as those player numbers are dire and it would take a Lazarus-level comeback for Tribes 3 to remain a going concern. But at the same time, if there were ever a time for clear communication about an early access game, it’s when the decision has been made to turn off life support. Farewell then, Tribes 3: Rivals. We barely knew ye. See you in a decade for Tribes 4.