Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

We Finally Know Why Rockstar Cancelled This Game

Fans really, really wanted "Bully 2" to happen. Even though the rumored game was once in development at Rockstar, it has since fallen by the wayside in favor of the ever-popular "Grand Theft Auto" series. In late 2021, fans got excited again when rumors pointed to the "Bully" sequel fans had been waiting for, but so far nothing has materialized from the hearsay. However, a few former Rockstar devs have stepped out to discuss the original attempt to create a follow-up to "Bully" — and to explain why it never quite got off the ground.

Game Informer interviewed five anonymous former developers from Rockstar, specifically noting that the interviewees wanted to obscure their identities out of concern that Rockstar might take legal action. While the news that the New England Rockstar team was working on a sequel to "Bully" at one time isn't anything new, the specific concerns of these developers shed light on what exactly happened to the game and why Rockstar ultimately canceled it. One developer said that even though the New England Rockstar crew "wanted to be sort of the golden child in the Rockstar thing," projects like "Grand Theft Auto" and "Red Dead Redemption" took precedence over "Bully 2," which was a much smaller project.

However, the real answer is more complicated. Rockstar New England started out as an independent studio called Mad Doc, which Rockstar bought and integrated into its growing number of teams. According to Game Informer's interviewees, workplace culture started changing after Rockstar took over at Mad Doc, and crunch became the name of the game. It was all downhill from there.

Crunch caused an exodus of Mad Doc devs

At first, Mad Doc's employees were happy to be working with such a popular company. "It was nice to have some clout to a job. You know?" one developer told Game Informer. Still, clout did little to soften the blow of working more frequently than they ever had before. Developers quickly adapted to Rockstar's fast-paced crunch schedule, working nights and weekends to meet deadlines. Still, the team felt excited about "Bully 2," and developed many new mechanisms to use in the game, like an advanced climbing mechanic, memory for NPCs (similar to the honor system in "Red Dead Redemption"), and even a grass growing system.

As workplace culture began to change, developers at Rockstar New England started quitting — or got laid off. One former developer said, "It was like a hardworking frat house. There is an age and a person that is really drawn to that. Rockstar, in my opinion, is well aware of this." Longtime developers who had families and lives outside of their jobs struggled to accept crunch culture, and quickly made their departure.

Game Informer noted that Rockstar never officially announced "Bully 2," and it's not entirely clear what happened to the game or if there's still some version of it in development. Still, the story of how "Bully 2" faded into the mist of unreleased games highlights the bigger issues that Rockstar wants fans to forget about, namely its history of crunch.