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Here’s ‘Gnomageddon,’ the game-jam concept that PlayStation canceled

Duke it out as garden gnomes in a backyard MOBA

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Trademark filings are among the softest of news items in the games business. Yet in 2015, observers spotted one for PlayStation 4, named "Gnomageddon." As strange as the title is, it was name of a real game, and Unseen64 has the story of it.

Gnomageddon was in development at Sony San Diego (SSD), mainly known for its work on sports titles like MLB The Show (and, before that, an NBA game). When the cost of making a licensed basketball game got too high, SSD began looking for other projects. Gnomageddon was borne of a game jam and, incredibly, development continued on it as a serious title.

Gnomageddon was, roughly speaking, a class-based MOBA (the genre of Dota 2, League of Legends, and others appealing to esports viewers) in which garden gnomes battled one another in the lush back lawns of the suburban United States. As ridiculous as the concept sounds, it still gathered enough traction to be worth parking a trademark and making plans for a full release.

Unfortunately, Gnomageddon was competing internally with another, more straightforward free-to-play game under development at SSD: Kill Strain, which launched in summer 2016 and quickly flamed out. Sony San Diego developers, according to Unseen64, resented the lack of promotion for and commitment to Kill Strain coming from Sony at large. Developers working on Gnomageddon were pulled off to maintenance Kill Strain after its launch. The death of Kill Strain and its resulting layoffs, doomed Gnomageddon as well..

Kill Strain's servers turned off on July 1. Sony San Diego survived, of course, but it is mainly known as Sony's boutique for its baseball series, the only "simulation" baseball title on a console.