There are a million different directions they could have taken Predaking in. They didn't have to be beholden to the one they ultimately chose to go with. Shucks, it's not even the direction that Hasbro conceived for the character in their promotional material and toy bios. What we got for him was neat (if a bit of a retread of Dreadwing, who had already been done very well as a loyal Decepticon manipulated and lied to by his superiors), but it was not the only direction that was available for them to take him in.
And like I said, they could have written it so that the project is thwarted by the Autobots instead of having Megatron call it quits, allowing the Cybermatter to still come into play where it did.
Or, hey, here's another option. They could have ended Season 2 as it was supposed to with Cybertron being restored, but done so by Megatron, placing the planet under Decepticon control and forcing the Autobots to retreat to Earth from a Decepticon-ruled Cybertron, allowing all of Season 3 to be about the Autobots trying to take back Cybertron from Megatron and fight off his brand new Predacon forces (brought to him by the newly-resurfaced Shockwave) that have been sent to Earth to hunt down the now-scattered Autobots. And Ultra Magnus's return could have been due to his detecting the revival of Cybertron, and in turn retreating to Earth to join up with Optimus there, with his ship coming equipped with the new armor and weapons that the toys had. Predaking himself could still be the same as before, but being one of many Predacon beasts instead of by himself. And when he becomes the first of the horde to transform and develop sentience, even though he'd be genuinely loyal, Megatron's paranoia would drive him to rethink his Predacon army, fearing that Predaking may decide to usurp him with the horde at his beck and call, leading to a clash between Megatron and Predaking that would culminate near the end with the Autobots taking advantage of the Decepticon/Predacon conflict to finally liberate Cybertron from its oppressors. Megatron would be destroyed and the Autobots would make peace with Predaking, permitting him to take the remaining Predacons and go find a place on Cybertron for them to call home, no longer slaves to Megatron's warmongering. Shockwave and Starscream would retreat like they did in the show, while Knock Out still switches to the winning side. And to still give Bumblebee his voice back, the final battle could have been set at the Omega Lock's sanctuary, with him still falling into its energy field (which would have been activated since, at the same time as the final battle, the Autobots would be attempting to use it to reformat Cybertron back to normal from its Decepticon version that Megatron made it into back in the Season 2 finale), getting healed, and killing Megatron in a surprise blow with the Star Saber. Of course, with Megatron dying on Cybertron, Predacons Rising probably wouldn't have been made, but while it was still good, the way the actual Season 3 ended was still good enough that the epilogue movie was merely a nice bonus rather than a necessity.
Now, I KNOW that all of this couldn't have been done with how this show managed its budget, but that all goes back to my original statement of how the show blew its budget on trying to look too good for its own good rather than scaling back its animation costs to allow other aspects of its production to share more of the budget than they got. Less focus on making the icing be the most delicious icing on the face of the Earth to give more attention to actually baking the cake.
Edited by Sabrblade, 23 January 2019 - 10:28 AM.