Jason Schreier just posted a new article on Redfall development on Bloomberg. The open-world, cooperative first-person shooter, which was released in early May, received – to say the least – a mixed reception from critics and fans, who were disappointed with the latest work of the studio Arkane Austin, which had an excellent reputation until then.
Even Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer has spoken out about the damning appearance, taking full responsibility for it and promising that the developer will work to fix Redfall.
Why did Arkane fail this time? Bloomberg’s report tries to answer this very question. According to anonymous sources cited in the article, management at Arkane Austin (who released the critically acclaimed but financially unsuccessful Prey in 2017) decided to follow ZeniMax’s non-binding encouragement to develop game-as-a-service titles to improve monetization .
However, according to the report, many developers at Arkane found Redfall’s direction confusing. They weren’t prepared to make a multiplayer game, and they didn’t really want to, and it was hard to figure out exactly what the game was going to be due to the back and forth hints from the Arkane Austin executives.
Another major issue highlighted in the report is Arkane Austin’s continued understaffing throughout Redfall’s development. The Texas office had less than a hundred employees, and sources say that by the end of the game’s production, more than 70% of the people who worked on Prey were no longer at AA.
On the other hand, finding successors experienced in multiplayer games was difficult due to both the location of the studio and the fact that Redfall had not yet been announced, so most of the new hires were still drawn to the studio’s previous work in the immersive simulation genre.
At the end of the report, he cites the hope that was sparked by Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition of ZeniMax among some employees. The folks at Arkane Austin were hoping that Microsoft would either cancel or relaunch Redfall as a single-player game (much like BioWare’s new Dragon Age). Still, Microsoft stayed away, and the game continued its career.
In a pre-release Q&A, Arkane’s Austin Harvey Smith said that they will likely return to making immersive simulations after Redfall. I really hope so. I really want a sequel to Prey, although with most of the developers having moved on from the studio, I wonder what would come of it.