Redfall is one of the worst games of this year. What were the reasons for the release of such a disastrous product? The answer to this question was searched for and found by Jason Schreier, who analyzed the history of the Arkane Studios game's failure, talking to more than a dozen people involved in its creation.
According to the journalist from the Bloomberg agency, a number of factors contributed to this, which ultimately led to the disaster for Microsoft and its hyped exclusive title.
- In 2018, concept work began on Redfall. At the same time, ZeniMax (owner of Arkane and Bethesda) was looking for a buyer.
- Throughout the period of searching for a large shareholder ZeniMax reportedly urged developers to implement microtransactions to generate additional revenue.
- In 2020, ZeniMax was eventually acquired by Microsoft, which paid $7.5 billion.
Recall that a year before the concept for Redfall took shape, the studio released - Prey. It was not a commercial success, so the studio's management wanted to create something that could attract more players.
In the end, it was decided to make a "multiplayer game in which users would join forces to fight vampires." Harvey Smith and Ricardo Bare, who previously worked on Dishonored were chosen as the directors of the new project.
- Arkane has specialized in single-player games since its inception. Redfall is the studio's first work to focus on multiplayer.
- During the development, the directors began to waver on the concept and did not explicitly indicate whether Redfall was to be a single-player or multiplayer game. This caused confusion among the staff.
- There were also too few developers involved in the work.. The Austin branch had fewer than 100 employees - not enough to effectively develop a large title of this type. Maintaining a sufficiently large team was hampered by numerous departures of team members disappointed that they were not making an immersive sim.
At this point in the project's development, Arkane was stumped. As Schreier writes, relying on his sources, the team was hoping that "Microsoft would cancel Redfall or, better yet, allow it to be rebooted as a single-player game."
However, Microsoft did not meddle with the work, deciding only to seize the opportunity and ordering the cancellation of the PlayStation version, and then announced Redfall with as an exclusive. It was originally scheduled for release in the fall of 2022, which must have greatly irritated the team in Austin. Not wonder Redfall has so many problems if the work proceeded under such conditions.
- Nevertheless, Arkane is still expected to work on improving Redfall, including the release of an update introducing 60 frames per second on Xbox.
- Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox division, apologized for the quality of Redfall in a Kinda Funny Games podcast.
- Redfall's publisher, Bethesda Softworks, declined to respond to Schreier.
Current Redfall has only 32% positive reviews on Steam (out of 1,701), with tha game losing as much as 95% of the players who played the game at launch. The shooter's situation also doesn't look good on Metacritic, where its average rating is 54/100 from critics and 2.1/10 from players (PC).
Putting aside the problems of its exclusive games, Microsoft has to fight in court for approval of Activision's acquisition of Blizzard. While the deal has been approved by the European Commission and China, among others, it has been blocked by the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and its fate is still in question in the US.