If there's anything you can't take away from Redfall, it's its outrageous launch. This is one of the biggest disappointments coming from a respected studio like Arkane, and a very jarring blow for Microsoft and Xbox. After all, Redfall was supposed to be an exclusive title for which you purchase a console. Or at least subscribe to Game Pass on your computer.
Bloomberg provided a little more information about what went on behind the scenes, interviewing several sources who identified themselves as developers working on the project. Redfall began development in 2018 and beyond setting a general goal of an "Arcayne multiplayer title", the team had no clear vision or direction to work with.
Arcayne is known as a developer of single-player games, and many thought that the company's unique style of play would not be properly "translated" into the multiplayer genre. And it's true. In the end result, Redfall felt generic and boring. It also didn't help that Arcane's Austin Texas branch (which developed the game) was considered a tiny branch with only 100 employees, and outside help and resources coming from Bethesda didn't help the process. Mainly because they were few.
Redfall did not recreate the magic of previous Arcayne games: Dishonored, Prey and Deathloop (Photo: official website, Bethesda)
The general feeling of the team was that no one was interested in developing a multiplayer game. About a third of the developers who worked on Prey (which came out a year earlier and received critical acclaim from all sides) resigned. The conditions of the staff at the Austin branch are also not considered particularly prestigious. In fact, they are considered below the industry average. Bloomberg was told that most of the team stayed because of the possibility of working on high-quality and unique single-player games. This multiplayer game is not the rodeo they signed up for.
Despite the reluctance of the developers to work on the game, the pressure from above increased. Bethesda, under pressure from Zenimax, demanded that Arkane quickly develop a multiplayer game with Live Service elements. You know Arthur's meme with his grandmother who says "everyone does it because it's fashion"? So here's the situation.
Then came a glimmer of hope. Or so the developers thought. In 2020, Microsoft acquired Zenimex, along with Bethesda, Arcane, and several other developers. Barkane hoped Microsoft would save them. Maybe cancel the project or press the reboot button and change course towards playing single player.
But instead of Microsoft putting some organizational order into its new acquisition, it chose to give Zenimax complete latitude. And the desire for a multiplayer game remains. Until 2021, Redfall still contained elements of a service game, but the reviews and lack of sympathy online did their job, and they were removed. Mostly. If you look closely enough, you can still feel their "leftovers" throughout the game.
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The last hope for redemption this year? (Photo: official website, Bethesda)
Phil Spencer, the CEO of Xbox, hasn't exactly shaken off that decision. He said in a recent interview that he takes full responsibility for the state of the game, but claimed they did not "do a good job or collaborate with Arcayne and the Austin branch."
The final result is well remembered. And at its launch, Redfall didn't just suffer from bugs and technical problems. Microsoft did not give up and promised that Arcayne would improve the situation, but the problem stems from the basics. The game was horribly generic and certainly didn't mention Arcaine's charm. Unfortunately, we didn't get to criticize him either.
Next week (June 11), Xbox will hold its own Showcase, and it doesn't have many opportunities left to surprise the players. Most of her hopes (for now) rests on Starfield's shoulders, and will receive extensive emphasis on broadcasting. And of course it also relies on approval of the Activision-Blizzard acquisition, but it is in legal complications and appeal stages, and it can take time, if at all.
The problem is that even if Starfield lives up to expectations and delivers a "fallout experience but in a space combined with next-generation No Man's Sky," it's not enough. It needs more exclusive titles like Hi-Fi Rush (which we criticized very much) and came as a complete surprise. The hope is that the upcoming Showcase will be able to take out the bad taste left over from Redfall, and perhaps on the way to getting an announcement of Fable 3 as well.
- Gaming Channel