Redfall staff hoped Microsoft would cancel the Xbox Series X game before its release
A new report sheds light on Redfall's troubled development
Many speculated how Redfall was released in such an unfinished state, despite being one of the biggest Xbox Series X games of the year. I even went as far as to say Microsoft shouldn’t be allowed to buy Activision Blizzard over the way the game (and many others) had been handled.
However, thankfully we now have some answers.
It turns out that after the commercial disappointment of Arkane Austin’s last title,e Prey, the higher-ups at Bethesda wanted the team to create a microtransaction-driven, live-service multiplayer shooter.
When Redfall was released to scathing reviews and bemusement from the Xbox faithful, those at the studio weren’t surprised. As reported by Bloomberg, the project suffered due to a clear lack of direction, understaffing issues, and an ongoing exodus of experienced members.
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Redfall development hell
🕵️♂️ A new report has revealed more about Redfall’s troubled development
🧛♀️ The team felt there was a lack of direction, and the studio was understaffed
🙏 Some hoped that Microsoft would cancel the game or at least reboot it when it purchased ZeniMax in 2020
🤲 Microsoft instead chose to have a hands-off approach
Redfall’s development began in 2018 under the direction of ZeniMax, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks. Microsoft wasn’t involved in the conception of the game, and according to people familiar with the process, it didn’t get involved even after acquiring Bethesda for $7.5 billion.
Even though Arkane Studios was best known for creating “immersive sims”, it was pitched to staff as a multiplayer Arkane game, which didn’t really resonate with the team. Many openly questioned whether the type of experiences the studio was famed for would also translate over to a multiplayer environment, and little clarification or direction was given.
After stumbling about in the dark in terms of how the game would work, veteran staff members grew tired of the studio’s new direction and departed. This left an already understaffed team even more vulnerable.
Microsoft then purchased ZeniMax for $7.5 million in 2020, and some staff members at Arkane hoped that the Redmond-based company would swoop in to axe Redfall or let the team reboot it as a single-player game.
That obviously didn’t happen, with Microsoft’s CEO of Gaming Phil Spencer admitting in an interview with Kinda Funny Games that the team didn’t get involved soon enough with Redfall’s development.
That mirrors Bloomberg’s report, which said Microsoft maintained a hands-off approach and gave Arkane Studios complete autonomy – apart from canceling a PlayStation version of the game.
Should Microsoft have intervened to prevent Redfall’s failure? Perhaps, but it’s also been accused of meddling with studios too much in the past. Clearly, Redfall was doomed from the start judging by this new report, but Microsoft should have been more aware that this wasn’t the big multiplayer hit it made it out to be.
It remains to be seen how much post-launch support the game receives now it’s out in the wild, though Microsoft has promised to improve it. A 60fps performance mode is also due on Xbox Series X|S after the game launched at 30fps.
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